Sweet justice

26th September 2014 at 01:00

Those of us who have turned up on time for our staff meeting cringe before the message on the noticeboard. It is distinct from the others by virtue of its boldness, its capital letters and its exclamation marks. It says: WILL THE THIEF WHO STOLE MY TIRAMASU FROM THE FRIDGE PLEASE CHOKE ON IT!!!! "Well, it wasn't me," I declare. "I have type 2 diabetes. Everyone knows it's controlled through diet!" Then because it sounds like I'm protesting too much I shut up and cast a wary eye over my colleagues.

There is no shortage of suspects. Teaching children leaves you ravenous. And it is a well-known fact that starving teachers, like scavenging hyenas, will scour every corner of a deserted staffroom for something to satisfy their hunger.

Because we are a "healthy eating" school, apples, satsumas and raw carrots are in constant supply. But good, wholesome, vitamin-rich fruit and vegetables are largely ignored by predatory teachers. They hanker after something more desirable: a half-eaten bar of chocolate, a forgotten jam-filled doughnut, a finger of Kit Kat that has somehow become separated from the rest.

In class we are reading Michael Rosen's poem Chocolate Cake. In it the author explains how, as a boy, he fell to the temptation of a half-eaten chocolate cake. It woke him up in the middle of the night and drove him to creep downstairs in search of it. He planned only to look at it and smell it. He meant only to eat the crumbs that were on the plate. The tiniest sliver was all he intended to take. But the allure was too great. He couldn't stop himself. In no time at all he devoured the lot. Like most thieves, the young Michael tried to cover up his crime. He got rid of the evidence by washing the plate and knife and crept quietly back to bed. In the morning, with a bit of luck, his mum would have forgotten about it and he would go undetected. But like most thieves he made one mistake and a tiny smear of chocolate cream on his face gave him away.

Our staff meeting agenda is rapidly rearranged. Implementing the new primary curriculum is moved to item three. Addressing the problem of Year 6 students not hitting reading targets becomes item two. Our new emergency item one is the serious matter of stolen tiramisu.

Because our staff meeting is straight after school, the crime must have taken place during the afternoon when most teachers were in class. In that case the thief, despite being the lowest, most despicable person on God's earth, had to have certain qualities. It had to be someone daring and confident, resourceful and clever; but most of all someone completely above suspicion.

The door opens. "Sorry I'm late," says our headteacher. "I had something important to polish off. I mean finish off.What's the matter?" She moves a hand instinctively towards her face. "Why are you all staring at me?"

Steve Eddison teaches at Arbourthorne Community Primary School in Sheffield

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