We've all got a goal in life

16th April 2004 at 01:00
It was, my son assured me, the best week of his life. He had been present at Hampden when his team, Livingston, beat Hibs to win the CIS Cup. (Sorry, Sean McPartlin. This must still hurt.) Not only that, a single he liked topped the charts and there were two occasions when he wasn't given homework.

I watched the second half of the Livingston game on television myself, though I missed both goals. Never turn off the set when the pundits suggest that your team are on the back foot.

The first half I missed in its entirety, having been on an unsuccessful attempt to get up Tinto Hill in under 45 minutes. This is a target I set myself at the beginning of the year. At that time I could do it in 55. Some of my colleagues can do it in 30.

Having no chance of beating their times in the near future, I decided to compete against myself. Spot the formative assessment fan.

On the Saturday of the last week of term I did it in 44 minutes. Standing, glowing on the summit . . . scrub that . . . sitting, peching on the summit, I could see the three towns where I have taught. One school I left 20 years ago. Another saw the back of me in the closing days of 1997.

Seconded at the beginning of this year but unable to take up the post for more than a day and a half a week, I had just learnt that I would be temporarily stepping out of the third school full-time, to begin six days after my triumphant ascent.

Everybody should leave a school at least once. It has all the fun of being at your own funeral without the disadvantage of being dead.

Back at base camp, on my last day before departure, I was treated to a nice speech and a book token in the staffroom. One by one I said au revoir, as opposed to goodbye, to my classes. It was just before lunch that I won my own CIS cup.

The class was composed of members of an uncharacteristically awkward year group. One or two of them had been "seconded" themselves a couple of times, though I seemed to have been lucky with the particular mix of pupils assigned to me and had enjoyed teaching them.

Just as the bell rang, the most notorious of the group reached into his jacket pocket. "We got you a card," he said. It was signed by the whole crew. As they filed out of the room we exchanged good wishes.

Looking back, it maybe wasn't the best week of my life, but it was pretty darned good.

Gregor Steele doesn't know whether to spend his book token on some worthy Scots literature or another brainless detective story.

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