Thank God It's Friday

18th November 1994 at 00:00
Monday: The survey's being done on our house today, at last. We're returning to our roots in the north, now we've both retired from teaching. Our missionary work in the south of England is at an end; more than 70 years in the classroom between us but not too many converts. Still the children pronounce the word "past" as if it had the letter "r" in the middle. And still they spell it like that. Perhaps Gillian Shephard will have better luck.

Tuesday: The people buying our house want to move in as soon as possible so we have a lot of clearing out to do. We start in the loft.

Why are teachers such hoarders? Pine cones, bottles, wool, shells, brown paper. Even a vintage Child Education magazine, circa l962, with sexist and racist pictures a-plenty.

I thought the local primary school might make use of the deer antlers and the box of yoghurt pots. The school has gone grant-maintained but they're always organising events to raise money so I took round a box of goodies.

It's the first time I've been into a school since I retired and the memories come flooding back, inspired by the smell of school dinners and polish.

And two small boys standing facing the wall next to the headteacher's room.

A wet lunchtime, and already I was beginning to forget the teacher's lot. And that irks for I mustn't forget.

Teachers need all the support they can get.

Wednesday: Still sorting, but now we've moved to the garage. The only destination for most of the junk is the council rubbish tip. At its entrance I am stopped by a group of children with their teacher. Would I mind answering some questions? How far had I come with my rubbish? What was in it? How often did I visit the tip? Were there better ways of getting rid of rubbish? That sort of thing.

Driving home, I thought a lot about what the children had been learning. Which attainment targets? Programmes of study? And how to get rid of rubbish.

Thursday: I called in at the estate agents where a student from a local school was doing work experience. He told me he'd been advised to see what the real world looked like before he set out on his chosen career of teaching. I didn't ask who gave him that advice.

Friday: The solicitor rings to say we're ready to exchange contracts and a completion date is fixed. They say that moving house is one of the most stressful things in life but my wife and I disagree. We think it'll be a piece of cake compared with what we endured as headteachers.

And that was stress which lasted for five or six years when the "furniture" was constantly being moved and changed - by other people. No, we're definitely in charge this time and they do say a change is as good as a rest.

Dennis Ruston and his wife Denise, who taught mostly in Hertfordshire, have moved from Leighton Buzzard to Horbling in Lincolnshire.

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