Not to be sneezed at
I can't see them but I know they are there: lurking in dark places, biding their time, seeking the right moment to launch a devastating attack. And when they do I will be utterly defenceless. They will strike me down and leave me weak and broken. And our mainly female staff will shake their heads and say, "God, why are men so pathetic?"
Winter has arrived, but it is not the prospect of frostbitten earlobes from playground duties that strikes dread into my heart. Even the interminable carol concert rehearsal schedule cannot be held responsible. The only really scary thing about winter is the children: those unwitting carriers of massed ranks of viruses that infiltrate my immune system, inhabit my nasal passages and occupy my mucous membranes before you can say "A...a...atchoo!"
See how the children cough and sneeze over every page I have to mark. Watch how they probe with clammy fingers each piece of equipment I must arrange into a semblance of order at the end of the day. Observe how they invade my personal space, with secretions threatening upper respiratory infection dribbling from every facial orifice.
Well the dark days are over, my friends. The fear of cross infection has been well and truly zapped. The answer has arrived and it is as easy as ABC, which stands for antibacterial cleanser. Effective, hygienic and completely alcohol free, ABC kills more than 99.9 per cent of germs. Its easy-to-use, grip-'n'-spray bottle design is perfect for small hands and its gentle, child-friendly formula makes it ideal for families, schools and nurseries.
But its usefulness does not end there. ABC is also a powerful learning tool that gives children the opportunity to do practical science in a literally hands-on way. This is why I wasted no time in using it to teach my class about the dangers of microorganisms and how illness can be spread from one child to another - and to their teacher.
"How do I know all the micro-orgasms are dead?' asks Nathan. He holds an antibacterially cleansed hand up to the light and examines it for evidence of wholesale slaughter.
"They're called microorganisms," I explain. "They are too small to be seen with the naked eye. You need a powerful microscope." I point to the image of a cold virus on my interactive whiteboard. "That's one up there." It looks like a big green ball with spikes coming out of it.
He gasps with disbelief, then re-examines his hands with the intense zeal of a germicidal maniac. "But what if they're not all dead?"
"Look, this is one of those times when you just have to put your trust in learning, Nathan. Have faith in all those children who listened in their science lessons and studied microbiology at university before going on to develop products like ABC. Now before you hand in your science book, have another good squirt."
For the first time since the clocks went back I go to bed on a school night in the sure and certain knowledge that I will not cough and splutter my way through the winter. Pupil-borne infection is already a thing of the past. This year I will be as healthy a teacher as you could ever wish to share a staffroom with.
"Where's Mr Eddison?" asks Nathan the following day.
"He's at home in bed with man flu," says Mrs Himmler. She is unable to disguise the contempt in her voice.
"That'll be the microorgasms," says Nathan, knowledgeably.
Steve Eddison is a key stage 2 teacher at Arbourthorne Community Primary School in Sheffield.