Thank God it's Friday

7th January 2005 at 00:00
Monday I'm too ill to go to work. My throat is on fire and my head throbs.

I curl up in a tight ball under the covers and try not to think about what I should be doing. I sleep until 3pm, then crawl out of bed. You know you are ill when you open a tin of tomato soup and watch daytime TV.

Tuesday The headache has gone so I risk work. It's Christmas dinner day.

Danielle is promised 20 team points if she eats a sprout. She manages it with a huge effort but refuses to go for 50 points by eating another. The staff line up to serve the children, singing "I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day". I love it, but my head is throbbing again.

Wednesday Now my voice has gone and my chest is tightening. It is a cold but bright day as the whole school walks to church to practise the Christmas service. We have already completed a full and comprehensive risk assessment, but did not account for a child picking up something green and white from the pavement and putting it in his mouth. It could have been a sweet; it could have been a tablet. He speaks little English, and no one saw him spit it out. A trip to the hospital is arranged. Perhaps they could give me some antibiotics.

Thursday My voice is strained and I am coughing badly. In the afternoon, four children join me for the end-of-term "good manners" tea party. We have tea in cups and Mr Kipling's fancy cakes. We discuss Christmas day, and Meen Yee tells us about her Chinese lunch. And no, she doesn't eat sprouts.

The other children look envious.

Friday My voice sounds as if it is being transmitted from outer space. We walk to church for our service, keeping a close eye on the pavements. I have a radio microphone to give my welcome to the congregation. The service is beautiful and we all sing with enthusiasm. Afterwards the children tell me they could hear me croaking my way through "O Little Town of Bethlehem".

The technician had forgotten to switch the mic off. I am mortified and the staff are highly amused. I can't wait to go home for a brandy.

Val Woollven is head of St Andrew's CE primary school, Plymouth

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