Thank God It's Friday

22nd March 1996 at 00:00
Monday: It's a tearful breakfast. This is the last time we'll eat together in the old heart of our home the kitchen which has served us well for almost 18 years. I'm sentimental about the smallest of possessions so tea and toast this morning is richly flavoured with nostalgia. I scribble my last "To Do" list on the wobbly old counter and leave my husband and the army of workmen to it.

By 7pm I seem to have accomplished about as much on my list as the workmen have on theirs. Clearing my desk, for instance, begins with removing all that's on it ditto workmen, who have taken the sledgehammer approach to our cupboards and walls and then stopped.

They have the satisfaction of knowing it's all going in the skip blocking our drive, while I spend half the day putting back the vital bits of paper. There's more staying than going but insecurity is setting in will I be able to find anything in either of my lives?

Tonight I do the marking on my lap.

Tuesday: My classes are bemused by the dust and crumbs of plaster which fall from their marked essays. Girls looking for lost property get an unusually sympathetic response from me today. I'm even losing my grip on the whereabouts of staff, but for that I can blame the numerous information days with exam boards on new syllabuses for next year.

At home, we've lost both water and power it's fun eating out but that means losing valuable marking and reading time.

Wednesday: I consider the value of effective oral training when we phone the manufacturers of our kitchen cupboards with a complaint; a voice says, "What do you want me to do about it, then?" My husband loses his cool, the company loses goodwill and we sincerely hope that the voice loses his job. His company would probably blame his school for not preparing him properly for work. I'd say their in-service training was seriously at fault.

I complete an application for my own further training an MSc in Leeds. It's not exactly on Monmouth's doorstep and I could lose my way getting there. I reflect that without the course, I could be even more lost.

Thursday: I find time to escort the public speaking team to a local competition. We return with one trophy and some big lessons learned. What you say matters less than how you say it, and bending the truth can be effective. I seriously consider that half the value of studying Julius Caesar is to watch Mark Antony's manipulation of the crowd in his speech over Caesar's body. I hope this point isn't lost on my Year 9s.

Friday: I still can't find the cornflakes, but the improved kitchen is taking shape. The new fridge is as big as a wardrobe and the oven doors are mercilessly reflective. Maybe clearing my desk in the same week was over ambitious. The trick is not to expect to finish neatly not today, not any week, not any term. Before I leave the office I transfer the end of this week's "To Do" list to the start of next week's. Back home, the kitchen fitters do the same.

Hilary Moriarty is deputy head of Red Maids School, Bristol

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