Thank God it's Friday

26th June 1998 at 01:00

Eat football, sleep football, drink lots of white wine. While the non-teaching half of Oxford buzzes with World Cup frenzy, our house is recovering from the City First School's five-a-side tournament. Mercifully, I was spared the actual event and only had to help with the washing and drying of football strips, and with buying emergency provisions in case any parents forgot to provide lunch.

Unfortunately, this is not straightforward, as everything needs to be vetted for traces of peanuts in case of anaphylactic shock, too much food colouring in case of hyperactivity and too much sugar in case anyone's sick. I suspect Glen Hoddle has much the same kind of problem feeding the England squad.


The school fete looms and I begin the annual clear-out of the book case. This seemingly innocent task is fraught with anxiety because if you are a partner of a teacher, curious parents swoop on your bag of books when you hand it over, determined to sniff out the first sign of a Jilly Cooper or anything too racy. This year I have been secretly buying up Miss Read and Agatha Christie novels from OXFAM shops.

I'm not doing any baking; while I am suspicious of many of the offerings on the cake stand, my Victoria sandwich is not up to the scrutiny of the parent teachers' association. In fact, the cakes are best avoided altogether - in the one I bought last year I noticed a large number of holes where chocolate chips should have been.


Report writing is now in full swing. The rarely used thesaurus is being referred to in a desperate attempt to find gentler ways of phrasing "aggressive and tendency to bully small children". In fact it's hard to get any sense out of my partner, and the problem is clearly contagious.

Instead of suggesting going out for a curry, I find myself asking if he would like to develop an understanding of a broad, multicultural food provider in an urban area of our city, and that we could use a range of choreographed hopping, jumping and running movements to get there. No wonder we need the lunch boxes containing the literacy scheme - jargon is everywhere.


At last, we have booked our summer holiday. Obviously, I cannot reveal any details for fear of being spotted by pupils. You may laugh, but last year, in a pub garden in a Suffolk village, we saw not one but two families my partner taught. I am confident that our destination is obscure enough this year, so that just leaves the usual problems of limiting the number of educational photos he is allowed to take. Call me selfish, but I would actually like to feature in some of our holiday snaps rather than having three rolls of film ready for International Even-ing and key stage 2 geography.


Spend the evening trying on outfits for the fete. Determined not to be recognised this year after an unpleasant incident last summer. While ploughing my way through an inappropriately named "butterfly cake", a small girl came up and poked me. "Are you his girlfriend," she hissed, pointing a finger at my partner who was locked in the stocks while his class threw wet sponges at him. I am never sure how to answer this question for fear I may unleash a surge of classroom speculation about whether Sir's engaged, but before I could speak she continued: "I know you are because earlier on he bought you two chocolate muffins, held your hand twice and kissed you."

Then she was gone and I hurried home to check the rabbit as it all smacked of Fatal Attraction to me. After all, what could be worse than somebody counting how many muffins you eat.

Emma Howell lives in Oxford

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