Thank God It's Friday
"Sehr gut," he announces at length, displaying considerable linguistic dexterity, and I know at once that my position is secure. I feel confident enough to speak to the 30 pairs of Year 11 parents he has kindly lined up in the dining hall for me.
Tuesday:"Coffee in my room after school please." It sounds ominous but there is a smile on his face and the promise of lemon drizzle cake to come.
"Cake?" I ask, "on a Tuesday?" His reply demonstrates an appalling lack of confidence in me.
"I was worried you might forget yesterday, so I bought one just in case. "
Oh ye of little faith! One look at my waistline should have reassured him. "Es schmeckt gut," I venture.
"You should check the gender of cake," he suggests.
Wednesday: No cake, but today is a "jam" day when I am allowed to taste a dish rarely set before a newly qualified teacher: a Top Set. I am reminded of the caviar served up in huge dollops on board the Russian ships I once visited, and the long periods of deprivation between visits.
"Enjoy!" a heavily accented voice urges. And I swallow greedily, but all too soon I am back on dry land, subsisting on baked beans.
Thursday: I naively assume that "lunchtime meeting" means "after lunch" rather than "instead of". I struggle with a long-dead French stick, staring uneasily at the school rule about not eating in the classrooms, while others wrestle with the curriculum. I seem to remember contributing something in between bites, but how the spluttered mouthful will appear on the minutes is anyone's guess.
Friday: I'm lost, somewhere near London, desperately searching for a training centre. A young policeman appears from nowhere but before I can speak, he offers some friendly advice. "Oi. No parkin' mate."
"I'm lost," I plead, waving the A-Z in my left hand. "I said you can't stop here mate, so shift it."
"Take his number," the teacher inside me urges. But then I remember how I felt when I'd come to the end of a night-shift in a previous existence, when your sights are set on the canteen's early morning greasy breakfast.
But oh joy! The well-hidden training place doubles up as a catering college. I imagine a long banquet table, groaning with goodies.
"Oi, one biscuit only," says the student chef at morning coffee. I wonder if he has a brother on the beat in the Met.
Stephen Spencer is a mature newly qualified teacher. Formerly an immigration officer, part-time soldier and Alfred Marks temp, he now teaches French and German at The Ramsey School, Halstead, Essex