Flipping my lid

19th April 2013 at 01:00

There are too many jars in my fridge. It started with some pickles and olives but they have multiplied like wet gremlins and occupied all the shelves. Now I can't get near the salad for the pesto, horseradish and chutney, which are surrounding the last of the rocket like Apaches circling the wagons.

This preponderance of glassware makes opening the door a health and safety risk. Every time I reach in for a yogurt, I'm hit on the head by flying mayonnaise that refuses to share the door shelf with four litres of semi-skimmed milk.

You would think that the lesson of things falling out of the fridge would be enough to prevent me from overpacking the rest my life. But no. Thanks to a hectic spring term, I left all my A-level marking for the Easter break. I had convinced myself that I could mark more than 200,000 words of coursework and still have time for a trip to a retail park for a Kaliko frock, some Kurt Geiger shoes and a custard slice. It seemed a realistic marking workload. I'm a proficient speed-reader and in terms of actual word count it fell short of War and Peace.

But I had overlooked one small detail: Tolstoy can write and my A-level students can't. If I had given Charlie, my golden retriever, some sentence starters, York Notes and a paw-friendly keyboard he could have turned in better results. Then, when it finally dawned on me that I had too much to do and too little time to do it, I teetered on the edge of blind panic.

But the jar that caused my shelf to collapse was my husband's arrival home. He was on 24-hour shore leave from Manchester and came back looking for love.

Now, usually when he comes home I make a bit of an effort. You know the sort of thing: change the sheets, shave your armpits and pick the hairs from his razor. But this time I was too exhausted to bother. Nor did his opening comments improve his chances of romance. Being told that one of your eyes looks puffy has a similar aphrodisiac effect to being told that your U-bend is blocked.

Things went from bad to worse. After watching two episodes of Family Guy in barbed silence we eventually went to bed. An exploratory hand strayed in my direction; my body stiffened in reply. When you're feeling that knackered, someone else's orgasm is another unwanted deadline. He retreated behind a wall of hurt feelings. "Sorry," I whispered, "I'm exhausted." "I'm tired, too," he replied in a voice carved out of stone. Soon the familiar rhythmic movements of the bedclothes reminded me that in love, as well as teaching, my presence was expendable.

So I pushed the nuclear button. I heard myself saying: "Sometimes I feel so bad I wish that I was dead." It was shameful attention seeking played out on a tragic stage. I cried wolf because I was tired and wanted sympathy. I wanted him to say "poor you", to make a fuss and not be in a huff.

I should have tried to explain that I'd had a terrible week; that one of the children had been ill and my workload was spiralling out of control. I should have asked for a hug and some chamomile tea rather than setting off a nail bomb of hurt.

Ironically, for someone who teaches language, I can be remarkably bad with words. That's probably why my students' essays were so shit. When a teacher can't communicate with her partner, what chance do her students really have?

Anne Thrope (Ms) is a secondary teacher in the North of England. @AnnethropeMs.

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