Please take my yufti

6th June 2003 at 01:00
I REMEMBER the guy's name, which I'll keep to myself, but not his exact job.

He had just been promoted to HT or DEO or something semi-high-powered. We were at a party hosted by one of my colleagues. He was introduced to me by his wife who was also one of my workmates, one whom I regarded as an ally.

"Well, Gregor," said the HT, DEO or MFI??, "in my position I'm interested in your opinions of how we can make life better for probationers like yourself."

"Don't give us please-takes."

Before I really had a chance to explain myself, the HT, DEO or MFC?? explained that, for reasons of economy, that wouldn't be feasible. He then told me a funny story about falling backwards into a sink when he was a probationer himself.

The dislike of please-takes went beyond the obvious "loss of preparation time". Nowadays it is (usually) an advantage if I walk into a cover class to be met by some familiar faces. In those early days this was not the case.

Picture my joy when, following a gruelling morning session with my Standard grade science class, I would walk into a geography "yufti" (as in "yufti take them") to be greeted by the same beaming punk rockers who had put me through the mill earlier in the day. Not only that: some of the ropier ones from S4 physics were there too, comparing notes and swapping amusing anecdotes. It was all markedly worse on unfamiliar territory when you didn't know where the paper for the punnies was kept.

Nowadays I sometimes enjoy the unfamiliar territory. Most of the time, though, I am a homebird. My classroom is my "comfort zone". PE please-takes take me out of this zone. Although there is often a "buzz" and plenty of moving around in a science lab, it takes a fair bit of time - about the first 45 minutes of a 50-minute period - to get used to the fact that running, whooping and diving around are all perfectly legitimate in a gym hall.

This is the time of year when opportunities to remove me from my safe haven abound. Our place has an activity block which runs for two or three days for S1 to S3 during study leave. I enthusiastically organise activities for all slots but my motives are far from altruistic. It's my way of making sure I'm never put in charge of something whose rules I do not fully understand and whose landscape is not well kent.

Come to think of it, I'm not sure I don't prefer a quiet night at home to a party these days.

Gregor Steele will never come out of retirement to do supply.

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