Thank God it's Friday

2nd May 1997 at 01:00
Sunday: My birthday party. M has been making cocktail snacks all day and has left herself with no time to plan tomorrow's Year 9 lesson.

By midnight things are getting a bit tense. We trawl my bookshelves for inspiration and party guests are encouraged to find "interesting words" which M scribbles down frantically in an exercise book.

Peter is offended because his suggestion of "turgid" is rejected and Erick demands a prize for "scintillating".

Monday: M phones this evening and with quiet pride I hear that the poetry writing lesson was a hit. Three of my words were chosen ("scanty", "sepulchre" and "breeze").

I offer her my opinions on Dracula as a possible media project; on alternatives to doughnuts as a mid-morning snack; on heads of department and their tendency towards passive aggression and whether Heathcliffe is, in fact, a devil.

Tuesday: The badly-funded arts organisation where I work supports the badly-funded education system employing M by doing some surreptitious photocopying in its lunch break.

Wednesday: A dangerous day to go round to M's house, as Yeats will inevitably rear his ugly head. He has been the bane of my life since Year 12 started studying him more than a month ago. I sip tea with one eye on E R and the other on the "Wild Swans at Coole". I wonder idly if M has any doughnuts left over.

Thursday: The badly-funded education sector supports the arts organisation in return. M has nobly arranged a trip for 40 students to see my company's production of Macbeth.

In recognition of the valuable ticket revenue I blackmail the actors into a post-show discussion. Samantha asks Macbeth where he got his leather trousers. Matthew asks Lady Macbeth if she fancies anyone in the company (a potentially dangerous topic). I move things swiftly on.

Meeting M's colleagues in the interval, conversation centres around whether the department could be run better by a doughnut, and Macbeth - is he, in fact, a devil?

Friday: I take the morning off work for some hands-on teacher's friend activity. I am cast in the role of A Visitor for a Year 8 PHSE lesson.

A charming young man greets me in the car park and asks my name, age and whether I like football. Someone else makes me a cup of tea and 30 young people fire questions at me about my hobbies. Suddenly I feel as if I have no hobbies.

The session goes well, but sadly my lack of football allegiance is a disappointment to many. Back home, M is pleased with her group but steaming about some fresh hell in the English faculty.

With my new-found expertise I suggest Dracula as head of department, doughnuts as a media project and Heathcliffe as a mid-morning snack. We abandon art and education and order a curry.

Louise Joseph is a theatre administrator and full-time teacher's friend living in south-east London

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