Diary of a schoolteacher: Thank God those long summer hols are finally over
It's great to be back at work! I take a deep breath and breathe in that unique cocktail of adolescent hormones, chip fat and urinal cakes that is the school smell -- oh baby, that feels real good!
No, I haven't gone mad, and yes, you might think that 10 weeks of paid vacation sounds like paradise but if you had the bad luck to be me, you'd change your mind.
The problems begin at home -- the site of my past three months of confinement.
Mrs Grade has never passed on an opportunity to hold forth on how teachers are given too much free time over the summer.
I think she feels threatened by my innate air of authority, honed over the years in the classroom, and the fact that those early days of the summer break present me with a chance to encourage our kids to get up and get out there and do stuff.
Stuff like swimming in the sea, walking in the mountains, cycling. Young man! Put away that iPhone and partake of the bounteous and beauteous free Apps waiting for you in Nature.
All I get from under their smelly duvets are their teenage snarls as they accuse me of unprovoked cruelty at the unreasonable hour of 11 in the morning!
That was just the tip of the iceberg. Lazy brats were on the internet until it got bright every morning and when I disconnected it they just hitched on to the neighbour's unsecured Wi-Fi.
By midsummer's day, I gave up on them. Then there was my brother -- call him F Grade.
A wealthy solicitor with fingers in real-estate and local council pies, F likes nothing better than lording it over me.
Listen to him: "Spare parts for my Porsche are so expensive, I should just buy an old Fiat like you."
"I love your house, it's so cosy."
This summer he offers me his holiday home in Donegal. "Just give me a call," he says.
Of course I fall into the trap and ask for a couple of days in June with my fellow educators Moobs and Finnegan.
F hesitates and says he'll get back to me when he has checked with his wife. No word for days, so I ring him again.
"No, I'm going there to go over a few Law Society reports."
Not so much as a "sorry" or "how about next week?" Instead he suggests a hotel in Bundoran.
I put in a request at the end of August -- this time for my family. His nephews and nieces. But it's the same again.
This time he has to wash the windows. He's playing a game. He's still making a fortune and running two luxury cars, while I can't afford to pay for a holiday this year because the Green Shirts in Government have slashed my pay. All because of gits like him!
Yes, it's so good to be back in a resentment-free environment where for 40 minutes I am the boss.