Thank God it's Friday

22nd December 2000 at 00:00
Monday To a man who cannot swim, a bath is much the same as the Atlantic. Thus it is to a hackneyed English teacher, given the unenviable task of staging the Christmas play. The job is, in essence, simple, but that is what they said about The Dome.

Take 40 or so of the more variable brethren who avoid most physical activities (due largely to laziness, physical ineptitude or ingrowing toenails), add a sprinkling of fey, arty types who have bourgeois ambitions in the arts and throw in a couple of dyslexic psychos who no one else wants around because they are too dangerous or too weird. Then mould them into a smoothly functioning team of responsible professionals. In a week. And then put them in front of 1,000 parents and make them the public face of the school.

Tuesday Artistically, the ground you cover is not important as long as you haven't chosen "Hair", from the Seventies. But you can always do without the English department's closet playwright's attempt at a modern reworking of "Cinderella". His stab at putting some modern irony into it by calling the Ugly Sisters Woodhead and Blunkett will fly over the children's heads. And when will teachers realise that however much they think of themselves as bright young things, to the pupils we are just sad old folks with no idea of what goes on? So I'll have to ask him to cut out all the references that are meant to make us look trendy but just show how out of date we are.

Wednesday As always, a school production will work only if the teachers ake prats of themselves. In our case, it's for a big dance number that happens at the masked ball. It's not exactly an MGM classic, but we're proud of our efforts. However, the main star, Mr Chick - or Twinkle-toes Chickie, to give him his stage name - turns his ankle while attempting a paso doble as the final pi ce de resistance. Everyone looks around worried now that our star is injured, but Mr Chick's last words as he is carried off give us hope. "The show must go on, darlings. The show must go on."

Thursday A final dress rehearsal, although this description implies a far more professional performance than the shambles before my eyes. The only saving grace is that Will, our resident psycho, has suddenly fallen for our Cinderella and is now acting his socks off in a bid to impress her. But even that goes to pot as everyone has told him he will have to wear tights to play Prince Charming.

Friday The big day. As always, Mr Jones hams it up as Widow Twankey. The way he enjoys being in a dress must be worrying to his girlfriend, a woman from the PE department who's not seen this side of him. As I watch, I start to believe Scrooge had the right idea about Christmas. My only pleasure comes from watching senior management's attempt to enjoy themselves while thinking how they can get the chairs put away before assembly. But I earn Brownie points for using the lower fifth as a forest - so keeping them busy for the entire last day of term.

Mark Finnemore teaches in New Malden, Surrey

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