Lights Out Ladies!

Follow one woman's tales from the staffroom of a quaint, newly co-educational, English boarding school in deepest, darkest Dorset. (*all names have been changed.)

Summer Term - Week 1

Posted by Lights Out Ladies
Lights Out Ladies
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on Sunday, 07 April 2013
My new Headmaster is standing next to me, wearing a candy-floss pink waistcoat coupled with a startling floral tie, introducing me to the Deputy Head of Co-Curricular, a small bald man holding half a biscuit, a smudge on his glasses. I can't hear what he is saying because I am still trying to work out what his job title actually involves, and whether my Headmaster's tie is worn in irony.

I'm not really sure how I have ended up here.

Last month I was bored and scanning The Lady in the little staffroom of Greycoats Comprehensive in South London. A 1,400 strong secondary school lagging in the league tables, constantly short of money for various building work, so much so that my classroom looked like a large portaloo on stilts.

Keith (IT) was holding court about his girlfriend (imaginary) and I was trying to block him out scanning the page of adverts whilst wondering what to teach Year 9 the period after break. I spilt some drops of coffee on the 'Jobs' Page and I noticed this quaint advert in the corner. A stock photograph of smiling happy, uniformed pupils taken against the most incredible backdrop. Fields of green stretching away, neat fluffs of little white clouds and then a gorgeous honey-coloured manor house, roses trained around the windows. Even the font was romantic, all swirly and enticing. I was transported instantly into the pages of a Mallory Towers novel, expecting a girl to appear in the window holding a pillow from a recent fight, or a group to run out from behind the building holding wooden lacrosse sticks.

"And then she said..."

Keith was still trying to share but with rampant enthusiasm I reached out, tore the corner of the page, hopped up and legged it to the computer in the corner of our ageing, browning staffroom. Post-it notes scattered the screen warning of future inspections, the extension number for the school nurse and a reasonably offensive picture of what I think was meant to be David Beckham. I logged on and started typing.

Three days later I had left the smog of London and was racing though the countryside on a train, feeling my lungs expand with every mile we passed. After a successful interview I handed in my notice and accepted maternity cover here, at Brockfield House to be a teacher/housemistress. A co-educational boarding school in Dorset numbering 450. I'd packed my life into boxes, announced it on Facebook (which made it real - 14 likes) and moved into a cottage in the school next to a meandering little stream.

And now I'm standing in this enormous staffroom being steered round by a man who looks like one quarter of a barber shop quartet. I feel afraid...


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