Tales of mutual embarrassment

13th April 2007 at 01:00
Irena Barker, TES reporter, remembers being the head's daughter

When you're a teenager, dads are inherently embarrassing, with their dodgy dancing and cable-knit tanktops. But when you are the head's daughter, it's taken to a whole new level.

Seven years at my dad's comprehensive in Peterborough left me with some mental scars that would make an interesting topic for a psychology PhD.

It's hard to pinpoint the worst moment: was it cowering in the back of my dad's Nissan as he sped across the school playing field to tick off two lads on the football pitch? Or when he sang a hideous karaoke version of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds to my English class? Or maybe it was the habit he had of tucking his hand down the back of his trousers as we filed into assembly?

Of course, I'm sure sometimes the embarrassment was mutual. On several occasions, my parents generously insisted on joining me for a school skiing trip to Austria. Papa was none too pleased when a PE teacher filmed me shouting "Dad! You bastard!" as he came crashing into me on a red run.

To deal with these difficulies, I tried to keep a low profile but this was never easy.

On my first day of Year 7, a teacher calling the register noticed my name and added at the top of his voice: "Are you the one with the famous daddy?"

I almost died. Other pupils constantly asked me how rich my dad was or if he "owned the school". Did I call him "Sir" at home, they enquired.

On the plus side, having a dad at the top probably saved me from bullying.

As was expected of the headmaster's offspring, I frequently came near the top of the class - social suicide in a school with 25 per cent A-C grades at GSCE. But I never took more than a bit of a ribbing and I had some good friends.

Relationships could be strange with teachers, though. Some gave me far too much attention. Others were deliberately standoffish, fearing I would discuss their badly-planned lessons with my dad. Which, to my shame, I did.

Overall, I wouldn't say my time as the head's daughter was that bad.

I did sometimes feel as if I was there as some kind of socialist political statement. But most of the time, I felt pretty proud to be related to old "Fuzzy Top," as the pupils nicknamed him.

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