Special days

31st October 2003 at 00:00
Maria Corby begins her diary of life in a special school with a message for the makeover brigade

I'd really like a makeover team to come and do me one of these days. I'm tired of reading about women with proper jobs in the glossies: "Following a hard day of usury, Trudy relaxes at home in a linen two-piece." "City girl Rowena looks the business in a sexy pinstripe." "Management consultant Teri exudes warmth and professionalism in tweed."

Exuding warmth and professionalism is what I'm all about but it's not so easy with the knees worn through my Karen Millen trousers and sick on the shoulder of my Chanel suit. What could they suggest, I wonder, for someone who could be crawling on the floor "intensively interacting" with a profoundly disabled child at 11am and in a lunch meeting with governors at 12? Or on toilet duty, hoisting and dealing with the needs of a physically disabled, 12-stone 15-year-old at 1pm and showing new parents around the school at 1.30? Or maybe running up the corridor like Paula Radcliffe after an escapee at 3pm and posing for a photo for the local paper with the swimminglitter-picking Young Enterprise team at 3.10?

What would they come up with? A business suit with a pair of Reeboks? Maybe a Bucks Fizz-type skirt that I could fling off to reveal nifty Lycra shorts underneath? What about the 14-hour days that go from teaching to staff meeting to course to evening governors' meeting with hardly time to go to the loo in between, never mind a quick makeover in the ladies?

I've got the hang of waterproof mascara now and contact lenses don't get pulled off like my glasses did, so I'm learning some of the tricks of the trade. Jewellery has to be non-dangly and hair tied back. Shoes must be sensible. How lovely it would be to slip on a pair of kitten heels or show off in the latest Jimmy Choos.

Students on work experience are always shocked when I tell them they'll have to do without their platform trainers, razor-like nails and facial piercings.

So what will my new spring wardrobe contain? I've thought about a sari - practical, elegant and never out of fashion. But would it stand up to five-a-side at lunchtime? Oh well. "Dear Trinny and Susannah..."

Maria Corby is the deputy head of a special school for pupils with severe and multiple learning difficulties in the west of England. She writes under a pseudonym

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