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SATS, Drugs and Rock `n` Roll - Chapter 13: A Bad Start to the New Term

by  flock1

Posted: Wednesday, September 6, 2006
Word Count: 1448

Chapter 13 - A Bad Start to the New Term

The summer holidays had been a godsend. Working fifty-five hour weeks had really taken it out of me. But now we were back to the grindstone.
“Bloody kids,” said Helen Higson as she wandered over to the staffroom kettle at playtime. Aged twenty-five and Newly Qualified, she was finding her class difficult.
“Oliver’s the worst” she continued. “He tried to kick me just before playtime. I had to restrain him. Little bugger!” She turned around to face me and Lorraine Raymond. The secretary said nothing. I smiled. “It does get easier,” I offered.
At lunchtime, I was alone in the staffroom eating my sandwiches. Helen Higson entered and I asked her how her class had been.
“Better,” she conceded. Suddenly, though, the door flung open. Barbara Cane entered, eyes swivelling upon Helen. She looked almost menacing.
“If you need to use foul language about the children in your class,” she said sharply. “Then I suggest you reconsider your career. Maybe the children deserve someone better.” Barbara Cane turned heels and left.
The whole exchange had taken less than five seconds. Shell-shocked, Helen burst into tears. I sat stunned. What was all that about? What was Barbara’s problem?

Dean Cook, one of the boys in my class, came inside looking sad. It was a few days after Barbara Cane’s outburst in the staffroom. Since then, neither I nor Helen had actually spoken to the Head. She was keeping herself busy inside her office, which was fine by us.
Dean Cook was a small boy with a round face. Though not the brightest in Year 3, he was generally a cheerful enough lad. As he joined the rest of the class on the carpet, I asked him what was wrong.
“Nowt,” he said, looking down. He started fiddling with his laces. I asked again, but he shook his head. Deciding to leave things alone for the time being, I started my English lesson. Later, as the children were writing about their weekend, I wandered over to Dean’s desk. I knelt beside it, quietly asking him if he was still feeling sad. The boy nodded.
“Did something happen over the weekend?”
Dean looked up, putting his pencil down. I regarded the healthy dollop of freckles adoring his face. He nodded again. “It were me birthday yesterday.”
“And that’s why you’re sad?”
Puzzled, I wished him a happy birthday, then asked him what he’d got.
Dean shook his head. “Nowt. Only fifty pence. I went to the shop and bought some crisps and a milkshake.”
At lunchtime, I made sure Dean got at least one birthday present. He got a school pencil case filled with pieces of stationary. When I gave it to him, he beamed, telling me it was his first ever.

At the end of September every member of staff had their photograph taken. They went up on a large notice board in the main entrance. Two days later, mine disappeared. Presuming one of the kids had stolen it, I had another taken. It went missing too.
The answer turned out to be quite flattering. A seventeen-year-old girl had taken a fancy to me. She was the older sister of a Kelly in my class. Kelly told me her big sister had stolen the photos. They were on her bedside table in a photo frame.
Even stranger was what happened not long after. It was hometime and as my class trooped out, I saw Andrew’s mum, Mrs Ross, waiting by the door. She was a slim woman in her late twenties with peroxide hair and leopard skin trousers. When she saw me looking, she smiled and waved. I smiled back, thinking nothing of it.
As the last of the children trickled out, I sat down to do some marking. A moment later, I noticed movement by the door. It was Mrs Ross. “Can I have a word please?” she said; her words slurred. Wobbling at the doorway for a moment, she came in, weaving past tables with deliberate care.
I put my pen down and got up. Suddenly, Mrs Ross crashed against a table, sending chairs toppling. She tried to grab one as it fell, but it was too late; they clattered to the floor with a deafening din. Steadying herself on the edge of the table, Mrs Ross giggled to herself. “Oh shit!”
As I started picking up fallen chairs, Mrs Ross spoke up. “You’re Andrew’s favourite teacher, you know.” I smiled, wondering where Andrew actually was. Perhaps he’d seen the state of his mother and had gone home by himself. I knew he didn’t live far. “And can I ask you a pershonal question, Mr Hunt?” she slurred. “What star sign are you?”
My mind flickered uncertainly. I hadn’t expected that question. Shrugging I told her I was a Leo.
“Ah,” leered Mrs Ross. “The lion. I knew you’d be the lion.” She giggled again, looking coy. “I’m a Scorpio. We’re very compatible, you know. I knew we would be. We’d make a good match.”
I didn’t know what to say. I knew what her husband would say though; he was a big bastard with tattoos. Involuntarily I took a step backwards.
Mrs Ross looked uncomfortable. “I’ve embarrashed you, haven’t I?” Before I had chance to answer, she staggered away, weaving back to the exit. At the door, she turned to face me once more. She looked humiliated. “I’m ever so shorry. I don’t know what came over me. Bye.” And then she was gone.

The week before we broke up for the autumn half term, I had another nasty run in with Barbara Cane. I was walking along the corridor to go home when she accosted me.
“Can you help me with these boxes please,” she asked, gesturing towards some large containers stacked up outside her office. I nodded and picked them up, following her out of the building. As we approached her car, she suddenly stopped and turned around, eyes flashing fire. “What’re you doing?” she yelled.
I was stunned. Perhaps I’d dropped something. Looking down, though, I could see nothing. Barbara took a step towards me. “Why are you helping me?”
I was confused. Mrs Cane had just asked me to help her, hadn’t she? Or had I missed something? I said, “You asked me to.”
She pointed a finger at me. “Did I? Did I?”
I said nothing, heart pounding.
“Put the boxes down. Leave me alone.” I did. I walked away without saying anything. She was clearly losing the plot.
The next day, Barbara was as nice as pie. As she led the school improvement officer around school, she was the model of decorum. Opening my classroom door, I saw Barbara gesturing towards me. “This is Mr Hunt,” she said to the woman in the dark suit. “He’s our Year 3 teacher.” My class stared at her, like they did with any new visitor. Mrs Cane continued. “He’s a magnificent educator. An asset to Burton Edge. He’s had the most wonderful effect on pupil behaviour around school. Isn’t that right, Mr Hunt?”
I forced a smile. “I suppose so.”
Barbara turned to the woman beside her. “Oh, he’s so bashful. Come on, I’ll show you Jane Harris in Year 4. Bye, Year 3! Bye, Mr Hunt! See you later!”
A superb performance by a master of disguise.

Away from the pressures of school, I formed a rock band with a few friends. After one successful gig, I decided to chat up a couple of pretty girls I’d spotted standing at the bar. “Hi,” I said to one of them. “I’m Jason and I’m a rock star.”
“Really?” she said, sceptically. She’d clearly not seen our star performance. Her friend turned to the bar to get a drink.
I decided to change tactics. “I bet you can’t guess my real job though.”
The girl looked back at me, slightly less bored. “No? What?”
“I’m a primary school teacher.”
“A teacher? You?” She seemed genuinely surprised. “You teach little kids?”
“Yeah. Seven and eight year olds. They’ve got gaps in the front of their mouths.”
“How cute!” she said, turning to pat her friends shoulder. “Kim, This guy’s a teacher.”
For the next twenty minutes I was the centre of attention. I recounted stories of school and the girls loved them all. Being a teacher impressed the ladies. Who’d have thought it? And the girl, Suzanne, became my girlfriend.
But, as in many situations like this, bad news was just around the corner. And at the centre, of course, was the Bully of Burton Edge.