by Bryony Allen |
…Flicking through her jotter at parent's evening was also a top tip from teacher training college – possibly the only one. Looking for that one elusive anecdote that Mr. and Mrs. Jackson really must hear about Gemma was a fabulous way of killing at least one whole minute. That left only nine minutes in which she had to listen to their complaints about how her teaching had failed to ignite Gemma’s true spark – how do you recreate fizz in a flat bottle of Coke?
It was 12.21 - thirty nine minutes before the next bout commenced. Luckily, another spell of laryngitis had put paid to Katie's choral speaking club, which her cherubs attended every Wednesday lunchtime with glee. Choral speaking was 'a success of the school', if you believed the prospectus. Indeed the children loved the lunchtime club; spoke with enthusiasm, beautifully clear diction and with as close to a genuine love of learning as they were ever likely to experience at Beaver's Brook Primary School. If only she could bottle that passion and turn it into an aromatherapy essence, Katie’s year sixes would not only achieve level four but sneer at its ease.
Miss Maker perched on the edge of 'her' chair, smugly congratulating herself on landing the only chair that did not directly face Marje Heddon, the deputy head. Marje's chair paid homage to the great lady herself: a white covering of snow indicated the success of Marje's own anti-dandruff remedies. Crisps, breadcrumbs, orange peel and somewhat sticky, unidentifiable objects spread like a skirt around the base of the chair. The seat itself was the perfect epitaph, being autographed by two perfectly moulded cheeks which gently cushioned away the stresses and strains of a lifetime of 'little buggers'.
But the true might of Marje was in her appearance. The bleached hair, which was all the rage in the eighties had made a long-lasting impression on her then thirty-something head, and she had made it her ambition to keep all peroxide manufacturers in business ever since. Wow, what that lady could not do to roots is not worth knowing! Her make-up was also an art form to behold. It must have been surgically implanted in the seventies, complete with cartwheel mascara, turquoise blue eye shadow and more lip-gloss than even your four-year-old sister would wear.
The 'piece de resistance', however, was the clothes. She had fallen in love with the power dressing image of the late eighties, especially the belt-like skirts; the skirts your skinny size ten friend looked lethal in, but which flaunted all those extra areas on your body which even your mother had advised you to hide. Marje would probably have fallen into the latter category, except that she could never have had a mother, as she had never been young. Do you remember Kenny Everett's "best possible taste"? Yes? Now imagine Tina Turner's thighs enlarged about twenty times, Ann Summer's hold-up stockings and more pubic hair than even the strongest hair removing cream could handle. Take a moment to digest…that is why Katie could not bear to sit opposite Mrs Heddon.
The kettle clicked and Katie went across to pull a doubly-extra-caffeinated tea bag from an old ice-cream tub labelled 'Katie's Bags', re-labelled 'Katie's a Bag' by some amazingly witty joker. She checked the clock again - 12.22 - and calculated that she would have to remove the bag at 12.25 precisely. Then she opened the cupboard and rummaged amongst the paracetamol, emergency tampons, incontinence pads, plastic whisky miniatures (empty) and exploded tea-bags in order to reach another old ice-cream tub labelled 'Katie's Nosh', re-labelled by that same amazingly witty joker, 'Katie likes to Nosh'. In her other rather sweaty hand she clutched a small container of happy pills.
12.23- oh, how she needed that pill right now, but she was under strict medical instructions not to alter her pill-popping times. She watched the seconds slug by, experiencing a bizarre, yet brief, moment of empathy as she realised just how much her 'round table’ loathed the tick of the timer in their weekly 'Beat the Egg Timer' multiplication challenge. (The egg timer, incidentally, met a sticky end when one of the said tables hurled it out of the window after another 'nil points'.) Katie's mother had mentioned empathy on many an occasion as she clucked over her brutish grand spawn. Perhaps empathy really does exist...bollocks, its probably just caffeine and drug deprivation.
12.24 - pop that pill and party! Katie navigated a path to the ‘kitchen area’ (definitely estate agent speak) and squeezed the last drops out of her tea bag before flinging it at the bin. Mahogany brown droplets spattered the wall as it ricocheted in, but Katie neither noticed nor cared. Cleanliness was one of the few areas that Ofsted had not criticised; hardly surprising as it was the area that had received the most attention in the weeks preceding. Even the children's exercise books had been given new covers where there was the slightest mark. But post-Ofsted everything was ops-normal…