5 October 2006


I have always hated that social trick whereby people you have perhaps just met quickly pigeonhole you by finding out what you do for a living. I make a point of never asking anyone what they "do" and if anyone asks me I'll usually retort with - Well I cut the lawn in the summer, I play guitar, cook a mean stirfry, write poems.... You see I don't believe we should ever measure someone's worth or allow ourselves to hang stereotypical traits upon another simply because of what he/she does in the world of work.
That was my preamble. As regular visitors to this blog will know, I'm a secondary school teacher in a tough part of one of England's toughest cities. Most of our kids come from deprived council estates. I try not to touch on this part of my life very often because I'm me before you start sticking work-related labels on me.
You can guess that I meet some rather unpleasant teengagers. A particular sixteen year old girl I teach has been irritating me greatly of late. She isn't getting her GCSE coursework done. She lazes. She chatters. She wears her scruffy baseball cap. When challenged, she swears, lies, tries to place blame for her angry outbursts on others. She isn't stupid and perhaps she is as she is because of her family circumstances - one parent family, father long gone, little money in the home, no real constraints. But I didn't create that background so I don't accept that I should take any flak because of it. I have written home on four occasions this year detailing the girl's misdemeanours, bad language and failure to produce vital coursework.


So we came to today. She arrived late for the lesson with her horrible hat on and reeking of stale cigarette smoke. Crazily, we have to tackle an assignment on pre-1914 prose so we were reading Thomas Hardy's short story, "Tony Kytes - The Arch Deceiver". Actually I was reading it aloud with the kids following, applying my best agricultural Dorset accent to the dialogue - "I love 'ee Milly" etc.. Just as we were getting near the end of the story, there was a sudden "clunk" at the back of the room. The nasty girl who frequently leans back dangerously on her chair, in spite of warnings, had fallen backwards and banged her head on the table behind her. She lay supine on the floor, nursing her bonce like Bluto after Popeye has just hit him with a heavy plank.
I asked Gay Shaun to take her down to the office for medical attention. In a malevolent way, I freely admit that I was chuckling inside. It seemed like poetic justice for all the crap that I have had to endure from this genuinely unpleasant girl. Later, I reminded myself that she didn't finish reading the Hardy story and I can already hear her victorious whining voice next week, "I aven't read it so I can't write about it can I? Doh!" Still for a moment it felt like there might be a God after all.... Clunk! Thank you Lord!


  1. I don't know how you go about teaching Thomas hardy, whoever he is, to such pupils Mr Pudding but whether it be through the power of the prose or the force of your west country brogue you are obviously having some effect on these youngsters. I just hope you aren't up on a health and safety charge for this.

    I admit that a whole flood of memories of english teachers attempting accents has come into my head, and you are personally to blame sir for my now being unable to shake my former RP speaking velvet jacketed teacher ( who we all thought has surely turned up at the wrong school on his first day and never realised his mistake) reading 'tell me about the wabbits lenny' in coloquialial depresson era american from my head. These things effect your head long after the bruises have subsided

  2. Before
    I opened my mouth
    I noticed them sitting there
    as orderly as frozen fish
    in a package.

    Slowly water began to fill the room
    though I did not notice it
    till it reached
    my ears

    and then I heard the sounds
    of fish in an aquarium
    and I knew that though I had
    tried to drown them
    with my words
    that they had only opened up
    like gills for them
    and let me in.

    Together we swam around the room
    like thirty tails whacking words
    till the bell rang

    a hole in the door

    where we all leaked out

    They went to another class
    I suppose and I home

    where Queen Elizabeth
    my cat met me
    and licked my fins
    till they were hands again.

    D. C. Berry

  3. I secretly snickered for you, York. Sometimes karma shows her face in the most unlikely places. Clunk...perhaps you should make that her new nickname - the girl, not karma ;)

  4. Hehe, I have to admit I sniggered.

    I totally agree with fridaysweb about karma lol. The embarrassment that girl must have felt probably won't stop her from leaning back in her chair, though it WILL make her more careful, but hey, who knows?

    Maybe lightning really DOES strike twice :D

  5. Arthur, Frankly I don't know how anyone could go about teaching the Hardly Readable to anybody, let alone an oik with a disinclination to learn anything at all. Anyone attempting to do so deserves a medal; just don't tell Anyone I said so.

  6. Sure you hadn't put the 'fluence on her, YP? ;)


Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.

Most Visits