Thank God it's Friday

26th September 2003 at 01:00
Monday Start of a new term. It's good to see colleagues again; we spend a happy few minutes comparing notes on how badly we slept last night. "I've been awake since five." "Five? You're lucky - I woke up at quarter past three." "Well, I don't think I slept at all." A winner. End of discussion.

Tuesday Training day in the hall. The canteen now has an automated metal door that whirrs up and down at inopportune moments; we cope until a colleague says it reminds him of the door in a crematorium. Concentrating on learning styles suddenly becomes more challenging. The day ends with a plenary session, during which men arrive to glue down the new canteen floor; the fumes spread and our lips go numb.

Wednesday The children arrive, most looking happy to be back. I glance out of the window and see a group of Year 12 students racing around the school, shrieking. "What do you think you're doing?" I bellow at them. "We're playing hide and seek with our form tutor, Miss." I have no answer, and feel my tenuous grip on reality beginning to slip.

Thursday Duty day, and I amuse myself by working out which year group the children belong to. Tie done up, shirt tucked in, clean shoes, huge bag - a new Year 9. Tie knot one inch down, top button undone, shirt out, killer heels or trainers, small bag (as books, pens, and paper are such a nuisance) - Year 10. Year 11 are recognisable only in the distance; unburdened by equipment, and cigarette smoke rising from behind their backs, they wave to me with their free hand .

Friday I have three bottom sets today - definitely the prickly end of the pineapple - which suggests that I've upset the timetabler or done something bad in a former life.

The writer teaches modern languages at a Worcestershire comprehensive. She wants to remain anonymous

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