Thank God it's Friday

27th June 1997 at 01:00
MONDAY: I should have known. The promises my husband made when he retired last July have disappeared out of the window.

"Think of it as a charter," he'd said when we discussed his impending move. "You'll be at school, and I'll be at home. Your needs must always come first." I remember beaming and, foolishly, believing him.

"You'll be teaching and it will be my job to support and prop you up. You'll be pampered and spoilt. You're going to have your very own Working Wife's Charter."

He's doing supply work full-time now, and what started in a small way has become a five-day week, Year 4 class all this summer term.

So, goodbye charter.

He comes home gobsmacked this evening having explained to the class that he used to be a headteacher. "I thought they'd be awestruck, but all one of them said was 'So now you've got a proper job then?' " TUESDAY: Gone are the days when I came home to a casserole or a roast, a vacuumed house, a dusted sideboard and flowers on the table.

Now it's, "Fish and chips all right tonight, dear?" I give him a withering look which clearly sinks home. "But," he replies crestfallen, "I've books to mark, tomorrow to plan, an assembly to do, and then there's things like record books, trips, sports days, the summer concert. I hear readers at lunchtime and learn LOGO at hometime . . . I'm knackered."

"Well," I say, "now you've got a proper job, it serves you right."

WEDNESDAY: Both of us have joined a fitness club. It's one of those smart little places with a swimming pool and gym. Part of the membership involves undergoing a fitness assessment with one of the trainers. My husband has his tonight (and we did not have fish and chips).

He's begun to wonder if you need to be fitter to be a classroom teacher than a headteacher. The club seems to consist of stressed teachers seeking sanctuary and retired teachers who are unstressed.

His assessment goes well except for two things. First, he was asked about his "peak flow factor". For a former headteacher he is remarkably naive and thought it meant how fast could he pee, until the trainer explained it was how hard could he blow down a tube. He was also less than pleased because the trainer began every sentence with, "Well, for your age . . ."

THURSDAY: "How can that man say my blood pressure is normal and heart rate OK?" says my indignant husband when he arrives home tonight past five o'clock. "I want my money back! Just look at this bloody lot."

He plonks two bulging carrier bags on the dining room table and pours himself a huge sherry. "This is maths marking and this is English. And I suppose I've still got potatoes to peel, and the dishwasher to unload from this morning. "

I am tempted to remind him of the Working Wife's Charter and his promises to pamper me. "It looks like rain," I remark, "so getting the washing in is more important."

FRIDAY: I had a lovely day with my reception class today. I always do, listening and talking to little angels like Asif who listhps a lot and always calls me Mithy Tomath. My other half must have had a stinker.

"God," he exclaims, slumping into an armchair. "Technology this morning - sawing and hammering, God, the noise - and double games this afternoon. I'm too old for this."

I look at him and almost feel sorry. "So do you think you'd rather be a head?" "On balance . . . on balance . . . I think . . ."

His sentence remains unfinished. Within seconds, he's fast asleep clutching yet another big bag of marking.

Harriet Thomas is a reception class teacher and music co-ordinator at Brudenell primary school, Leeds

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