Missing the action

25th April 2003 at 01:00
I admit to being against our involvement in the war in Iraq, but now it's happening I want our soldiers to do a professional job and get out as quickly as possible with the minimum number of deaths on both sides. I had an opportunity to express my disagreement and, as our democracy decided war was the best course of action, I have supported our troops in their bravery.

I also admit to being very interested, as I was during the Falklands conflict. I do miss that spokesman chap who came on every night and spoke in an emotion-free drone about that day's events. I'll never forget the announcement about the loss of HMS Sheffield, as I was living in Sheffield at the time. Our local pub was named "Shiny Sheff" in its honour.

As I wake up with the 6am alarm, I gradually surface to the Today programme and the latest news from the war zones. The correspondents' descriptions of troops facing situations so much greater than my daily difficulties are giving me a more realistic perspective of my problems. How can I complain about finding a technology teacher, or abuse from a student, when life and death drama is being played out in the streets of Basra and Baghdad?

I've also noticed that education no longer gets a look in. I had become used to waking to a negative story about education. Politicians seem to have decided that education is the battleground for the hearts and minds of voters - and we're caught in the rhetorical crossfire. I'm sure my morale was hammered by the daily diet of imaginary failure. It seemed to take more and more of my emotional reserves to bounce back every day and be ready for another 6am downer. Then the war started.

So what has happened to all the news that no longer gets an airing because it has been pushed out of the way? Are dire things still happening? Is it safe to conclude that it was less serious than we thought?

I have taken heart because of this. I resolve to hold on to my new perspective when the war ends and we return to the bulletins. When the next trough appears, I will try to remember that "worse things happen in Iraq".

Not only are my problems less acute than I thought, they are less important nationally too.

Phil Bloomfield is head of Fitzharrys school, Abingdon, Oxfordshire

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