Thank God It's Friday

10th March 1995 at 00:00
Monday: I'm in the infant department and ask what the assembly was about. "Andrew Cleese and the lion," they say. I put down what I'm carrying and we have a chat.

Moments later I learn an important lesson. Never put official documents on a flat surface in the reception classroom. They'll get covered in powder paint.

A colleague learnt another lesson recently when she filleted her frock with the paper trimmer. During the afternoon I rehearse diminutives with Year 2. "What's a baby deer?" I ask. "A fawn," says a little girl who's seen Bambi. "They grow on rose trees," says Peter confidently.

Tuesday: An early phone call gives us a boost. A mum tells me her child has been sick overnight. "I don't think there's much in it," she says. The photocopier plays up again, and I'm certain it has recognised its victim before deciding to paper-jam. Some people attract such difficulties.

Wednesday: A girl in Year 6 reports that her pet hamster went to the vet with an "abacus" in its mouth, her friend asks if "paws" and "pause" are hormones - she meant homophones. Then someone from the local education authority arrives. "I've come to check your externals," he says, in a no-nonsense voice. I note the jargon and regard him warily.

But the conversation at the swimming-pool is even more alarming. Sophisticated Darren has lent his deodorant to a friend. "Don't spray it on your tool, " he warns, "it hurts like hell." Perhaps he's the one whose sister explained his absence last week with the message "he's got something wrong with his tentacles".

Thursday: A teacher apologises that her blackboard drawing isn't very good, but she's reassured when an infant tells her it's excellent for her age. It must be her day, because later she's asked if the crocheted cardigan she's wearing was made by her granny.

Staffroom chat is about parents, and one teacher tells how she regarded a dad recently and thought "I wish I had long, wavy hair like yours". The conversation turns to unisex hairdressing, and I'm reminded of the theory that babies dislike bald men with beards because they think their heads are upside down. I attend a meeting after school and learn some more fascinating jargon "dipstick inspections".

Friday: It's a wet playtime and a delegation arrives at my door with a pile of hastily made birthday cards. The greeting on one says: "Happy Bathday". I get the message.

Other children have drawn pictures of me, and I check to see if I'm smiling. It's a perception I want them to have. So I'm not surprised to see a dinner-money cheque made out to St Merry's School.

Gillian Shephard seems to have settled in well. A suitable anagram of her name took some time to find, so I'm pleased to offer "helping rid a lash".

Luke Darlington is headteacher of St Mary's C of E Primary School, Yate, Bristol.

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