, ,

The sky filthily weeping.. He thought that was a very apt example of

personification which he could use with his English group later that

day.  Wasn’t it a Norman MacCaig poem?  Figurative language.

Always a good filler for times when preparation time had been

eroded by Life.

Snod had just had a rugbyfest over the weekend.  He had watched

Scotland win against Italy at Murrayfield and had then done his

ironing while taking in the French game against Wales.  Sheer

indulgence, but it was very satisfying.  But there’s no such thing as a

free weekend, not if you are in teaching, and Snod had been a

teacher for a very long time indeed.

Scottish rugby match

Monday seemed flat.  But-hello!- what was that in the criss-cross

board?  A letter without a stamp. There was a perfunctory label

with notification that he should have had to pay the postman £1, but

he had got away with it.  Or they had.  Whoever they were.

He ambled into the staffroom, which was curiously empty.  In his

non PC youth the hub had been humming with staff asking each

other crossword clues, reading racing tips and laughing about

certain idiots in 2C, while smoking pipes in an Inkling manner

and burning holes in the upholstery.  Ah well, he was free, periods

1 and 2.  They called it preparation time now.  He used it as a kind

of Gird up your loins, old boy breathing space, before

the onslaught.  Now where was that Telegraph?

Milford-Haven burst in.  He noticed Snod had the letter in his hand.

Early Valentine, Snod?  he quipped.

Insolent puppy!  He waited till Nigel had grabbed his teacher’s

planner and left, slamming the door in that irritating manner of his.

Snodbury’s heart gave a lurch.  He recognised the handwriting- or

the green pen that Diana had invariably used.  He was always telling

the boys that the use of anything other than blue or black ink was a

sign of neuroticism.  Well, maybe he could qualify that judgement if

the ink was used by a woman.  Let’s face it, they were all neurotic


He read the message and clutched at his chest and turned pale.

The Headmaster’s Secretary entered the staffroom with a pile of

publications which was destined for the pigeon-holes and shortly

afterwards for the re-cycling bins.  She was going to give him her

signature look which suggested that she was surprised that he hadn’t

anything better to do, but then she asked him if he was all right.  She

even used his abbreviated Christian name: Gus and suggested that

he go and lie down in his flat.

I’ll arrange cover for you.  Let’s see..who is free periods 3 and 4?

I’ll just write out a pink slip.

I might just go upstairs after all, said Snod, who had never had a

day’s absence since he commenced his career, even though many a

child had been praying for the occasion- and many a colleague.

Nigel rushed in at the end of period 2.  He had an hour to mark that

wretched prep before 5 and 6.  Coffee!  He knew that he had to pay

the price of watching the rugby, but thankfully most of the questions

had been multiple choice.  Hey!  He could get them to swap and

mark each other’s. But one still had to check the totals.  He stuck his

hand in his pigeon-hole to retrieve the work and-drat!  Double

drat!!  There was a pink slip which invited him to cover for Mr

Snodbury’s classes in 3 and 4.  That hadn’t been there earlier.  In fact

Snod had been in the staffroom and looked perfectly all right.  Oh

yes, but he had been holding a letter.  Something must have upset

him.  But not as much as Nigel was absolutely discomfited by the

shock of having to take John  Boothroyde-Smythe and Co at short


Gee thanks a lot, Snod! 

He almost wished that a pink slip had retained its original message.

He was past caring about career prospects.  He just wanted peace!