To prevent the playground from becoming a war zone, lunchtimes have been shortened. They are now measured in nanoseconds, most of which I’ve used up hunting down the box of caps (flat and mop) I need to re-enact life in a Victorian classroom.
Now, the infinitesimal moment in time I have to eat my cheese and pickle sandwich is being threatened by accessibility issues.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away from reality, someone decided to make our staffroom less vulnerable to wandering children and assertive parents.
“Inclusivity is a fine thing,” they said, “but we live in a litigious age where careless talk can cost careers. Everyone knows that Mrs Acerbic’s threat to bludgeon Damian to death with his own lightsabre was nothing more than an instinctive response to one Jedi attack too many, but you can’t be too careful.”
Our staffroom door now only opens when you key in the secret code. And because it is a mathematical truth that in the digital age there are more access codes than there are atoms in the universe, I’ve been forced to write all my school ones – computer login, class register login, library access PIN, photocopier account number, school email password and our new staffroom door code – in the back of my diary.
Because my diary currently resides on the other side of the staffroom door, I usually mouth through the window for someone to let me in. But today is Friday and my colleagues – filled with the joys of the impending weekend – are being deliberately unhelpful. They reply to my increasingly desperate gesticulations with annoyingly flippant ones.
As a failsafe for those of us with malfunctioning memory systems and slow processing speeds, someone in the school security service decided that the secret code would coincide with a highly significant historical date. The problem is, I can’t remember which one.
In chronological order, I try the Magna Carta, the Great Plague, the Great Fire of London, England’s football World Cup triumph, the first Moon landing…
Just as I run out of ideas, one of our young teachers takes pity on me. Unfortunately, she is intercepted halfway to the door by a dark and brooding presence.
Mrs Rottweiler is neither young nor susceptible to pity. She also has several old scores to settle.
As the last of my lunchtime disappears, in the time it takes light to travel 29.98 centimetres, I become aware of the irony of my situation. I am condemned to starve to death in true Victorian fashion by the digital indifference of the age of technology.
Then, just when all hope is disappearing, I hear the distinctive hum of a plasma-energy sword proceeding along the corridor. It rises in pitch several times before crackling as it makes contact with the imaginary weapon of an imaginary Sith Warrior.
“Have you forgotten the top-secret code to get into the staffroom, Mr Eddison?” asks Damian. I nod weakly and he whispers, “It’s one, zero, six, six.”
“Of course, the Battle of Hastings,” I reply. “Thanks, Damian. By the way, may I borrow your lightsabre for a moment?’ Steve Eddison teaches at Arbourthorne Community Primary School in Sheffield