“fill me from the crown to the toe top full of the direst cruelty.”


I don’t know who I prefer, the pissed-up Pict in beach shorts annoying the hell out of the locals or the mad witch in my department.

No; pissed-up Pict every time.

She was at it again today. When does somebody eventually realise when they have been defeated? Mad eyes were revolving in their sockets as she came to get Brodie. I heard her from the shelter of my classroom. She was pecking at him, pecking him towards madness. She was also pecking away at my newly-found sanity. Claire joined the fray in an effort to save Brodie any more pecks but it was too late; the harpy was in proper pecking mode. Any students around must have thought that this was a rehearsal for Eastenders (or the Mallorcan equivalent). I told them to stop, but that didn’t work. And then she was in my classroom like a spent breath.

Just listening to her is to hear the droning of a persistent downpour. The life is sucked from the day. I tried to just let her moan on, an unwanted phantom who nobody wants to listen to. She did. And she did….And she…  All the time she was talking about a Golden Age when the English Department was perfect and happy and self-contained. The previous person who tried to pull this thing together went off the rails, wrote a wonderfully wounding email that she sent to all, drank another bottle of wine and told the bullies to go diddle themselves. Golden Age?

My indifference to the constant moans did its job; she started to get angrier and angrier. Claire was at my door and Brodie was just behind her. The hostility spread like a bushfire until everything was in flames and small explosions or dry matter made for grander pyrotechnics later. Mad woman stormed off to consult with her partner in crime, the Acting Head of Secondary, and hissed that it was Claire’s fault and that she was the one leading the bullying campaign. Claire exploded, Brodie exploded and I stood back and watched helplessly. The fan was running at full speed and it was being fed with as much of the smelly stuff that was available – lots. The bandits had regrouped and were taking over the saloon.  The Bad, The Bad, and The Worse.

We met in the Head’s office. Banshee had her screaming eyes on and her side-kick was there too with looks that could wither a Unicef Peace Convoy. What followed was nothing short of a duel with words for pistols and accusations for ammo. The Head was trying to mediate, the acting head of secondary was trying to advocate (for Mad Woman), Mad Woman was trying to assassinate, and Claire and Brodie were trying to ameliorate the action with impassioned speeches or unveiled recriminations. I was trying to keep cool. This lasted until Mad Woman’s friend made a dig at me and my professionalism. To which my response was to question the depth of her experience and her unique powers to see how things work without having first examined them. I did a little more and reminded her that she ought to have been following the directives of the Head Teacher to which she shrieked a reply that I was not showing her the appropriate respect. I laughed a little and then excused myself with the words. “It’s a waste of time talking to people who do not listen.”

Blood was spilled and pistols smoked.

The end of another day.


Oh, joy of joys! Teaching, you bring me comfort.

Way back when I loved Kate Bush. I absolutely loved Kate Bush. I made love to a girl who looked like her on somebody’s lawn on the night I left sixth form; there were worries that an unwanted pregnancy may have occurred,  but it didn’t. Unfortunately, this meant the end of my affair with Kate Bush, the girl that looked like Kate Bush and my childhood. Kate Bush did return in the nineteen eighties with a single that still remains with me on my iPhone- Running up that Hill. My new old friend reminded me of this on a Sunday morning in Mallorca.

My friend is the cyclist; the serious cyclist who loves nothing more than beasting himself on days when he ought to be resting. He was trying to work himself through really hard times. I was somewhere between Jesus and an average lonely bloke living on an island in the Mediterranean who needed company.


I stayed up on a Thursday night and into Friday to pick him up from the airport. It didn’t start off well.   



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