Thank God it's Friday

11th October 1996 at 01:00
Monday: Now into the fifth week of my early retirement and the atmosphere at home is not all sweetness and light. My wife and daughter seeem to regard me with envy as they pack their bags for school.Ridiculous demands are made on me in relation to housework, cuisine, DIY and shopping.

But at 50 and after 28 years in the classroom I feel I've earned it and won't be ruled by guilt.

"If it doesn't feel good, don't do it" (Lennon circa 1970) Tuesday: This morning while walking the dog I spotted neat white mushroom heads spouting all over the meadow at the back of our house.

When I was a teacher I had to hurry past such marvels. Today I slice them neatly with my leaving present Swiss Army penknife (the cut-off point!), cram my pockets full and return to cook myself a very fine breakfast.

One repulsed daughter can't leave the house fast enough at the smell and sight of them.

"They slide down yer throat something lovely," I shout after her.

I go for a run, listen to Radio 4, read Bill Bryson, play some more old albums. Guilt never felt so good.

Wednesday: A nice letter from the head congratulating me on my excellent English result for my last academic year. It was a nice idea, but it reads like an obituary so I spring into action and paint the front porch.

My 11-year-old daughter comes home weary from another day at "big" school with a bagful of homework. "It's all right for you, Dad, you don't work anymore".

I'm stung by her words and hammer out a CV for primary schools where, at a pinch, I wouldn't mind doing some supply teaching.

Thursday: Today begins with noble resolve. I will complete the painting of the front porch and do the shopping, go into the bank and sort out the family finances. I repeat 100 times - "I am a house-husband".

Tony phones, suggesting a game of snooker tonight. I used to have to turn him down with "Sorry, too much marking" but now I can say "No problem". I whip him and sink two pints. So this is how decadence feels.

Friday: Call for help from a secondary schoool. The head of English has gone sick, please can I come in on emergency supply? Pound signs flash up in the eyes of my financially-challenged wife. Yes, of course I'll do it.

Lovely day in Filey school where the classrooms have views of the sea. Responsive, pleasant children and warm welcoming staff. What was that 1960s Billy Fury hit - "Like I've Never Been Gone".

Never mind Thank God it's Friday; more like, "God, is it Friday already?" Alan Combes took early retirement this summer from his post as Head of English at Pindar High School, Scarborough.

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