Thank God it's Friday;Talkback

12th June 1998 at 01:00
Monday: Am living in a state of suspended animation due to a pre-interview dinner with governors before shortlist, tomorrow, for headship. Nightmare multiplied by three today - who can I tell? Tonight - what do I wear? Tomorrow - what shall I say?

My Year 10 form look grumpy when told I'll be absent tomorrow. I'm clearly healthy, and since I keep urging them to give 100 per cent attendance in the run-up to their end of year exams, how dare I take the day off? Daren't admit the reason - some of them want me to teach them A-level in a couple of years. I flatter myself. In reality, if I left, I'd be missed, like most people, only as long as there was a space in the car park, ie about 10 minutes.

Depart for distant dinner at 3.30. Nothing gingers up the appetite like a 200-mile drive.

Dinner with all the governors is managed on a musical tables basis, so you just hope there's a chair at the final course on the final table. I'm suspicious of deep ulterior motives in the most innocent of chat lines, and dry completely in face of, "Tell us about yourself". Who me? You mean the real me? Aaah! Suppress mad impulse to point out that I'm at least three stone lighter than some of the candidates, which must mean I'm healthier, mustn't it?

Tuesday dawns with mother of all headaches, product of hotel disco-haunted sleepless night. Recall every word of complete Barry Manilow repertoire, and have doubts about my 10-minute presentation. In the event, both presentation and interview pass in blur (I lie, every detail is etched on my brain, but you don't want to hear it and it's too painful to recall.) Spend afternoon in supermarket car park, awaiting summons for public announcement of result. Tackle Year 10 papers in desultory way. Mark generously.

Back to base to be told X has the job - Congrats! Good choice! - and discover the truth in the footballers' jargon - "Gutted!" In pregnant silence after the announcement, another candidate utters four- letter word.

Home via airport to collect half my family, returning from a funeral. Reflect in the collective gloom that my whooping with glee would not be appropriate right now, so perhaps just as well my mood is also sombre.

Wednesday: Still gutted. Am reminded of vanity of human wishes and transience of all things by attending major memorial service for much-loved member of school community. Listen to catalogue of achievements and wonder what would be said of me should I die tomorrow. Salutary.

Thursday: Life goes on. Have been "bought" in charity "slave auction" by a form which may dictate what I wear for Home Clothes Day. Games kit, moi! Go the whole hog - trainers, shorts, ribald T-shirt, aggressive bandanna. Cause merriment at every encounter. Feel oddly liberated: can run around site and no one hears me coming. Being too breathless to speak when I get there is minor problem.

Friday: Leavers' service. Whole upper sixth, angelic as seldom before, pull out all the stops in readings and favourite hymns - not a dry eye in the house. In three years' time, I'm sure my Year 10s will be just as impressive, and at this rate I'll still be there to see them go.

Reach for TES. Still gutted, but still hoping.

* Sue Roberts is a deputy head, still aspiring to headship

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