Bill Hicks

Bill Hicks finds Smokey Sue awaiting a buyer in the TES Marketplace

A recurrent difficulty in writing this column is deciding which of dozens of competing threads to concentrate on.

Each week, there's a healthy crop of topics to choose from. All online life is here, in all its glory and, it must be said, all its squalor. This week the job was even harder than usual. Normally, we're trawling deep for the tastiest material, which tends to lurk under the rocks, hiding from the light. This week, the great threads were leaping out of the ocean and flinging themselves into our arms, one after another, like big, fat, succulent tuna fish.

A creature of habit, I peeked into Marketplace on my way to the Opinion forum. Every so often this forum transcends its utilitarian purpose, to dish up some irresistibly weird offering. Today, it did not disappoint.

There, winking at me at the top of the page was the topic, "Smoking Doll!"

It turned out that peatles, a science co-ordinator in a primary school, had discovered said nicotiniac mannequin in a store: "Never been used and quite freaky if I am honest! It is a doll's head on a stand, place a cigarette in its mouth and collect the gunk in a test tube to show what would go into the lungs... anyone interested please get in touch."

Jennyinthepink was interested: "I know my school was planning on getting one to use for PSHE. How much are they?"

Peatles reckoned "about pound;80". Rfh12002 added that the doll's name was "Smokey Sue", then Comfychair confirmed that she was still available, brand new, for pound;89.95.

So if you move swiftly, you might land yourself a bargain.

Enough! I must move on to Opinion, to the thread that topped our own popularity chart last week. It started when Chezza popped the question, "Who's the most bizarre member of staff you have ever worked with?"

Fearing a deluge of libellous anecdotes, I read on. Actually, it was good stuff, and then I hit post 17 and like the rest of you was transfixed, as Selwyn related a tale worthy of Chaucer. With that fine poster's permission, I will quote as much as space permits: "Member of staff who became obsessed with getting to the bog before a colleague who always made the most astonishing stink in there - I think his diet consisted of cabbages, broccoli, peas, beans, Newcastle Brown and Gauloises. Whatever, if you went to the bog after this bloke you could taste the smell... Small school, one gents' WC only, no stalls.

"This developed into a race at lunchtime... the smelly one used to dismiss his class a minute early, grab his newspaper, run to the netty and ensconce himself. Obsessive one would try to beat him, fail four days out of five, and then stand outside, occasionally rapping on door and then make exaggerated swooning motions when the door opened and the colleague (and the pong) emerged.

"One day, obsessive colleague arrived just too late to get in first, found netty door locked, snapped, raced into staffroom, picked up loaded starting pistol for afternoon sports day, went back to netty and fired the whole magazine at the bog door.

"Shocked silence, reek of cordite. Toilet door opens, headmaster emerges: 'Mr Smith, would you mind telling meI?'"

You want more? There is lots more - log on, read, contribute. As for me, my faith in the forums restored, I'm off to fry some fish.

Follow these threads at www.tes.co.ukstaffroom

* Opinion: "I won't be coming in today, I've got flu"

* MFL: Mandarin: a flash in the pan? Discuss

* Student teachers: Tomato head

* Behaviour: Music to calm children in the morning

* School managers: Sacked for resigning Bill Hicks is editor of the TES website

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Bill Hicks

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