15 April 2012


Not Blogland but Dinnington, South Yorkshire
I'm settling in to life in Blogland but I must admit that I have far too much time to think. Too many hours spent on my own. Okay there's the Burmese servants and Thuza especially has made every effort to make me feel welcome. But they're not bloggers and they don't communicate in English. I hate to admit it but I'm feeling a tad lonely.

This afternoon, I inflated my "Donald Duck" airbed and floated away from Pudding Beach towards the uninhabited islets that lie just off shore. The tropical sun was sweltering down so I was grateful that Thuza had expertly applied protective coconut oil to every exposed nook and cranny of the corporal temple in which I dwell. The sea was so calm - just a gentle swell  - and after a while my mind started drifting back to the late nineteen seventies...to November 1977 in fact...

I was about to leave university and had intended beginning my teaching career proper in London but to my amazement the interview panel at Fairlop High School  in Ilford had instead opted for the teacher who  was already temporarily in post. I had a broken leg at the time and on my way back to Scotland I scanned "The Times Educational Supplement" for another English post. January was getting close and in teaching there are only three points in the year when you can commence a new position. In that respect it's not like other jobs.
Dinnington High School
So, ten days later I was back in England again - still with a broken leg - at the South Yorkshire mining village of Dinnington. In those days the local pit was still operational and the visual backdrop to Dinnington Comprehensive School's higgledy piggledy collection of uninspirational buildings and temporary huts was a vast charcoal coloured mound - the slag heap.

The morning went well and I ate lunch with the other candidates - talking politely to them when I really wanted to knock them out. The afternoon was reserved for the formal interviews.

Hobbling in like Long John Silver, I noticed the size of the interview panel - all sitting formally behind a long table. There was the headmaster, the Head of English, a deputy head, the local authority's English adviser and four members of the governing body including the chair of governors who I discovered later was  also a "deputy" at the local pit: a big strong man with skin the colour of lard and hair as black as coal. He spent most of the interview just glowering at me. Sitting on a plastic chair in front of this assemblage of important people, I felt like a prisoner in front of the parole board.

The interview went swimmingly. I dodged and dived and batted responses back to them that left all but one of them smiling - they surely had their chosen candidate in front of them. Then the headmaster, Mr Ingham, turned to the chair of governors. "Ahem! Have you got any questions Mr Burkinshaw?"

A hush filled the room. I was expecting something highbrow pertaining to the advertised post. Then Mr Burkinshaw cleared his throat.

"Aye 'edmaster, ah've just got wun question to ask 'im... "

All eyes of the interview panel turned to him with expectation or was it embarrassment.

"Are ye courting?"

I rapidly processed this irrelevant question in my head, quickly judging that the ignoramus was trying to clarify my sexuality. Good god, in a pit village like Dinnington they wouldn't have wanted any puftas on the staff! I was tempted to say to Mr Burkinshaw - "No, I'm not courting but you seem like a nice boy!" Instead I spluttered something about my Scottish girlfriend and how we were in a serious relationship though I refused to embellish my response with the details of my red-blooded heterosexuality...

The airbed had drifted close to the first rocky islet. A single shark fin was circling my vulnerable craft and I splashed madly back to Pudding Beach where Thuza was waiting with my Superman beach towel.
Dinnington slag heap today.  © Copyright Martin Lee


  1. Where is Shirley? I was hoping to meet her.

  2. I have been wonder about Shirley also??????...and is she the said Scottish lass?

  3. I've read the books on 'Tricky Interview Questions' but that's a new one on me.

  4. I have visions of us all sitting round a camp fire in the evening, sharing such stories, if the rest of us ever get out there to join you!

  5. JAN BLAWAT Her work contract means she has to continue nursing through till August or lose all pension rights. It was a last minute discovery. When she's here she will attend to your poorly foot.
    HELEN (EDWINA) No - she's a Lincolnshire lass so our children are of mixed race. I dumped the Scottish maiden as she was only after my money.
    SHOOTING PARROTS Funny how when the adrenalin is racing you're able to process and respond very rapidly.
    JENNY Not just campfire stories but campfire songs too! You'll have to re-learn some of your old songs from Brownies and Girl Guides.

  6. I fear the tropical sun is causing you to hallucinate. Disney Enterprises do not make a Donald Duck airbed (though there is a Superman beach towel), and what you call the Dinnington Slag Heap today" is actually the view from Kensington Palace.

  7. RHYMES WITH... Another sleight upon our Royal Family! And with regard to my Donald Duck airbed - it's probably not an officially licensed Disney product. Now I feel so glad that I instructed the Burmese construction company to erect your dwelling close to the country's only sewage treatment plant!

  8. Never in either, I'm afraid, YP.

  9. Au contraire, mon ami! I love, love, love your royal family. I consider them my royal family.

    If only they would invite me for a sleepover....

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. if you haven't, then you must see this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRtBvo9grLw


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