Thank God it's Friday

10th March 2006 at 00:00
Monday All primary school staffrooms have certain things in common. Here on the coffee table is a pile of books: cookery, royalty, fashion... the kind of books that a Victorian critic once called biblia abiblia. Books that are not books. A teacher comes in at coffee time. "Nobody's birthday today? I'm starving. There must be some biscuits somewhere." Then, voice dripping with disappointment. "Only Rich Tea." She eats four. That's another staffroom ever-present: the need for something sweet at breaktime. Food that is not food.

Tuesday Better luck today. There is a box of Turkish delight already open.

Two portly men, under the influence of the white witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, absent-mindedly eat four pieces each as they talk about football. Someone is telling a story. "My mum said, 'Try that pate in the fridge, it's so smooth'. I tried it, and said, 'Mum, it's not smooth, it's chunkyI'" She'd eaten the Pedigree Chum. "What did it taste like?" I ask. "It was good," she says, laughing.

Wednesday I sit eating with a group of Year 6s at lunchtime. April says to us all, apropos of nothing, "I didn't have breakfast today. I had a hangover." I look at her for traces of red eyes, paleness, guilt, all the things I associate with over-indulgence. But, thank goodness, there are none. "A hangover?" I inquire. "Yes," says April. "The alarm rang, but I turned it off and went back to sleep."

Thursday Today something happens to me that never in all my 40 years'

teaching, blah blah blah. A nine-year-old boy isn't writing. "Are you going to make a start?" I ask. "Fuck off," he says. There follow about 20 apologies from the boy, including one said with an expression and intonation that means, "All right, you old fool! Will that do?" An apology that isn't an apology.

Friday I'm in one of the schools where no one talks to me. I've sucked everything out of The Guardian by the end of coffee time. I'm contemplating reading the share listings and am reduced to leafing through one of the biblia abiblia. It's about royalty on horseback. Apparently, dressage originates from the methods used by horsemen in battle to make their horses trample their enemy to death. Well, useful to get that learnt. Around me, a custard cream and jammy dodger orgy is underway.

Fred Sedgwick Fred Sedgwick is a travelling poet. His latest book is How to Teach with a Hangover (Continuum). If you have a diary to share (no more than 450 words), write to TES Friday, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX or email friday@tes.co.uk. We pay for every article we publish

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