Thank God It's Friday

Tony Scully

Monday: Today is the start of my wife's annual outward bound trip with Year 6. "Someone is bound to forget their gloves," she cries as she packs our own stock of mittens, scarves and hats. "They always do."

The last thing loaded into our car is a mysterious box labelled "staff supplies". Does it contain a week's supply of valium, cabernet sauvignon or perhaps handcuffs for the most reluctant sleepers?

My wife hands me a list of "things to do" while she is gone. Our own two boys wave her off."Don't worry Mum, we'll look after Dad."

Tuesday: I wake to find that an arctic blizzard has descended in the night. First thoughts are for my poor darling wife stranded in the Yorkshire Dales with 30 over-active 11-year-olds. My concern lasts about as long as it takes to discover there are no gloves, scarves or hats left in this house.

I'm distracted by the list and the next hour passes in a hectic blur as I load the washing machine, iron two shirts, check that the boys have bus fares and dinner money, and dig the car out. I write on my hand that I have to visit the bank and post Uncle George's birthday card. I'm too harassed to notice the frostbite as I scrape the windscreen with a fish slice.

Wednesday: The boys and I now have our routines firmly established. The alarm wakes me at dawn; I toil through the list and then wake them for school at seven. They seem remarkably chirpy. I'll be home late tonight so they've got a choice of lasagna or beans on toast. The beans win. Not on nutritional grounds - the lasagna dish is much harder to wash up than a saucepan.

I'm looking forward to a theatre visit with my sixth form students. For once it is a purely social affair - Five Guys Named Moe isn't on any syllabus that I'm aware of. The students revel in the audience participation and I love the music.

Later, back home, I'm doing the conga down our hallway when I am brought to a sudden halt: a yellow Post-it sticker on the living room door reads: "Dear Dad, Mum is upstairs in bed with a broken ankle, Love Vincent."

I suspect a wind up, but when I see a similar note stuck to the lavatory door I dash to the bedroom. And there she is, resplendent in her plaster cast. "What have you done?" "Broken my ankle, and you aren't going to believe this. " It's 3am before she's finished telling the saga.

Thursday: Breakfast is a rather dim affair, I can't seem to open my eyes properly. Vincent isn't feeling too well - he should have had my lasagna - so I leave him to "look after Mum". Propped up in bed she's armed with a flask of coffee, portable television and bleeper, a new paperback I was going to read, and a supply of painkillers. I've moved the telephone extension so she can spend all day calling relatives and friends with her bizarre story.

Not only did she break her ankle doing something totally innocuous - she slipped on some ice while fastening a child's bag - but on the other side of the mountain another teacher from her school broke his ankle too. It wasn't until they met in Casualty that they realised what had happened - causing peals of hysterical laughter. The story takes on a more mysterious flavour when you compare the accident details. The times are identical: 1pm; the fractures are the same: just above the ankle bone; and the date? The 13th.

Friday: I spend most of the morning at the fracture clinic where my wife and her colleague have returned to have new "pots" put on their ankles, now that the swellings have gone down. We resolve to make future appointments at the same time followed by little "outings".

Today we arrange to meet back at school to greet the children on their return. When the coach pulls up there's heart-warming mutual applause. A girl called Tara runs over and gives my wife a big hug.

Photographs of the pots are taken and signatures attempted - the new fibreglass ones are difficult to write on except in wax-crayon - please note NHS. My wife is to have six to eight weeks of complete bed rest with her foot elevated at all times. I suspect there will be eight weeks of lists. Now what did I do with that other one?

Tony Scully is a teacher of English in Keighley. His wife Ann is deputy head of the Holy Family RC primary school, Leeds

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Tony Scully

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