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Too right, it's all a bit mad

oing my end-of-session office refurbishment (filling the black bin bags? Ed), it occurred to me that I should create a new poster for the wall. This one will feature Dougal, from the much missed comedy show Father Ted, and will have his stock phrase, "it's all a bit mad, Ted".

The reasoning behind this is that it is only when the holidays come that you realise how crazy things can become in the job we call teaching.

Educating teenagers isn't the half of it. On the last Wednesday of term, around 5.30pm, I sat back and looked at my desk as my PC performed its daily huff in telling me exactly why it couldn't possibly obey my command to shut down.

Those of you who follow this column will know that my desk is generally not a pretty sight, and indeed was highly commended this year at the Office World awards in the sector "For services to the shredding industry".

However, on that June afternoon, even I was forced to admit that the vista before me was a little bizarre. Apart from precariously piled papers, there were three half-empty cups of coffee, a minimally nibbled snowball (of the confectionery type) and a plastic bag containing six sticks of celery.

The last two items were courtesy of the school kitchen staff, who were busy making full use of all they had before the summer break. Knowing celery consumes more calories in the eating than it bestows, they had, irrationally, decided I might be in need of it.

The snowballs were a rare and non-healthy eating treat for staff and pupils. It was half-eaten and the coffees half-drunk because of what deputes tend to call "the day I've had".

Apart from the usual end-of-term pressures, I had received a call from a neighbouring school about a pupil who had attended a number of classes in their school the week before, giving a false name, and had disappeared before anyone could investigate. They gave a description and wondered if he might be one of ours.

One thing led to another and I eventually spotted him in our atrium. It turned out not to be a Brandon Lee scenario but, nevertheless, something that had to be sorted, and a highly unusual event. My sleuthing had taken time but I was delighted to get a result, and the neighbouring depute was greatly impressed. However, I was a bit miffed that she chose to compare me not to Bergerac or Lynley but to Clouseau.

Mind you, looking at the mugs, the snowball and the celery, maybe she had a point.

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