Amblefifth. Early February.


It had come to February. Sean thought that the worst of winter was over. Just then it came and bit him on the arse with a heavy snowfall.

Once he took Lisa to lunch in the local pub mid week. It was a morale booster.

Overall he was not happy. But things were jerst about tolerable. The Australian gap year girls were not quite the beach babes he had hoped for. The plump blonde one was doable. Why did he not go for her?

Sean walked along the mud clogged lane. The hills were desolate and the birds sang no more. He longed for the flowers to bloom again and knew it could not be long till they did.



Stephen Erwin Montague was still a poltroon. He led the others in making facetious comments. Most of the others hardly paid attention. It was the pair of Belgians who made a decent effort. Despite speaking English as a second language these boys outperformed their British classmates.

This school took pupils who were ragamuffin and bobtail. The pertinacity of many pupils was very hard to endure.




The departmental printer was in Murphy’s office. He insisted that every single page he accounted for. This man would be much better as a bean counter such was his attention to minutiae.

Sean went in one afternoon to get some papers he had printed out. As he came out Murphy said.

”May I ask what you were doing in there?” he sniffled ominously.

It was always ”may I ask?” He was asking to ask? May you ask? Er… you just did. What an overly florid and wankerish way of posing a question.

”Yes, I was getting some print outs.”

”There were some highly confidential documents on my computer”, he twisted his mouth to the right. ”It is not rocket science.”

Sean could not help but shoot Murphy a withering glance. He was a contemner of such paranoia. For once Murphy shrank back. As though Sean was pathetic enough to sneak into the office with a view to looking at secret documents on Murphy;s screen. Who did Murphy think he was? James Bond? The self importance was risible. If these documents were so sensitive was he not stupid to leave them on the screen when the office was unlocked? He knew all members of the department had the right to go in there. He had said it was the departmental office and not his personal office. Why was he so mistrustful? The most mendacious people are those who trust others the least. As he is lying half the time he expects others to deceive him.

Sean’s untidy habits were irksome to Murphy. Sean could not win. If he suppressed disruptive behaviour he was cruel. If not he was feeble.

”It would be a heck of a big deal if you were looking at secret documents.”



Down the pub a few days later saw Miss Ennis chatting with her loathsome friends. ”I cannot stop smiling!”

Sean began to put two and two together. Highly confidential document on Murphy’s computer. He knew that Miss Cavanagh had a boyfriend at a school in the Midlands. Could she be seeking to move? He and Miss C were hardly on speaking terms.

Then Sean fell into conversation with Abel. Abel’s religious obsessions was becoming feverish. It made Sean muse on the crossover between faith and mania. ”I want to bring someone before an ecclesiastical consistory court. Have him hauled up before the inquisition. Upon a charge of heresy”. Abel was not even tipsy. Behind all this bravado Sean deduced that Abel was increasingly unhappy. Marital strife he wondered. He thought it tactless to ask.



Sean was preparing something between lessons. Murphy’s unwelcome mug hove into view. The long faced sour puss came into Sean’s room uninvited. This visitation was the last thing Sean needed. He was utterly sick of the sight of this malevolent man.

There followed a discussion on producing new materials. Sean was not a believer in making his own resources. Why did the school buy textbooks? These were printed by experts in educational publishing. They were much better than anything an addled new teacher who was pressed for time was going to produce. At the very least they were in colour.

Sean was imprudent enough to speak his mind. ”I do not believe in reinventing the wheel”,  he explained crisply.

”Right” said Murphy with his arms folded. He was not agreeing but merely registering Sean’s heterodox opinion. Murphy’s face darkened. He was mortally offended that his subordinate did not wholly concur with him. Murphy hurried out. In that moment Sean had lost his job. It was an act of outrageous independence of mind not to see eye to eye with his superior.

Murphy’s glaring peculiarities did not make him more sympathetic to Sean’s maverick nature. Murphy spoke in a collocation of National Curriculum jargon and management speak. Sean detested having to write his own textbooks. It was a reduplication of work already done by others.

Sean’s desk was in disorder and that killed Murphy.



Sean was a flatulent type. Being a beer monster exacerbated the problem. He remembered a man from the West Country he had met once. ”It likes it whens I farts. Then I knows I is healthy. Don’t like cheese though. Bungs I up.”

Sean would sometimes release a fragrance in class. It would be silent but violent. He was minded to call out stink bomb! Which is what he did around his three year old niece.

Sometimes the odour was too pungent. He would do it when walking around the class. He would execute a sharp about-turn and deliver it inches form the face of a particularly objectionable pupil. He would rapidly distance himself from the vile smell. This would be a bid to cast suspicion onto an innocent party. In seconds the pupils would be coughing and spluttering. ”Uh rank.. WHo just guffed?” a boy would say. Pupils would lift their jumpers to their noses and open the window. Some would start lachrymating. Sean’s flatus would quell a riot – or start one. Sean would strive to suppress a triumphant smirk. He had got the little bastards back.



There was a Liverpudlian art teacher who had just joined the staff. Her name was Tracey York. There was a collectedness about her that Sean found alluring.  She was desirable and bronzed. She did not have the radiance of Barbara but she was most acceptable.

Sean got to know her down the pub. Tracey was 23 and had a fake tan. Her hair was jet black and she had a nose stud. She spoke in a strong Scouse accent. She was vivacious but not too brainy. She had studied art at a polytechnic. Time for a bit of northern rough.

”What were you doing before you came here?”

”I was travelling. I went to Hungary and then in Romania. I went to Sighsoara.” She pronounced it ”sig a sore a”. Sean had been to Romania and knew it was ”Sig ish oo a ra” but did not correct her.

”Fabulous I like travel too.”

Sean was attracted to her but thought he had better not make a move. He had set his cap at two women already and been courteously rejected by them.

Lisa told him ”People say Sean fancies everyone”

He was a single boy in a remote village. There were not a lot of options. He needed some.

Then one Sunday night he invited the young crowd around to his gaffe.. There was the French midget. The German assistant was there. Lisa and her boyfriend was. So was Tracey.

They had a few beers. The others then felt it was time to leave. It was only Tracey and Sean left.

Then Tracey stood up. She looked at him penetratingly. ”So Sean do you think I look all right?” she purred. She swayed as she slowly walked towards him. Sean instantly realised what was happening.

”yes, certainly. You are ravishing.” said Sean. Tracey’s blush was visible even through her tan.

”Ravishing not a word I ever heard in Liverpool. You are brainy and that turns me on” she said.

”Oh thanks” he stood up and moved towards her. She then put her arms around his waist. She stared at him and licked her lips seductively. Sean did not dally. He lowered his face to hers and they snogged. She began feeling his shoulders and biceps. He gripped her bum and stroked it. He hands wandered over her A cup tits.

She rubbed his crotch and felt his erection. She then Pulled off her blouse. He looked at her petite body. There was a tattoo near her right hip. She then undid her bra and showed him her small round tits.

”Fantastic boobs” he said. He then leant down and sucked one whilst caressing the other. She cooed.

”Hey do you want to come upstairs?” he said.

”No come back to my place.”

The walked 5 minutes down the road to hers. She was on the ground floor. Her housemates lived upstairs.

Then they continued their frottage till she was stripped off. Her pussy was waxed

”Do you want to use anything?” she warbled


”Ok then” she said nervously

He mounted her. He could not believe her luck – he was getting to storm her ramparts so soon.

”Oh yes you are a good fuck” she said. As he humped her he was experiencing rhapsody. But he came in her after two minutes

”I am such a slut” she said ”I have done with with 120 guys”

He was turned on by her having been fucked by so many boys.

”Oh wow that is so fucking cool”

She got him hard again.  She insisted that they do it on the wool carpet. Then she wanted to go on top. She did. She bounced on him cowgirl and came again. Sean was in clover.

Back in bed she said ” I had a friend who was not very experienced. So I brought her to my boyfriend at the time. I taught her how to suck his cock”

”Oh my God. Oh wow! That is so fucking cool”

”I seduced my sister’s boyfriend once.”

”you minx. Doesn’t your dad mind?”

”No he just wants us to be happy his three daughters.  He protects us and so does my sister’s boyfriend. He deals cannabis so he is hard/”

They slept soundly and did it once more

”What will you do if you are pregnant?” he asked

”I will have it/”

He was not sure she would.

At breaktime she intimated that his performance had been substandard and she would not do him again. He was disappointed. What had be done wrong? Fortunately the Scous did not spell it out. She was a genuine and amiable sort. She was as working class as they come and did not pretend to be anything else. Sean admired her for her sincerity. It was strange but commendable that the pupils did not contempt her for her proletarian origins. They often exhibited snobbism towards others.

Sean was a little put out – he had construed sex as indicating a level of affection. Plainly that as not the way it worked in Liverpool.



Valentine’s Day was coming up. Sean was having luncheon in a staff dining room. He overheard Miss C speaking about her plans. ”I am going to beautify and then drive to him.” The very idea of Miss Cavanagh being beautiful made him nauseous. Her personality was the only this more hideous than her person. ”My boyfriend says we are going away somewhere. I don’t know where it is but I have got to bring my passport.”



It was coming up to Valentine’s Day. Lisa said that her boyfriend refused to give her a Valentine because he did not believe in it. Prick. He was an immoral philosopher. ”I will send you one if you like but not in that kind of way”

”Yes please”

So he bought one and wrote something friendly and put it into her letterbox the night before.

There was the Spanish assistant Luz. She was 28. She had dark brown curly hair. Her pigmentation was a little darker than most. She was slender and pretty though her nose was overly prominent. She was clever and lively . Sean could not understand why she was doing such a dead end job. She had a degree in Chemistry.

She was one of the few single women around. Sean consulted Lisa – his window into all things feminine. She advised him to go for it. What did he have to lose?

Sean sent her a Valentine’s Day card. He left it in her pigeonhole

That evening Sean saw Luz in the White Swan. Her face was stern and unyielding.

”I received your card” she said firmly. Her tone was all Sean needed to know. Her body language was rigid – as though she expected him to approach and that she would need to shove him away.

”Oh” he paused for a long time ”I see.”

Luz told others about it which Sean found humiliating. He sat in a corner feeling down in the dumps. The miniscule French assistant came up to him. He did not fancy her. Though she was good looking she was so small that she looked like a child. Sean thought to himself that he could not fuck her – she might break.

”Are you ok?” she said not sounding sympathetic.

”Yes, I am”

”You do not look ok.”

Sean stood up and went home. He shrugged it off. He soon got over the rejection. He had had plenty of practice. He thought what a chump he had been to go for her when she had never hinted to him that she desired him. Then again no one else had given him this signal. Was he not to be opportunistic? What was there is lose except a bit of pride.

He saw Luz the next day in the staff room. No one else was around.

”I accept your decision” he said formally. ”I do not want to annoy you so I will stay away from you and not speak to you.”

”No, no it is ok.”

Sean then spoke to her normally without ever seeking her out. What could have been a very gauche situation turned out to be a comfortable one.



The inspector was coming too. Sean had frantic meetings with Murphy. As usual the man with the long angular, diabolonian bald skull glowered. His melancholic hiss warned Sean darkly that there was ”a HECK of a lot of catching up to do.” The dreary worrier told Sean, ” You have to get the documentation right. That is far more important than teaching. It is all about paperwork. That is what educates them. ” Sean thought of the cartoon character Stressed Eric – that was Murphy.

Murphy sniffed and twitched his mouth to the right. He pushed out his lips and tweaked them. His sinuses were plaguing him again.

The day dawned. Sean met Mr Inspector in first lesson when he was free. It was a Tuesday.

Mr Inspector walked in. He was a man of about 50 years of age. His woolly mid brown locks were tending to grey. He wore steel rimmed little glasses and had an elvish face. His manner was kindly. Inspector greeted Sean warmly.

”How is it going?”

”Quite well thank you.”

”I see. I have been reading the reports from Mr Murphy. You have had more meetings than anyone else on the course.” That seemed to be chiding him: as if to suggest the meetings were helpful. Sean knew that these meetings with Murphy and Mrs Arrowsmith were at best a waste of time. In fact these were sessions for nit picking. Murphy could vent his spleen at Sean. Sean was used to being Murphy’s emotional punchbag. Murphy took his stress out on Sean.

”I see.”

”Anyway where do you see your future career?”

”May I speak freely?”


”You will not report what I have just said to Mr Murphy?”

”I will not I assure you.”

”I will do my two years. Then I want out of here. Mr Murphy and I do not get on at all.”

The conversation soon ended. They were in Murphy’s office which adjoined Murphy’s classroom. Then they went into the classroom. Murphy was in his classroom – not far from the door. Had he heard every word? Probably. He must have been ear wigging. Why was Murphy so hyper suspicious? It suggested he was devious himself. A man of probity is not like that. Murphy looked shifty.

Mr Inspector watched a few lessons. Sean taught the brainier lower sixth group. The lesson on Sir Robert Peel went fairly well. In passing Sean said ”Peel is not remembered as a foreign policy Prime Minister.”

There was discussion of the Chartists. They demanded salaries for Members of Parliament among other things.

”Sir, did the MPs ever get paid?” asked the cleverest boy.

”Yes they did. That started in 1910 so a Chartist aim was achieved but long after the Chartists dissolved.”

Later Mr Inspector had a discussion with Sean. ”Well some of the content was fine. The basic plan was all right. Some of them were engaged. Your classroom management is all right. Your plans are all a bit samey. You said that Peel is not recalled as a foreign policy PM – well that is true but off topic.”

”Should I answer questions if they ask them?”

”If they are no directly related to the curriculum then no.”

”I see.”

”And you said something erroneous. You said MPs were not paid until 1910. It was 1911.”

This hair splitting seemed unfair –  so Sean thought. They pupils did not need to know this year since it was beyond the remit of the course. He had told them that to satisfy intellectual curiosity. Whetting a desire to learn might have been assumed to be his pedagogical mission.

Inspector also watched a lesson with upper sixth. One boy arrived late and Sean handled it with aplomb. There was a discussion with the inspector at the end.

”Can you show me the scheme of work?”

Sean had various pamphlets on the bookshelves at the back. He had to rummage through them before he found it. He finally laid his hand on the pertinent one.

”You had difficulty locating it” said the man. That was true. Sean was flummoxed by the constant over organisation. Plans for this and schemes for that. So many bits of paper – blizzards of them.

Later Sean inquired ”Do you think that historiography is important?”

”I think it is increasingly important.”

Sean was disappointed with this answer. Murphy was always on at him to read up on historiography. At the same time Murphy was always harping on that Sean must stick exactly the curriculum and never deviate. There was nothing on the curriculum about historiography. As usual Murphy was issuing contradictory instructions.

”I am only here three days a year. I have to be guided by what Murphy says” said Inspector.

Mr Inspector went away and Sean was confident that he had passed. He would have to tolerate Murphy – the bane of his life – not much longer.



Sean went in to see Murphy next day. He yearned to be rid of this baleful duty.

”So how do you feel the inspection went?” said Murphy between sniffles. He was looking particularly morose.

”Pretty well. He was satisfied with me.”

”I do not know where you got that idea from. Last time he was not sure but he gave you the benefit of the doubt this time he is not satisfied with you.” It was a pity that Murphy did not see it the same way as Sean.

”I am surprised.”

”Ah right” said Sean

”Sean one thing is I like you. I really like you.”

Sean was stunned by this. Why was Murphy telling him such an utterly blatant lie? Sean hated Murphy homicidally. Why was Murphy claiming to like him? The way Murphy treated him suggested the total opposite. Was he expecting Sean to return the compliment.

What would Murphy be better off as? A spy? No, he was too gangly and conspicuous with less charisma than a malignant tumour. A spy hunter? A witch finder?



It was Thursday. Sean was in the staff room. It was mid morning break. He saw Murphy there – he rarely attended break. That would be an outrageous indulgence. He saw Murphy talking to the headmaster. They looked in his direction and Murphy nodded towards him – as though pointing Sean out to the headmaster.

The little headmaster toddled over to Sean. ”Hello Sean” he susurated.

”Hello Father” said Sean pleasantly surprised that the head should take an interest in him. He had not had a substantial conversation with the head since his interview.

”COuld I have a brief word with you in my office?”

”Certainly” said Sean taken aback. He had no idea what it was about. He put his cup of coffee down and followed the headmaster. Sean sensed he was not being called in for a promotion. Up until then the head had not been exactly solicitous.

The head’s office was  minute’s walk down the corridor. They went and sat down in the modern but unprepossessing office.

”There are some concerns about your teaching Sean – and they are serious.”

”I see”, he said nonplussed.

”We need to have a meeting about you teaching ability. You may wish to invite a trades union representative.”

”It is that bad is it?”, said Sean disbelievingly? He felt curiously mischievous.

The headmaster then handed Sean a report. ”Mr Murphy has written this about you. You need to read it and prepare to respond to it. It is a capability disciplinary hearing that we will be having.”

Sean went away. His head was spinning. In his classroom he read page after page of abuse. Only yesterday Murphy had gone out of his way to assure Sean that he liked him. All the while Murphy was compiling a list of complaints. Sean had missed a meeting of the Westminster Society in September. He was not required to attend this society. Was this taken down in evidence against Fr Augustine too who was also a member of the department? There were emails of complaint from colleagues and parents. So Murphy was breaching their confidentiality. He had used emails about Sean. Perhaps they were heavily weeded with the positive ones removed.

Sean had found it very hard to deal with the conflicting advice he received from Murphy and other supposed gurus of teaching. When he wanted to do certain things he was often overruled. He had no autonomy. Then he was told to be his own man.



Sean went to speak to a member of staff who was to assist him in this. Mrs Curtis was a woman of about 50. She was a very agreeable northern Englishwoman and bore a striking resemblance to Sean’s grandmother. She was short, podgy and asthmatic.

Mrs Curtis listened sympathetically. She was very personable especially considering that she was a Maths teacher.

”Ok you have to fight this. Challenge what you can” she advised him. ”There will be a hearing in a few days.”

Sean and Mrs Curtis went to See the headmaster in a pre hearing meeting.

The head began gravely. He intoned ”there is a prima facie case that you are incapable. Do you wish to challenge the document?”

”Oh yes” said Sean with relish. ”I will fight every single word of it.” He exaggerated only a little.

The head’s heart visibly sank. This was going to be more onerous and time consuming than he had hoped.

”So you need a prepare a document arguing your case.”

”But how has he got time to do that and teach?” said Mrs Curtis.

She succeeded in having the hearing delayed.

Sean then asked questions. ”Do you want me to leave?”

”You mean just now?”

”Yes today”

”No. We have had that before so no” He was alluding to the GRIFFIN.

”Would you give me a reference?”


”What is my chance of surviving this hearing as a percentage”

”That is imponderable.”

The head then used the word a fortiori. ”I do not know what that means” said Sean

”Even more strongly.” said the head.

It was advised by the deputy head not to go for an agreed reference. ”It jumps out at you.”

They went back to his classroom. The school stood on a hillside and there were numerous routes from one building of the complex to the next. ”I always find you should not lose altitutde” said Mrs Curtis as she led him along puffing.

They got to his classroom. ”So that was quite positive” said Mrs Curtis. ”You are much better than some people I have seen. In Maths we have had some PGCE candidates and we thought they were terrible so we just called it teaching practise. But our head of department is very different from yours. Talk about easy going.”

”Right. It is going to be difficult to prepare this document.”

”If you have a lesson coming up. If you feel you cannot do it just say. AFter a meeting like that it is entirely acceptable not to teach the lesson.”

”Yes, that is how I feel”. Sean did not feel too bad. In fact it was the clever lower sixth next. He somewhat liked them.

”Ok so ask Murphy if you can skip the lesson. In fact would you prefer if I asked.”

”Yes, sure.” said Sean. Anything to reduce his contact with Murphy.

She went two doors down and interceded with Murphy who immediately agreed.

Mrs Curtis then went off.

She came back a minute later ”He has agreed”

”Oh brilliant thanks”

This woman restored his faith in humanity. She then hurried off to ready herself for her next lesson.

Murphy then came along ”Hello Sean” he said tapping on the door. He wore a serpentine grin

”Hello” said Sean sitting at his desk. He did not rise.

”Yes, I can imagine after a meeting like that anyone would not feel able to do a lesson.”

Why was he pretending to be sympathetic? He had caused all this grief. He was despicable. Murphy could not be readily forgiven. These were not disdemeanours. Sean’s self esteem was strained.

Sean would have had to have been iron willed not to feel morose. What had he been doing? He had not been showing up with liquor on his breath.

Sean went home. That night in bed he felt deeply dispirited. He was feeling so low he had not had an erection in two days. Normally he dreamt of being festooned with beach babes. What had life come to? How had he fucked up so badly? Murphy rated him as dreadful. If this was so Murphy should have got rid of him already. His reference would be so bad that Sean would never get another teaching job again. What on earth would he do? Journalism? People need to do a Master’s in that these days. Then do an unpaid internship for a year to get a minimum wage job. If he wanted to be a journo he had better learn to live without eating. The Foreign Office? Fuck dull. He never wanted to do an office job. He knew he would crack an off colour joke and be sacked. What else did that leave? He could not do the Bar. He had failed a Master’s. He would fail at everything. He was never going to fail at anything because he was never going to try anything. He had been traumatised and put off for life. If he could not pass a shitty PGCE what chance did he have at at the Bar? It was hugely expensive and almost no one ended up making a living at it. Forget it. There was nothing else he would like to do. What would he do? He would go down to London and work in a pub. At least he would be in London. He liked pubs. What a total loser he was. He had had the best possible start in life and managed to balls it all up. He had taken the wrong decision every single time.  He had not applied to the college where his chaplain had arranged for him to be accepted. In the end he had been taken by another college anyway. He had gone on a gap year to a part of the world where it was impossible to score. He had done the wrong university subject. He had had the wrong attitude to studies. He had got aa 2;1. Not bad. He had chosen the wrong career. He had left a job he should have stayed in. He had had a girlfriend who loved him. Sex on tap was also a boon. He had been too immature to appreciate her. He had been unfaithful to her and now lost her forever. He pined for her every single day. If she walked in the door he would propose on the spot. It was poetic justice. He was greedy and he had lost everything. He had gone to the wrong university for his Master’s. He should have gone to Edinburgh where he would have passed. His mistake had been to go the very best university in the world where he failed. It had been such a pain in the arse spending a weekend filling in application forms for the Master’s. He would have been 30 000 pounds better off if he had never even tried. If only there was such as thing as a 3rd class degree for a Master’s. But not he ended up with precisely fuck all to show for his studies. Failure. There was only one world for failure and that is FAILURE. He was a failure and he could face it. He was not going to hide from it. He had then stupidly gone back into teaching. Failed the Master’s again. He should not have tried. He went against his supervisor’s advice first time. He went with it second time and still failed. Failed, failed failed. He had failed his driving licence thrice. Only one of these things had to go his way to make his life hugely better. The driving licence, the Master’s degree or the PGCE. As for the Master’s degree – those areshole could have passed him. No skin off their nose. They could have given it to him and told him to go away and never come back. He would have accepted that. He should have known. His worst thing as an undergraduate was his dissertation. He was fantastic at exams and bad at coursework. He was impatient. Do it fast get it finished. Why did it take others so long? Just get on and do it.

He was depressed. He was a total and utter loser. He was stressed out and loveless. Would he be better off dead. Should he end it all?

Sean had an devotion to History but not teaching. What would he do? Go to London. Do anything. Work in a pub. Not respectable but so what. He had certain skills such as an ability to speak to audiences and these were convertible to other careers. He did not bother to think of the down sides.

The next day he called his sister and explained the situation. Geraldine was a very competent teacher. ”You knew it was the wrong move for you” she said kindly. He had voiced grave doubts about the job. If only he had not got this one. The school that had invited him for an interview next was a Quaker place in Hertfordshire. Vegetarianism and no CCF. Not quite his bag but still it would have been close to London.

”I could resign but you said I need to stay a second year for some stability on my CV”

”Success for you at this stage means getting that PGCE and getting out” added Geraldine.

That Saturday down the pub Sean sat with two colleagues. One of them was the priest faced historian.

The geeky mathematician spoke as though academically ”I love it here. But if you are not happy then get out.” He did not look at Sean as he said this. Was this directed at him? This man was close to Murphy. Perhaps he was apprised of the situation.

The geek then chided Sean about bonking the GRIFFIN.

Sean spoke to Lisa about the situation and Alexandra. At breakfast he ate little since he was down in the dumps. She spoke to him supportively. ”They cannot get rid of you over a personality clash.”

Next day he said to Alexandra – ”I am 99% sure I will leave.”

”And the other 1%?”

”Fight on”

The trades union representative visited. He was a chubby old man who spoke slowly. This grandfatherly figure listened to him. Sean was tranquil. ”I think you are placid now because your mind is made up. There used to be this terrible bully of a head. I had people ringing me up from call boxes.”

The deputy head sent surreptitious messages via Mrs Curtis.

The final meeting was the day that the first half of term ended. Sean showed up in casuals. Why make an effort for these bastards. He happened to see Murphy in the staff room. Imagine that wanker coming in on a day like this. He wore a rank diamond pattern tank top. He was going for the bad taste prize.

Murphy greeted him very cheerily. This was when he was at his most dangerous. ”Where are you going for half term?”

”I am going to Italy”

”Don’t you have a sister there?’

”Cousin” he said. Sean regretted this. He should not tell Murphy anything. This faux bonhomie was nauseating.  Murphy knew why Sean was in.

He went into the meeting. Sean railed about ”lies made up by Miss Cavanagh”

He was also angry ”you are not in the situation”

He explained why he took the job. ”I was desperate so I took it. I am too isolated. That is not your fault. I am deeply unhappy and I want out.”

Sean then handwrote a one sentence letter of resignation.

Sean then happily set off to York by taxi. He took the train to Liverpool. From John Lennon Airport he flew to Pisa. He landed there late at night. He met a 50 something British couple in the car park. The little man was bald and had a soup strainer moustache over his beaver teeth. Sean said a few words of Italian to them. ”Do you speak Italian then?” said the man in a Lancastrian accent.

”Just a bit”

They got a bus into town. Sean wandered around and found a youth hostel on the edge of the city. He slept in a dorm. He wanted to find girls galore.



Sean flew back from Venice. He lodged with Kyrle in Marylebone. Then he got up early and took the train to Milton Keynes. From there a taxi conveyed him to Buckingham.

There were some useless lectures and fun discussions.

Sean liked being among decent people. There was a deputy head of a prep school among the students. He had taught for 15 years. What would a PGCE teach him that he did not know already? Just more pointless paperwork.

There was a 40 year old ex actress. She was a brunette milf.

There was an Indian woman with Ph D in chemistry

He recognised Alison Waite. Her father was an Anglican prelate and headmaster. She was slimmer than she had been at 16 but lost her joie de vivre. She was not hitched. What a pity.

There were two PE teachers who were profoundly bored by the lectures.

In the evenings he propped the bar up. There was a list of people banned from it. Mostly Arabs.

Sean chatted to a chunky Ukrainian girl. She was not on the PGCE course but doing a BA. ”The top universities in UK are Oxford, Cambridge and the Buckingham right?” said the undergraduate. Sean did not have the heart to tell her. He got her number. He later asked her out on a date to a pub appositely named the Whale. SHE declined to come

The PE boys said  ”were you chatting her up?”

”No” he was to embarrassed to speak the truth

”We saw you swapping numbers.”

There was a short grey haired man on the course. He was a Maths teacher and former army officer. When he was at Sandhurst one guy got engaged. He was going v well on the course so they decided to punish him. They got him so drunk on his stag that he passed out. They arranged for him to wake up naked in a military prison cell.

The man woke up and though ”what the fuck have I done?” He could not remember the night before. He summoned a guard over. ”What am I in for?”

”Sir, I have been ordered not to discuss charges before the court martial”. He was petrified

Then he heard the clanking of army boots. His escort to the court? But it was the base commander with a bottle of champagne. It had all been a practical joke.

Sean had to return to Amblefifth. He got out of the train at York. As the taxi accelerated away from the station he felt depressed. He was still bothered about succeeding in his PGCE.



His parents were in Australia. Sean had applied for some jobs. He felt a lot better as he knew he was leaving. However many classes were still a struggle. Many of the thick lower sixth remained recalcitrant, unaccountable conceited, willful, obstreperous and odious. It was a running battle with them.

One evening Sean was in Lisa’s place socialising with some pals. His mother called him/ She was chipper

”So have you any news?”

”I have applied for a few jobs”

”What?” she said

”I am leaving at the end of the year”

”What? Can you withdraw your resignation”

”Of course not.”

”I told you to stay until they make you headmaster’

”I hate it hear.”

”You have to stay”

”I am miserable here and I am leaving”

”No you can’t she wailed” she was panicking. ”I am not taking this very well” she said

”I was having a nice evening with my friends. This phone call is the worst minute of my day” he said furiously. The line was cut off

Alexandra Bishop was on the far side of the room. She heard Sean’s irate tone. His mother was a worried and an idiot. She was an idler and a moaner. She was pathetic and long term unemployed. Some role model.



He could go somewhere that he could be happy as Larry..



JOE CAWLEY WAS a good egg. At first he would seem solemn. After a minute a slime would brighten across his pink face.



Down the Swan he met Jaap Bruning. This lanky Netherlander was in upper sixth

”In Holland the teachers say i do not care if you shoot heroin so long as you do not do it at school. Can I ask for an ashtray?”

Sean liked that way the boy asked obliquely. He said not. No need to curry favour with the pupils. Sean did not need more trouble from the authorities. If he was caught turning a blind eye to smoking this would have some bearing on how the head treated him for the next few months.



It was so dull that Sean was almost cataleptic.  What distemper made Murphy so fixated about minutiae?   Sean educed that Murphy had obsessive compulsive disorder. The man was driven by an insatiable desire to control, to monitor and to capture statistics.

”So let me tell you that grades need to be entered on time. My instructions must be followed to the letter. Let me lend some amplification to that point. Doing things on schedule is of the first import.” He pronounced schedule as ‘shed – you – ul’. Sean detested that pronunciation.

”You must do this on time. Let me lend point to my instruction. If you do not I shall take names!” as though that were  a dreadful punishment.

The inexpressible dreariness of Murphy’s drone would have driven lesser men to suicide. A dirge would have been more cheerful than Murphy banging on about target grades. The futility of the tasks that he allotted Murphy was most dispiriting.

The others were dismissed and Sean was kept behind. ”I shall have you know I am the head of department” he said in a bid to overawe Sean. He stared at Sean with fervid eyes.





About Calers

Born Belfast 1971. I read history at Edinburgh. I did a Master's at UCL. I have semi-libertarian right wing opinions. I am married with a daughter and a son. I am allergic to cats. I am the falling hope of the not so stern and somewhat bending Tories. I am a legal beagle rather than and eagle. Big up the Commonwealth of Nations.

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