Thank God it's Friday;Diary

14th May 1999 at 01:00
THURSDAY It's the day before our annual weekend trip to London - five staff and 36 Year 8 and 9 pupils. We're feeling optimistic. The train tickets are booked, the museums are booked, the youth hostel's booked and work is set for the classes I won't be teaching tomorrow. Home to pack.

FRIDAY I leave home at 7am, driven to the station by a husband looking forward to a weekend's peace. Thirty-six excited pupils, 72 happy parents, siblings and four bleary staff greet me.

The adventure really begins at Euston as our "crocodile" of 41 winds its way to the Underground. Previously brave pupils hang on to teachers' jackets, overawed by the noise and crowds. We don't have this many people in our county!

We make our way to the Science Museum, where we spend two hours, before heading off to the youth hostel for dinner. Then it's back into London to see "Whistle Down the Wind".

We make it back to the hostel by midnight - after 41 orders of burgers and chips at McDonald's en route - send the pupils to bed and are settling down for a cup of tea when a pupil rushes into the kitchen: "Miss, Miss, Sue's trapped her thumb in the bedroom door and it's hanging off!" There's blood everywhere. We call a taxi and rush off to Guy's Hospital. An examination and X-ray confirm serious damage and we're transferred to St Thomas's. A plastic surgeon says he will operate later in the morning. I phone Sue's mum at 3.30am to tell her I've just signed the consent form. Sue is admitted to the children's ward and a colleague stays with her. I get back to the hostel at 4.45am and try to sleep.

SATURDAY Everyone except me goes off to the Imperial War Museum. I join them at lunchtime after trying to catch up on some sleep. Sue - complete with a large bandage and sling - meets us at the Trocadero centre in the evening.

SUNDAY We make it to Greenwich via the Docklands Light Railway and Thames Foot Tunnel and visit the arts and crafts market. Then it's a boat to the Thames Barrier and its exhibition, another boat back to Greenwich and then another to Charing Cross. Underground to Euston - and to Burger King. Our train gets us home by 11pm. We're all exhausted.

MONDAY A sleepy blur of a day, brightened by a thank-you card and present from Sue's grateful parents.

Gill Heels is assistant head of Dowdales Comprehensive School,Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria

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