Diary of a schoolteacher: How I pined for my field trip with Miss Gossard. . .
It's finally the morning after I've spent half the night coughing.
My pillow is wet where the constant stream of water has run non-stop on to it from my nose and, as I slide from the bed and stagger towards the bathroom, I realise that I'm not going to make it to the school today.
Staring at my blotchy eyes in the mirror, all that important homework that I piled on to my pupils yesterday pops up in my mind, like one of those irritating dialogues boxes that appear on your computer screen.
It's reminding me that a goodly number of the fifth and sixth years will have skipped it because of the debs in the rival school at the other side of the town last night and that they were all warned by the deputy principal that they had to come in, or else face detention.
If I stay at home I'll have to forgo the satisfaction of whipping out my trusty red pen and vigorously writing up their journals with outraged reports and extra work, on top of the homework they missed.
Then there's the second year subject teachers' meeting -- I was looking forward to joining forces with my colleague, the acidic Mr Prince, and rounding on Jason O'Braght, the vicious little monster, to push for his suspension.
After all, only yesterday he had told us both to "f*** off" in front of his class.
Who's going to deal with this vital stuff ?
My nose is now dripping again and I'm sweating like a Dip student in front of a learning support class.
As I lie back on my bed I realise that, no, I won't be enjoying either of those treats or, indeed, the potentially most rewarding of all, that field trip with a small group of geography students along the canal side in the company of the lovely Miss Gossard.
The plan had been to send the kids off home when it's all over, casually propose a drink in the pub and the guys stuck in the fuggy staff room and in front of those unforgiving classes will be apoplectic with envy when they get my text.
I spend an hour or two trying to sleep off the cold but when I wake up I'm keen to keep my mind occupied so I decide to use my time constructively by correcting copies.
I'm already fighting a temperature and reading Amy Fingerton's 'essay' entitled 'The Meuse coalfields' doesn't help. She writes, "coal is nasty dirty stuff but it's great for keeping you warm . . ."
In despair I switch subjects. "What were the followers of Jesus called?" Answer: "The Gestapo." Who wrote this? Jason O'Braght again.
Problem is that both he and Amy would believe these are good and correct answers. No kidding and, no, I'm not making this up.
I'm now worried that none of them will learn a thing without me there.
At 4 o'clock, I finally switch on my mobile. No calls, no messages. Nobody even noticed that I wasn't in!