Thank God it's Friday

29th March 1996 at 00:00
Monday: I am admonishing my 12-year-old for his forgetfulness. Last week he lost his boots; today he has forgotten an important form. His head is full of football, "Warhammer" and The Fast Show. I am trying to impress on him that he has to concentrate on the practical side of life. As my usual rantings have fallen on deaf ears I am going for a more considered "cause and effect" scenario to emphasise the ramifications of his actions. I can see that my new approach is working as he looks dolefully at me and nods in agreement.

There's a moment's silence before he says: "Can I ask you something?" "Of course," I say, congratulating myself on my parenting skills. "Should I have Teddy Sheringham or Peter Beardsley as captain in my fantasy football team?"

Tuesday: I am writing a proposal for television on "famous Scots". I delve deep into my memories of history lessons as a child at school in Scotland. .. David Livingstone, Alexander Graham Bell, Robert Burns. All men. I decide that it will be "famous Scottish women" and am soon reading of Scottish suffragettes, Flora Macdonald and pioneering medical women. Not for the first time I feel a wave of nostalgia, and wonder if we would not be better off living and educating our children in Scotland. I collect my six-year-old daughter from school. She enthuses about her day and I feel relief - for this year anyway.

Wednesday: I hear of the tragedy in Dunblane on the car radio. My husband calls on my mobile phone; he has just heard the news too. He knows the town and is deeply shocked. Cars pass by, people walk on the street and I want to shout: "Haven't you heard what's happened?" After school I tell my children as best I can before they hear it on television. My daughter makes a card to send to the school and says, "Try not to think about it, Mummy." Later I hear my son crying in his room and as I comfort him I wonder how on earth brothers and sisters in Dunblane can be comforted tonight.

Thursday: I take my daughter to school and hug her tighter as I leave; the other parents seem to be doing the same. At home, the phone never stops with calls from Scotland. Although not directly involved, the tragedy seems to have had an effect on so many people. I hear the headteacher of the school on the radio and am amazed by his strength and courage. In this age of accountability we are, as parents, often quick to criticise teachers. But listening to the head of Dunblane I feel only gratitude that people like him are prepared to educate and care for my children.

Friday: I have a lot of work to catch up on today but manage to get through the bulk of it before I pick up the children from school. It's a lovely day and they want to go to the park but I won't catch the last post if I linger. "Please Mum," they entreat, "we haven't been there for ages, we could have an ice-cream!" "I'll take you there tomorrow; it's cold today," I try to bargain. "It might be raining tomorrow," my daughter says.

I catch sight of their faces. "You're quite right," I say. "Let's go now. " For who knows what might happen tomorrow?

Dorothy Stiven is a broadcaster, writer and parent who lives in the London borough of Brent.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today