Proud of our calling?;Talkback

8th May 1998 at 01:00
Suspicion started to nag about halfway through the Guardian's lonely hearts column. An idle browse became a serious investigation.

Of the 190 women seeking a mate, 18 gave their occupation. Ten of these were teachers. No other job was mentioned more than once.

Of the 23 men who revealed their profession, five were teachers - again, the largest group. It didn't take a league table to show that more teachers were advertising for mates than those with any other named occupation.

This was alarming. Was I lucky to have entered the profession already spoken for? Were my unattached colleagues heading for a future of parading their GSOH and being named and shamed at singles night? Did a life at the chalkface really make finding a partner more difficult? I don't remember anyone mentioning this occupational hazard during training, but then nobody mentioned phonics either.

Why did so many teachers feel they had to reveal their occupation alongside their personalities and love of clubspubscountry walks? Perhaps it is because teaching is more than a job. It enters your soul and becomes part of any definition of self. It is that worm inside that prevents us from answering a simple question such as "why is my bath cold?" with "because Dad used all the hot water", but instead impels us to draw a diagram of the water supply with particular reference to the header tank. We can do no other. We are teachers.

Perhaps we are just trying to be honest to avoid disappointment later. Should love blossom into commitment, the teacher's mate knows not to expect conscious companionship during the weeks of report-writing, OFSTED inpsections, the months leading up to OFSTED inspections, staff meeting nights, parents' even-ings - in fact during term time.

Unconvinced, I return to the adverts. A ridiculous idea presents itself. It couldn't possibly be that some teachers are proud of what they do? That they think being a teacher is such a worthy calling that others WLTM them?

This appeals. I like to think of the not-so-lonely heart finally enjoying a romantic dinner for two. Music, candlelight I but what's this? Plastic cutlery!

"No hot water," says the waiter. "I don't know why." Our heroine grabs a Berol and starts to sketch on the napkin. "You see, this is the rising main..." * Bev Maydon teaches at Forty Hill primary school, Enfield, north London

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