Thank God It's Friday

16th June 1995 at 01:00
Monday: It's 6.45am and my soon-to-be six-year-old is asking if it's time to go on holiday yet. Then the other three are awake and I've no choice but to get up and let my wife have a lie-in. By 9.30am she and the children will be off and away on a caravan holiday in Northumberland, leaving Dad with 350 national curriculum maths test books to mark.

Having walked the dog I'm ready to start at l0.00am. Nine books in, the phone goes. It's good news. A pack of key stage 2 maths papers, previously thought missing, has ended up with a science marker 10 miles away. Back to work, pausing only for a quick lunch.

By tea-time I'm hungry and decide on sausages. Then the phone goes and I'm into a maths test conversation again until the smoke alarm shrieks. The dog gets the burnt sausages. I have a fried egg.

Tuesday: My peace is shattered at 8am by a pneumatic drill - workmen are digging up the village street. I walk the dog, feed the cats, get to work. But a diesel generator has now started up outside the house to operate the traffic lights. I retreat to the back room. To combat the generator my tape deck comes into action.

Above the din I hear the phone again - deputy chief marker tells me that my marking sample, sent seven days ago, has failed to make it over the Pennines into Lancashire. Please can I send some more? A mad dash to the post but I've missed the morning one.

Only a few books get marked as team members ring up to get permission to mark in pen, not pencil, but I can't give it until my marking has been cleared. Decide on a boiled egg for lunch. Gas fails to work because a JCB digger has fractured the gas main. Skip lunch and carry on.

Curry for tea now that the gas supply is restored. On my own I can eat what I like. The generator is still going and I need a sleeping potion so the dog and I toddle off to the pub. He leads me home much later, past the clattering generator.

Wednesday: Today, having received the all-clear from Lancashire, I have to check the work of all my team members. Six hours later at 4.30pm I just catch the post with eight bulging envelopes. An hour's marking then - ah, bliss! - chilli for tea. Generator is still at it.

Thursday: About 50 books ahead of schedule so decide to pop into Whitby for a haircut. My first choice hairdresser has gone on holiday, another has closed down leaving but one. Half the male population of Whitby seems to be in there. Make an appointment for Friday.

Back home to more marking, and to discover the cats have learned how to open the fridge and are just finishing the bacon that was my tea. They are obviously in league with my wife and are saving me from an unhealthy diet.

Friday: Up early to greet the generator and to finish the last 30 books. Cut my finger on a raised staple and start dripping blood. The only red marks on these books are supposed to be ink. There's no plasters in the bathroom -they're on their hols too.

By 2pm I've finished marking, vacuumed, mopped, dusted and had my hair cut. At 3pm, the family returns and the house feels normal again. They've had a great time and I've survived.

Will I do it next year? Probably, so long as nobody's planning to dig up the village street.

The author is a primary teacher living in North Yorkshire.

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