Inspired by his wife and a failing school, Nigel Jepson has thrown caution
and underwear to the wind in his new novel. Amanda Kelly reports.
STEAMY sex with an OFSTED inspector is an experience few heads could imagine.
So it is no surprise to discover that the story of an inspector who finds himself obsessed by the vital statistics of a blonde and sexy headteacher rather than those of her failing school is a work of fiction.
However, as author Nigel Jepson freely admits, the plot for his racy new novel, The Inspector and the Superhead, was inspired by experiences close to home.
As well as being a headteacher and qualified Office for Standards in Education inspector himself, he is also married to superhead Anna White, the woman who brought The Ridings school in Halifax out of special measures.
And, just as Mr Jepson's fictional heroine gives up a deputy headship in a blaze of publicity to take over at the failing "New school" in 1996, so his wife left her job as deputy head at Todmorden high school, West Yorkshire, to take the helm of The Ridings in the same year.
Like The Ridings, the fictional establishment is branded a "school from hell". And like Ms White, the plucky heroine Lauren Quist is awarded a CBE when she succeeds in turning it around.
Mr Jepson said: "I think every writer draws on the people and situations they are familiar with and I have certainly used the situation at The Ridings as the setting for my book, but the plot is purely a product of my imagination."
Ms White, who faces another inspection at The Ridings early next year, said:
"There are more than a few things that ring a bell from my life at the school. The main character spends her time trying to juggle her job and inspection with social and family life and that is certainly very familiar.
"But my personal life is not half as exciting as hers."
Nigel, who is head of Haslingden high school, ossendale, Lancashire, said getting a book published had always been a burning ambition.
And although his job leaves him with little spare time, he managed to stick to his self-imposed target of penning 2,000 words a week, mostly at the weekends. He needed to finish the book before January when he goes on a two-term secondment to Ribbleton Hall secondary school in Preston.
"I have always put my work as a headteacher first, but I started writing the novel in January 1999 after I'd had the idea of writing about a school facing difficulties.
"Although it is set in the world of education, I am hoping it will also appeal to the broad reading public outside the profession."
"The Inspector and the Superhead" (Minerva Press, pound;10.99) will be on sale in bookshops from Monday. Also available from Unity Distribution, 01536 747628
MOMENTS OF PASSION...
THE FIRST MEETING
'"Hello, you must be
she stated demurely.
"Er, yes..." I
rising to my feet.
"You're very tall!"
with an emphasis
'Then the door sprang open, causing me to react in total disbelief. True, Lauren had the property guide in her hand, but in place of purple top and black trousers, Lauren was wearing only a white silk dressing gown.
'"There you are, little boy! Now come and sit down
by my side here on the bed," she entreated me in
'Sexually, she knew exactly how to combine pleasure and pain to maximum effect. Once, for example, she had found a twelve-inch ruler in the flat bearing the names of the kings and queens of England since 1066. Used as a measuring device, the reign of William and Mary from 1688 to 1702 had a particular significance to us thereafter...'