Thank God it's Friday

5th February 1999 at 00:00
Monday

I wake up with a thick head after performing at a comedy club last night. Performing for adults is just the same as doing assemblies in school, except the audience is bigger - and drunk. Can't swear in assemblies either - well, not usually. I spend most of today writing new stuff.

Tuesday

The first gig of the week is in a leafy suburban middle school. One of Woodhead's "cruisers" by the look of it. I perform to all 350 pupils, who are crammed into the hall like sardines. Teachers sit at the side looking bored - half of them are supply staff as the full-timers are being trained in the literacy hour. I've clearly been brought in to entertain.

The head sits near the door with his lap-top computer. Is he national curriculum compatible? The kids jiffle and talk. No one stops them. This is hard work. What do they expect - Michael Rosen? I spend the day being polite and encouraging. Hard work again.

I can't get my car out at the end of the day - lots of Volvo estates and middle-aged Mercs parked on the grass. I should have charged double.

Wednesday

I do a show and workshops at "Rag, Tag and Bobtail" county primary. I love working in so-called "deprived" areas as the kids are so wide-eyed and receptive.

I go into the playground at morning break to chat to the children. A nine-year-old girl says Cherylene called her a banker. "No, she didn't," I reply, but am gratified that at least she's picked up something about rhyming.

The day has gone well, so I treat myself to a new Mamp;S shirt - a beige, non-iron, button-down collar job.

Thursday

Work for most of the day with a Year 56 class in a village school. The class teacher says she's keen on her children writing poetry. The trouble is she only knows six poems and they're all acrostic: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Christmas and The Day It Snowed. A little lad shows me his Snow poem. It is dated June 12. All acrostic poems should be burned.

Friday

Wear my new shirt and go to the school down the road where I'm working on a project with Year 1. One of the dads is a printer and is going to produce a poetry booklet. Great idea.

I spend a delightful half-hour sitting on a tiny chair talking to the kids about their favourite TV programmes.

When I get home my wife tells me I've got orange paint on my elbow. It won't come out. What's worse, nothing rhymes with orange.

Toby Wood is a former primary head. He writes and performs poetry for adults and children

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