Diary of a schoolteacher: Caught in a trap as my security man exerts a vice-like grip
One of our German teachers, Fergal Madden, has decided to bring forward the annual transition year trip to Germany so that the kids get to see the famous Christmas markets.
I successfully cadge a berth for myself on this year's foray to Hamburg, where in past years we had managed to arrange an exchange with a local school.
Obviously that was never going to last with this school.
Accompanying us two educators and this group of twenty pupils is the chairperson of the parents' committee, Mrs Sheila Keaveney, who also happens to be mother of evil genius, Dan Keaveney. How such a nice and normal woman could produce such a twisted little fiend is beyond me.
However, things get off to a promising start when the first evening we agree that Mrs Keaveney and Madden will take the big group of demanding girls to a Shopping Centre while I am given the less onerous task of keeping the five boys entertained-- including Dan who has been in Hamburg before on the last exchange and thus knows his way around.
Dan solemnly swears he'll guide and help me. Then imagine my disbelief when Dan happily falls into step with me behind his four pals as we head down to the port for a boat trip around the massive harbour and a closer look at the huge Disneyland cruise ship.
There's even better to come; when Dylan Hyland nips into Lidl for some toothpaste Dan drags him out after five minutes and pours the little sneak's half-drunk can of beer down a drain in front of me.
"Mr Madden will be hearing all about this if you pull a stunt like that once more," roars Dan.
I don't have to say a word. We have hardly turned the next corner when my new security man races ahead to catch up with his class mates and grabs a cigarette Hyland is about to light.
Again, the streets of Hamburg rings with a young man's indignant wrath.
Soon we reach a street blocked with a wooden fence and Hyland makes a dash through the gap.
"Get him out of there," I confidently command Dan. Dan nods and duly runs after him.
After five minutes I have no choice but to take the other two with me behind the fence because they haven't returned.
As it's so cold the street beyond is almost deserted so it's not long before I spot them at the far end -- talking through an open window behind which sits a very large breasted woman in a bikini!
In fact from every window in the street there are similarly attired and equipped young women waving and blowing kisses to me!
Dan wastes no time reassuring me that he was "just asking for directions". And then he adds: "Stunner, isn't she?"
As I usher them away and into safety he whispers to me, "Don't worry Sir, I won't be telling anyone you sent me down this street!"
You win this time Dan.