On humour, happiness . . . and the Hibees for the Cup

16th February 2001 at 00:00
I was delighted that John Johnston (TESS, February 9) managed to read my last piece on his flying visit north of the border, but somewhat gobsmacked to be accused of terminal moaning and sadness!

Regular readers will have spotted the tongue firmly lodged in the cheek, and will know that over the years my pieces have advocated that the small but vocal band of teachers who moan incessantly should do the honourable thing and get out of teaching, as Mr Johnston apparently has done.

Indeed previous comment on the letters page has accused me of hopeless sentimentality for my optimistic and joyous celebration of the teaching profession.

Let me reassure readers now pitying my "sad life" that I continue to love teaching immensely, hugely appreciate the holidays and regularly tell friends how lucky I am to have the job I have.

This is not, of course, to suggest that our working conditions, any more than in any other areas of working life, are ideal, but the humorous slant of the piece was an attempt to amuse, by xaggerating the chaos engendered by the commitment to education in the McPartlin household.

The positive point was that, as is the case with many professionals, the vast majority of teachers put up with stressed conditions and long working hours simply because they are so committed to their career, and, if there are any staff whose "working day finishes at 4pm" they certainly haven't worked in any of the schools that I've experienced.

Colleagues tell me that the crime of which I'm mostly likely to be accused is excessive levity and it's sadly the case that the "self-referential angst" in my life is almost exclusively reserved for those occasions when I reflect on Hibernian FC's appalling Scottish Cup record.

To set the record straight, in case my attempts at subtle humour have confused any other Yorkshire based readers, I haven't actually invited Gavin McCrone round for tea, or to review my domestic arrangements: it was just a joke - honest!

Sean McPartlin Corstorphine Hill Gardens, Edinburgh

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