Sunday, February 1, 2015

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

They say snow is on the way. Hurray! My son and all his university pals are terribly excited about the prospect but, then again, they would be: they’re all on holiday until further notice. Meanwhile, we downtrodden workers of this world have to keep the wheels of industry spinning, don’t we? And there’ll be plenty of wheels spinning on the roads this week, by the look of it.

Put simply, snow is bad news all round for nearly everybody, but especially for those poor sods – such as yours truly, of course – who get caught up in the crossfire. Would-be teachers ring in to say they can’t get their car out of the garage; on-call teachers call in to say they’ve got lost on their way to the coast; gung-ho teachers phone in to say that they traipsed through 300 metres of snow up a mountain only to have no students turn up. Angry clients fire off emails demanding to know where their teacher has got to; confused students text their teacher wanting to know whether they can have a lie-in today; beleaguered secretaries promise customers that normal service will be resumed as soon as possible... and, failing that, by next Monday, we promise.  

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, furious bosses demand to know why you cancelled today’s classes because of a few harmless snowflakes; why you promised your students a full refund; why you told your teachers to stay at home; why you hadn’t foreseen this disaster; and why, in spite of everything, you still find the whole sorry affair so damned funny.

I’ll keep you posted J

(This mountain overlooks our town. Whenever it snows, a smiling lady appears. Can you see her?)


Complaints, complaints, complaints. Being director of studies was the most thankless job you could imagine, but every school needed one: someone you could bore, blame or bollock whenever things weren’t going quite right.

The official title for the school scapegoat was “director of studies”, but in practice you rarely directed studies; “director of strife” would have been a far more accurate title in Simon’s case. He spent most of his working day – most of his life, in other words – dealing with angry people: angry students, angry teachers, angry parents, angry bosses … Why was everybody always so angry? Why did they always vent their anger at him? Didn’t they know that wrath was one of the Seven Deadly Sins? Why did he have to answer all the “Why?” questions? Because he was director of strife; that’s why.

‘Excuse me, Mr. Holepunch.’
‘What is it, Alison?’
‘Why do I have to repeat the course?’
‘Because you have to pass the exam to go up a level.’
‘Yes, but Jeff failed his exam and he’s not repeating the course. Why’s that?’
‘Because Jeff’s father’s our local MP, Alison.’ …

‘Oy, Simon!’
‘What now, Colin?’
‘Why do I have to give this class?’
‘Because it’s an emergency.’
‘And why can’t Kevin do it?’
‘Because he’s far too young to take Drowning in Drink, don’t you think?’ …

‘Are you in charge here?’
‘Sort of.’
‘Why did you send my Samantha home?’
‘Because your Samantha set fire to our library.’
‘Nobody ever used that bloody library. Why’s it such a big deal?’
‘Because Miss Tedley was in there having forty winks at the time.’ …

‘Got a minute, Simon?’
‘Why haven’t you finished the teacher-class assignments yet?’
‘Because we have five thousand groups and only fifteen teachers.’
‘So why haven’t we advertised for more teachers?’
‘Because you won’t let me pay for an advert, let alone a teacher. Any more questions, Dolores?’ …

dayrealing, Chapter 27, “Private Universe”