Monday At the weekend I tell my fretting husband that I now feel relaxed. Our daughter is at college and I'm back into the routine of school. He's moping about as there is no supply work in the pipeline and he's suffering from Unwanted Executive Syndrome.
For the past few days he has been going through The Great Novel, as he calls it. He started it last year but then stashed it away in boxes. "God, this is good stuff," he exclaims as he refamiliarises himself with plot and characters. "Sex, blood and thunder. A sort of everyday tale of staffroom and headteacher folk in a leafy-lane village school rocked by scandal and intrigue. Miss Read, eat your heart out."
Tuesday There's a settled order in my reception world. The children call me by a variety of names: Mitty Tomat, Mrs Teacher, Missy Tommy. But my husband is still restless: another day goes by without the phone ringing. He has that worried and unshaven look of the unemployed former VIP.
"God, the ultimate degradation of retirement," he says when I get home. He produces two large tins of white emulsion and two new brushes. "Have I really come to this," he asks, eyeing the brushes. "Painting bloody ceilings."
"But The Great Novel," I soothe him. "You were doing so well. Have you lost your thread?" "The blood and thunder is fine," he replies. "But I'm stuck on the sex."
Wednesday The paint remains unopened; the brushes are still pristine. He moans the entire evening. "Do you realise, in my prime I could silence a staffroom with a raised eye, could do the dinner books with no calculator, could quell 4C in mid riot. Look at me now - hanging out washing."
"Darling," I soothe him, "think of it as actors do, as merely resting."
Thursday He's on pins. Things are afoot. There's something in the offing. "This could mean turkey for Christmas, proper presents, some tyres for the car." He pauses for breath. "And best of all - they might let me join their lottery syndicate."
Friday My mind is not on my work today - it is on the thought of my husband emulsioning a ceiling. I'd rather have paid a decorator.
He's found some work across the city. "I start Monday," he beams.
"But the novel?" "It's back on hold. It'll have to wait. Priority is the literacy hour."
"So the sex?" "Good God," he replies. "No time for that. There's books to get ready, schemes to read, pencils to sharpen."
Harriet Thomas is a reception class teacher in Leeds