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San Miguel

The Mother had had many jobs in her life, bingo caller, housing officer, personal shopper, sandwich maker.  She’d even worked as a kennel maid briefly. If she was being honest with herself, she hadn’t been particularly good at any of them, but the job at the kennels and the one at Mecca bingo was the only ones she’d actually been sacked from.    

It was a shame, but it came down to timing really. Her job caring for dogs happened to coincide and ultimately conflict with another new interest she had, drinking. The drinking led to several other pursuits, which also didn’t sit well with her new position  

Working with animals it turns out was quite hard work. It also turned out that a bed of straw and two warm puppies were the perfect place to lay down and recover from a heavy night. The manager was fairly tolerant, but on the third occasion, he caught her asleep with a young mastiff he’d had enough. Even now she could remember the pool of dribble on the ground as she came around and the awful thought that came with it. Christ was that me or the dog.  

Her career as a bingo caller was also short-lived. This was probably a good thing though, back in the day those places were thick with cigarette smoke, you could barely see the players through the black mist. A few years working there, and her life might also have been short-lived  

The job of being the Mother came much later in life, and most of the time, she was good at it, well in her opinion at least But working as a mother didn’t pay the bills. Christ if anything, it created them. So, in order to feed her kids and make sure they didn’t all get evicted, the Mother had to do something on the side.  

For a while now, the mother had worked as a supply teacher. It wasn’t her dream job, but then she only planned do it for a little while, until she got herself on her feet again.. At least that was what she’d told herself, and had done for the last 15 years. What she did like about the job though was being employed through an agency. Being a temp, meant you could never really get sacked. Mess up, and you just got moved on to another school Being a primary school teacher was something she thought herself as mediocre at. There had been a time when she had considered herself a good teacher. But years of endless paperwork, unpaid overtime, cuts to education, Ofsted inspections and of course unruly children had worn her down. She was happy to settle for mediocre.  

To be honest, working as a temp wasn’t that much different from being a permanent member of staff at a school. You still worried about the children’s progress and their predicted outcomes. You still laid awake at night thinking about how to best support your pupil premium kids, your EAL kids, your white British boys, your BME kids, and your gifted and talented children. Then, there are the hour-long discussions you have in the pub regarding accelerated learning, value-added learning, peer mentoring, report writing, and parents evening. And let’s not forget the after-school meetings – oh, God, yes, the endless meetings. But if at the end of it all, you find yourself on the verge of a nervous breakdown, you can always ask your agency for a new assignment. They won’t be happy, but they’ll find you one.  

Ancient History.  

Today, the mother is in Year 5, trying to teach a lesson on “The Shang Dynasty”. It was always going to be a long day. The children in the class keep talking, but they are not talking about ancient China. Two of the boys repeatedly stand up and do Fortnite dances when they think she is not looking. Courtney, who is a big girl in every way, keeps deliberately falling off her chair. It was a kind of party trick of hers. The Mother tells Courtney that if she falls off her chair one more time, she will have to move her name down.  

“I hope it doesn’t come to that, Countney,” says the mother and her words truly come from the heart. For if Brittany’s name has to be moved down any further, it will end up in Hades. Finally, after what feels like an infinite amount of time, but, in reality, is about 20 minutes, the Mother finishes the teaching session. Well, I use the word teaching quite loosely here.  

“Now I’ve explained the written work, has anyone got any questions before we start?” Asks the mother.  

A boy at the back of the class puts his hand up,  

“Is your hair dyed Miss?”   

Was he being facetious? She couldn’t tell any more.  

“Any other questions?” Nothing.    

“Okay class then begin your work,”   

To find out how this story ends, check out my blog tomorrow (26/06/20)

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