Goldfish bowl too tight for comfort

20th June 2003 at 01:00
THERE I am, middle-aged belly starting to hang over what I now realise are trunks clearly one size too small. Suddenly those dreaded words ring loudly across the local swimming pool: "Hello Mr Ogle!"

It is a bunch of kids from my Year 4 class, thrilled to the point of amazement to find me there. But that level of detached authority you try to maintain in class is hard to preserve when you are three-quarters naked and worried about love handles.

Well, I can't say I wasn't warned. Having experienced commutes into work of up to an hour and a half, I was convinced that metaphorically living above the shop was the way ahead. But when I told friends that I was moving into a flat a four-minute walk from school, I was met with much pursing of lips and sucking through teeth.

"Your life will be like one long episode of reality TV," a teaching friend asserted. "But instead of cameras, you'll have the eyes of children and parents on you when you least expect it."

And it is true, it is a bit like being on Big Brother, but without the swimming pool and the chickens. Except in my case it does include the swimming pool.

Tumble out of pubs at closing time and if you tumble on to a passing parent, you do worry how the edited highlights will appear via the bush telegraph.

Another day and I roll out of bed on a late Sunday morning, not looking in my prime as I wander unwashed and unshaven down to the newsagent for a paper. Of course, I bump into Mr Ahmed who until now has been enormously pleased with the professional job I am doing with his son.

Miss Jean Brodie I am not.

Cut to a bush-lined area of the local park as I tuck into a romantic picnic. Mohammed and his elder brother race by with a football, looking rather shocked to see Mr Ogle with a woman.

Inwardly I scream: "I'm a teacher - get me out of here!"

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