WHEN I was in kindergarten Miss Ash seemed to me a goddess. I can still remember the sound of her bicycle bell and heady smell of her handcream as she demonstrated the mysteries of creating a Father's Day bookmark out of two simple pieces of coloured felt.
Never since have I been so much in awe of another human being. And I absolutely refused to believe the headmaster's son, Carlton, who insisted Miss Ash had a Christian name and even a boyfriend. Miss was above such things.
Unfortunately it seems that I am in something of a minority here. Speculating on the sex lives of teachers has always been one of the prime topics of conversation between my two daughters. The fact that Mrs Blowsy goes all giggly when the groundsman wipes the sweat from his brow or that Miss Leotard was picked up from school today by YET ANOTHER New Man can occupy the entire journey home.
Yet when I was Sarah's age such gossip would have been beyond me. Maybe this was because I went to an all-male school and it is rare for lads to fantasise about a 55-year-old moped-driving chemistry master.
Which is not to say that Carlton and Big Jeremy Gonzales didn't spend cricket practice speculating about the French assistante. As the only female in our 600-strong school La Vitesse was rumoured to have "done it" with absolutely every member of staff, even the bicycle and moped brigade.
Women were like that, Big Jeremy insisted. Or so we hoped. The last thing any of us wanted to believe was that girls exercised discrimation. If that were so then none of us stood a chance.
Maybe it was because my father was a teacher that I refused to believe in the sexuality of his profession. After all no one wants to speculate about their parents making love but for most children these days teachers seem to be fair game in the fantasy stakes. Which is why my poor friend Rosie has to travel out of county for candlelit dinners with her Mr Wonderful and why teachers need cars. Our local comp has a wide catchment area.
All Miss Ash had to do in order to draw a discrete veil over what she got up to whenthe Fuzzy Felt was put away was hop on her bike. Nowadays teachers have to seriously burn up the rubber.