School diary - It's all going horribly thong, I mean, wrong

16th January 2009 at 00:00


A complaint has arrived with Frank O'Farrell, asking him to "have words" with Miss MacDonald, the undeniably attractive student who is on placement in his modern studies department.

He was shaking his head as he read this morning's email from our headteacher. "Unbelievable," he sighed: "Pocahontas McLeod's mother has complained about Pauline wearing a thong. She says it's inappropriate for a teacher, especially when it's on view above her trousers."

"And is it?" I queried.

"Can't say I've noticed, Morris," he insisted, although I thought I detected the beginnings of a grin.

I ignored it and asked: "So when are you going to discuss it?"

"I'm not," he shrugged. "Her tutor's coming on Friday, so I'll give it to him."

It seemed an abdication, but I suppose it's a delicate matter.


Brian Paige, who took early retirement just before Christmas, was in school picking up some of his old paintings from the art department. He is enjoying the first flushes of freedom, although he still finds himself "exasperated beyond belief by the petty bureaucracies of Scottish education".

"How d'you mean?" asked our depute Frank Atkinson.

"Well, remember how I used to do some home-tutoring for Melissa Chalmers' crash Higher after she was sick last November? And I did it in my spare time or at free periods, which was fine. But her mum wanted to keep it going after I retired, so Rosemary Slater said we should make it more official, and she could get it paid for out of the ASN budget, then just pay me as a home tutor."

"Seems a good idea."

I thought so, Morris. But the council office says I can't go to her home for tutoring because I've not been disclosed yet."

"But you were disclosed when you went before Christmas?"

"Of course. But I'm in a different role as a home tutor, so I've got to be disclosed again - which will take the usual umpteen weeks, by which time it'll be time to sit her Higher!"

You couldn't make it up. I gather Mrs Chalmers is going to reject the school's offer of home tutoring by Brian - and come to a personal arrangement with him instead. You really couldn't make it up.


Popped into Frank O'Farrell's classroom this afternoon to pass on some Voluntary Service Overseas posters, only to discover his Intermediate class being taken by the delightful Miss MacDonald, with Frank observing from the back.

She was certainly the cynosure of all eyes - especially male ones - and I began to appreciate Mrs McLeod's complaints about the girl's dress sense: a low-cut and tight-clinging jumper accentuated every curve of her extremely slim torso, while her light-coloured, low-slung hipster trousers hugged every curve of her nether regions, as well as revealing a distinct lack of traditional underwear by the appearance of a small strip of material around her slightly-visible waist.

She was facing the whiteboard when I arrived, and it was clear from Jason Bonetti's face that he, for one, was imagining some interactive activities not normally associated with the curriculum. Still, at least he was facing the front of the class for once.

"Yes?" Miss MacDonald stopped in mid-sentence and smiled. "Can I help you, Mr Simpson?"

"Um ... er ...," I flustered, as I found myself momentarily stumped for words, my mind still on Mrs McLeod's complaint. "I ... uh ... just brought these VPL posters for Mr O'Farrell - I mean VSO posters, sorry, and er ... - oh, there he is!" I caught his grinning mug in the back corner as the class burst out laughing. "I'll just leave them here on your desk, then," I concluded lamely and made a hasty retreat.

"Thanks," she smiled warmly again. "Right, fourth year!" she called their attention as I left. "Eyes front!"

Most needed no second invitation. Especially Bonetti.


David McManus, or "Coarse Davie" as our senior biology teacher is better known, has once again transgressed acceptable taste boundaries.

Today, he was having a go at the laudable aims of A Curriculum for Excellence - or, as I gather it is now supposed to be called in smart circles, simply CfE. I don't know what difference is made by the omission of the indefinite article, but Davie still considers the entire programme a waste of time, and has re-titled every relevant document in his folder on the school IT system with the term "Curriculum for Excrement" on the grounds that he claims to "view all such centrally-driven initiatives with a scatological eye".

If the council's IT department scanned his personal folders, then he'd be in real trouble. In any case, it's an extremely childish gesture by anyone's standards, and I don't think the term "Curriculum for Excrement" will stick. So to speak.


Frank O'Farrell brought up Miss MacDonald's attire with her tutor, John Hardy, this morning, but he seemed obstructive at first.

"You know, this kind of intervention will be a thing of the past before long," he informed us gravely. "We ITE tutors won't be coming out to see our students in action in future."

"Why not?" asked Frank.

"We're all being pulled out of training students in our subject areas, so we can move into educational research, which is where the money is."

"And the students? How will they learn? Who'll teach them?" I chipped in.

"They'll be instructed using the FOFO personalised learning methodology - you know, F*** Off, Find Out yourselves."

I confessed that the terminology was new to me, but encouraged him to take Frank's pleas about Miss MacDonald seriously.

"Oh, I'll have a word with her," he agreed. "I'll do it after school, when it's getting dark."

"Why then?"

He shrugged. "It's the old story, Morris. Just a thong at twilight."

Dear me. And they say the old ones are the best.

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