Thank God it's Friday

5th March 1999 at 00:00
Monday It's been a good day, so far. The business of teaching and learning has gone well, the weather has been reasonable and the children have been able to get out and play.

I'm feeling quietly optimistic about the rest of the week. But at 6pm, as I sit down to some administration, my husband rings to say that he's just heard the electricity is going off in half-an-hour. This is island teaching, after all!

Apparently, a flock of "hoodie" crows landed on some wires, there was a large, green flash - and one fatality.

The power comes back on about an hour later. We breathe a sigh of relief ... and it goes off again at 10pm.

Tuesday We still have no power at 7am. I phone the Hydro Board. They can't tell me when it will be restored.

At 8am I begin phoning round transport, parents and staff. Our ageing island installations have meant a regular pattern of power cuts recently. If it continues, we'll have to make alternative arrangements to keep the school open.

I remember we've got a bottled gas heater buried somewhere in our storage shed, so I go "ferreting", find it and carry it into school. It's lost three of its wheels, but the local gas supplier on the mainland promises to send a packet of replacements on the afternoon boat.

Power is restored at lunchtime, but I don't have much luck rounding up anyone for afternoon school.

Wednesday The weather has deteriorated and a big gale is forecast. The electricity is on, but the lights flicker ominously. I think I have made a pretty neat contingency plan, but the clerk of works doesn't agree. No, he says, I can't get the heater and a wee gas stove checked and use them. Do I want to go to court if there's an accident with equipment not supplied by them?

He will supply new heaters; I will have to phone the catering supervisor about an alternative cooker; he will see about lights.

Thursday The power goes off at 1pm and I send everyone home early. It promptly comes back on again.

Friday The weather is atrocious, with howling winds and torrential rain. But the power is still on.

By lunchtime, the rain has stopped and I let the children go outside. This is not a wise decision: there's a drainage ditch on one side of the playground which they haven't bothered with in ages. Now every child is in it building a dam. They're wet and muddy - and they're having a ball.

Morag MacPherson, head of a small island school in the west of Scotland, writes under a pseudonym

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