Wednesday, January 15, 2003

"Basil Clithopps"

Or, "1001 things to do with a supply teacher", a blog entry shamelessly pilfered back from The Law of the Playground, knocked around a bit in Word and re-posted here.

Schools always seem to have trouble hanging on to Religious Instruction teachers. They always seem to be sensitive types, stuck in a world midway between their religous calling and real life. In a school filled with "rehoused" problem families from London, we'd get through three or four a year, dragging them in, sucking out their life-blood and spitting them out at the other end. It was an appalling spectacle, but I suppose it prepared them for a tough life teaching comparitive religions somewhere really tough. Sometimes you got a teacher that "stuck". Doc Savage, Man of Bronze was one of these and ended up the head of his department, lording it over a staff of one. He'd been up the jungle, parachuted out of planes and wrestled with alligators. He was iron. He was an avenging God in action. It was just a shame we got Miss Reilly.

Miss Reilly was sent down to us because Mrs Merson had the usual "episode" an ended up crashing her pink Reliant Robin upside down in a ditch after a bizarre incident that also wrote off the Headmaster's brand new Nissan (strangely purchased the week after the school fair). Miss Reilly was straight out of college, all pebble glasses, big hair and tie-dyed clothes. She had been spotted with a guitar and a tambourine, and she drove a VW Combi, which many people suspected doubled up as her home. Doom.

"Now", she said, "I don't know your names, so if you could write yours down on this desk plan, we'll soon get to know each other, won't we?" So we did. Most of us, anyway. Andy Harris wrote down his name as Basil Clithopps and the name stuck for a whole six months. He even had an exercise book with the name on the front. Miss Reilly, bless her, didn't smell a rat at all. Basil's absence from the register was explained by the fact that he just moved to the area from Cardiff, so she pencilled him in. And as for the absence of Andrew Harrop? "He's in hospital, Miss, in a coma." The poor girl believed that one as well. All those joss sticks had gone to her head.

The whole plan went swimmingly for the entire school year, and Andy might have got away with it too if it wasn't for one tiny little detail - the end of year reports. Basil Clithopps got a report saying he was a model, if slightly rowdy, student, while Andy's bemoaned the loss of a whole year's work due to the unfortunate accident that had wiped out his entire family and left him "a vegetable, Miss, very tragic" in hospital. Miss Reilly cried when she found out.

You know the drill by now. The shit hit the fan. Andy was summonsed to the Head's office, was bawled out for "reducing a teaching colleague to tears" and suspended for a week, giving the lucky bugger an extra week's summer holiday. And they say crime doesn't pay.

I know it was evil and we shouldn't have stooped so low as to make a supply teacher's life hell, even if she was a drippy hippy ten years too late and swimming well out of her depth. So we'll give you a happy ending. The whole experience toughened her up, cleaned up her act and changed her entire career path, instilling a pathological hatred for the Welsh into the bargain. She changed her name, her wardrobe and her entire outlook on life. She is now Anne Robinson. What d'you mean I'm making this up as I go along?

Translation note for Americans: Supply teacher = substitute teacher.


I'm been getting loads of hits today from Anybody care to enlighten me - was it the Rocastle link I posted yesterday? And while you're here - what, exactly, is that thing you do waving your arms in the air when you get a corner? That's been doing my head in for years.

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