Thank God it's Friday

6th June 1997 at 01:00
Monday: I'm with Year 6 for their annual week on the Isle of Wight. "Our loss is your gain," murmurs a weary mum as she hands her hyperactive youngest into my care, and there's an ironic cheer from a group of dads as the coach leaves.

Duncan has bagged a seat next to Sharon and soon we're in Portsmouth on HMS Warrior, a 19th century ironclad warship. Justin thinks it's the ferry and panics because he can't see his suitcase. Nautical yarns remind me of the bishop's visit last term. His cope and mitre really impressed the infants, and one asked me how long he'd been a pirate.

Tuesday: The boys took ages to settle down last night, but they still manage to wake me up three hours before breakfast. I tell them off and they're quiet again, but they've also woken the rooks in the trees outside. I can't shut them up and further sleep is impossible.

At Osborne House, Darren is fascinated by the horse and trap pulling visitors around the grounds. He's never seen a horse with blinkers before and thinks they're cool. "I like its shades," he says.

During a group nightcap, Duncan offers Sharon his biscuit and she lets him hold her hand. Is it for a bet? I'm not sure, but his street cred is established.

Wednesday: Today it's a long walk for everyone - so much more enjoyable than being shoe-horned into a classroom. Michelle and I chat about sports day as we follow the coast path. "I hope to do better in the relay this time," she says. "Last year I was illuminated."

At lunch-time we have ice-creams all round and I'm behind the counter helping the man with umpteen cornets. Seeing this, the children threaten to chant "Good mor-ning Mi-ster Whi-ppy" at next Monday's assembly.

Thursday: A visit to Carisbrooke Castle is followed by an afternoon rock-pooling on the beach. Brian ruefully sucks his forefinger after shaking off a large red-eyed devil crab and discovering that our warning about them was genuine.

During the evening the children write up their notes about Carisbrooke. Kelly has spelt it with a double r, so I suggest she crosses one out. There's a pause. "Which one?" she asks. Sharon keeps us all up late with her version of Romeo and Juliet, refusing to leave the patio until Duncan says he loves her. Duncan, though, is not her star-crossed lover. He has transferred his affections and another biscuit elsewhere.

Friday: We're on the hovercraft and speeding towards the mainland. "It doesn't take long to cross the Atlantic," Tracey observes. Duncan and Sharon sit apart on the coach. The finger marks on his face are as red as the sand at Alum Bay, and the romance is definitely over.

Luke Darlington is headteacher of St Mary's CE primary school, Yate, Bristol

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