Thank God its Friday

23rd June 1995 at 01:00
Monday: I'm singing as I drive home. Old Lloyd Webber hits, loud and tuneless. Not for joy, but to release the tension. It doesn't work. How long will they take to decide? When can I expect the phone to ring?

Late news is always bad news, so how long should I wait before surrendering to disappointment?

My wife Ash returns with our two children and this week's house guest - my sister-in-law. As we crowd into the one-bedroomed flat that was never meant to be a family home, the need for success in this application becomes obvious. If it were not for IKEA's double bed on stilts and Victorian ceilings, we could never have coped as long as we have.

I am left with our baby as the rest go shopping. The strain is getting to me and in the middle of her messy supper I unleash a stream of profanities that would make even a Year 11 pupil blush. Niamh responds with the untroubled smiles and gurgles of a five-month-old.

Phone calls scatter through the evening like false dawns. Ash cuts her mother short - "he's waiting to hear about his job."

In the silence in-between I tap the receiver each time I pass, just to check it's not off the hook.

At 10pm they haven't rung. They said they'd ring everyone this evening. We go to bed. Ash dreams I was offered the job by the trial jury in Brookside. I dream of cricket.

Tuesday: At school everyone is sympathetically curious. I am resigned to failure but angry at the waiting. A colleague relieves me in the middle of a lesson - "a call for you".

No need to ask from whom, as I gratefully scuttle to the staffroom. He couldn't contact the successful candidate until 8am - hence the delay.

The one I suspected got it. "Nothing about your personal qualities, simply your experience. Sincere commiserations." I sense a catch 22. I can't get experience in his type of school because I haven't got experience in his type of school.

Oh well, on to the young enterprise area semi-final.

On hearing that only three schools are left in this event the first team's leader exclaims: "Oh we must be the winners!" I decide that I hate them.

Everyone is set up, their stands festooned with curtains, as my tracksuit-clad team put in a first appearance.

Even in their smartest gear, one girl is wearing a pair of the deputy head's shoes. The mini-skirt and suede Doc Martens make a loud if unintelligible fashion statement.

My team displays a creditable but fictitious sense of unity. I thank their acting skills if nothing else. We don't win, but then neither did the team I hated, despite an extremely professional approach. It seems the competition is as much a lottery as job interviews.

Wednesday: A quiet day which I fail to make the best of. I have a long chat with the mature student taking my Year 8 class.

I sometimes fantasise about swapping careers and instantly doubling my salary, which makes me wonder why this woman, with a successful marketing career, should want to move into teaching and halve her salary.

I break the news to my understanding colleagues that because of another interview I'll be absent on Friday, so they will be sitting with my classes. I vow to make amends when this round of interviews is finally settled.

Thursday: No point in going home when the Year 10 parents' evening starts at 7pm so I make use of the free time to set up my room with work for the Friday classes.

Some parents' evenings I feel like a fortune-teller pretending to dispense facts, but largely just responding to the parents' reactions.

This one is different - I know these children and their parents quite well. We joke, we laugh. I discuss A-level courses as if I will be there, because on current form I might.

Like Schrodinger's cat I am in a superposition of states, I have neither failed nor succeeded in tomorrow's application.

Friday: I am the first to arrive. Of four short-listed candidates two have withdrawn. Perhaps one of them was the man who got my job on Monday.

I don't find interviews gruelling, never have done but I always suspect that decisions are reached long before that stage. Interviews seem to be about how to order the runners-up, rather than pick the winner.

The other candidate to attend is a pleasant, diffident man. We talk as you do. Mine is a problem of promotion and accommodation; his is one of redundancy and a family still waiting to follow him south.

I am home by 3.30. As the waiting starts, the tension is low. The phone rings at 4.30 - early news is good news. I have a job. Perhaps not the end of our problems, rather a chance at last to worry about the next set of problems. Spare a thought for the loser.

Matthew Munro lives in Streatham, south London

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