Thank God it's Friday

7th September 2001 at 01:00
Monday I've decided to spend the first few days of the holidays at work. I love school when it's quiet. The phone rings - how do they know I'm here? It's a foster parent, letting me know that the child who ran away from school on the last day is safe, well and back in care. That's a relief.

Tuesday The sun is shining and the open-topped bus passes with its sunburnt passengers. I'm sorting out my governors' files when the doorbell rings - how do they know I'm here? It's a stranger wearing a sun hat - and camera. In halting English he tells me that he is a concert pianist on holiday in Plymouth. He would like to play a piano to keep his hand, head and heart in practice. Could he borrow my piano? I hesitate, but it's such a strange request that I can't refuse. He plays the piano for three hours without a break. The sound is exquisite and I file away happily. When he leaves, he tells me that the piano is very thorough and sincere. He can feel the joy of the children as he plays. I thank him for the free concert and he slips away.

Wednesday The doorbell rings - is it the phantom piano player? No, it's the former deputy head who left for Cyprus in January. He's back for a brief holiday. He knew I'd be here, sad woman that I am.

Thursday The dustbins should have been emptied yesterday but the pile of rubbish has not been touched.The sacks are beginning to steam as the sun beats down. I phone the refuse department. If I fax them a memo and a payment code, they'll clear the rubbish before the seagulls do. I know how to use the fax machine but I can't manage a code. Not to worry, I can pay in September. How kind.

Friday I wasn't going to come in today but I forgot to lock the office cupboard yesterday. A voice greets me as I check the plants one last time. It's Arron's grandfather - he thought he'd find me here. He would like to clear the pond in the environmental area. Am I stopping long? ActuallyI I was going to do some filing. Would a couple of hours be enough?

Val Woollven is head of St Andrew's C of E school, Plymouth. (See Snapshots, page 30)

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