Thank God it's Friday

28th November 1997 at 00:00
Monday: I'm sitting at my desk, relaxed, happy even, and my Year 6 class is working quietly. One girl holds a finger to her lips as another tries to chat. I smile at her and mark down a team-point. My lively class has taken a long time to reach this level of courtesy and industry. I watch with pleasure.

Suddenly I feel a sharp impact on the side of my face. Liquid rushes into my ear as though my head has been forced underwater. I see, though cannot fully hear, children shouting. Have I been shot? No. The viscous liquid that spurts from my head, sprays my books and penetrates the neck of my blouse is not blood but egg.

Tuesday: I have not found it easy to return to work this morning but the debris has been cleared from my desk and in its place, flowers from a colleague.

Lunch time is spent giving a statement to a police officer. The assailants were pupils here a couple of years ago. A prank gone wrong, he says. I find myself justifying my desire to press charges. "When do we check these boys? After throwing an egg, or do we wait until it's a brick?" Wednesday: A colleague leaving school this afternoon is startled when a brick, thrown from the roof, strikes the ground near her. She drives home, from where she phones a warning. The children on the roof are identified as the assailants from Monday. The head dials 999. When the police eventually arrive, they are pelted with rubble. The children make their escape into the estate.

Thursday: The chief education officer has written to the head. It is not feasible to take legal action against the children because of their age, he explains. For this reason it is not possible to take out an injunction barring them from the premises.

As the day draws to a close, I sit in my classroom marking books. My heart accelerates as from above my head I hear scrabbling on the roof. Rumour has it the boys haven't been home in days and are sleeping rough. A stone flicks against the window.

Friday: My class asks what is happening to "the boys". They hear so frequently that actions have consequences that they have developed a prurient curiosity.

"Well," I say slowly, "the police are involved."

They nod seriously.

Unwilling to reveal that nothing much will happen I resort to teacher-speak: "They are going to be in very hot water...And I don't mean taking a bath. "

There are satisfied giggles.

At 5pm as I put my bags into the car I can just make out two boys by the railings. Uneasily I recognise the smaller as one of my assailants. Our eyes meet briefly before he runs away. His friend yells after him: "What's wrong with you? Scared or something?" As I watch him racing into the estate I reflect that life is full of anxiety for all of us who find ourselves living outside the law.

Mary Bland lives in Cheshire

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