The week that was – snails and gems in the sludge

I couple of weeks ago, someone asked me one of those general, ‘how’s life?’ questions and I reflected that I couldn’t remember being happier in a job or having a more healthy, satisfying work-life balance. That, despite the challenges, I look forward to getting to work and am able to enjoy my weekends and my research.

(In retrospect, this reminded me a little of the time @helenskywalker and I wondered at home beautifully our children were playing in the garden before connecting the repeated CRUNCH sounds to the group massacre of a pile of snails…)

This week was always going to be a challenge.Screenshot 2016-03-25 10.27.05

It was one of those weeks which reminded me a little of my previous SLT role in terms of the level of business and the conflicting commitments which mean that, somehow, you’re always apologising to someone for something. No, PGCE student who has been amazing, I don’t have time to say goodbye properly. No, Year 7, I know I haven’t seen you all week… No, I know I’ve forgotten to nominate our stars of the term. Sorry – sorry – SORRY!

I conducted Year 11 speaking tests for the first time. Actually, once you make it to the exam room, they’re rather lovely things. I conducted three interviews on Monday. I find conducting interviews exhausting – somehow I live through it with the candidate. It’s fascinating (there’s a novel/film to be written there!) but SO intense. Actually, they were great candidates and we were smugly successful by the end of the day, with three happy candidates.

Tuesday, I had to steel myself for. Interviews for the post I’m doing now. It was always the deal. I’m not an English teacher. I’ve been leading an English department. I was ‘helping out’ on a temporary basis. I was even on the panel. Six interviews – and associated activities in a day (never do this -it’s a killer!). A successful day.

Apart from the bit at 7 a.m when I had to stop doing my ostrich lalala impression with my fumy, slight power-losing, juddery car of 2 weeks. Plumes of fumes started to come out of goodness knows where. From AND back, I suspect. Eventually, when I could no longer see anything (…), I phone my husband to check I wasn’t about to go up in a ball of flames. He suspected I probably wasn’t, so I made the rest of the (slightly embarrassingly) smoky journey to work, parked, and – like an sensible person would do – forgot about it.

And the bit when my husband dashed to Brussels for his journalistic coverage of the latest ISIS attack and I had to call on my invaluable, stalwart army of extra childcare.

Post-interview process, after 6 p.m, the challenge of finding a garage in the back-streets of a North London borough. Car drama of three days begins. I’ll spare you the details… but the outcome was that, after much tinkering with parts, many (literal) false starts to get it home, a substantial fee, and some interesting and excruciatingly expensive cab-journeys, it is officially a write-off thanks to a bust head-gasket. A 24 miles from home write-off…

Amidst all of this, a myriad of issues to deal with and, because of my new research, a steady stream of articles about teachers fed-up, angry and exhausted, culminating in a disillusioned and impassioned blog from one of my biggest educational heroes this morning. My deep concern for the profession I love is building by the day.

But I managed not to miss a beat at work. I even managed lunch. Once. As I stood in the rain two hours late for our house-guest of the weekend waiting for an Uber that appeared to be singularly incapable of finding me whilst my husband, on 2 hours’ sleep in three days, sought food to fill our empty fridge (but for the mouldy and out-of-date bits) and our house-guest waiting patiently alone in our house, the phrase FML sprung to mind.

But then, but then… I got home and had a bath. We got a takeaway and had some wine. I had a lie-in this morning. We have sorted a hire-car. And I feel a bit as if I’ve gone through a stress-barrier and come out of the other side.

No one has died. Not even a snail. And the gems in the sludge of the week read a bit as follows:

  • This, to say thanks to all the kids at my children’s school from a parent of a child with Down’s Syndrome

Screenshot 2016-03-25 10.25.45

  • The thoughtfulness of two colleagues in particular who took the time to make me feel valued and recognise that interviewing for my own post was hard…
  • The time taken by my line-manager on her hellish Thursday to listen to my slightly petulant, ‘What about ME?’ and remind me firmly and kindly that I have options – many options – and need to take ownership of them.
  • Because I didn’t have time to say goodbye to her, my NQT came to find ME, with a lovely gift and a card I plan to keep on my desk forever.IMG_0991
  • My friend @helenskyoconner making me literally CACKLE on two occasions. Cackling with a good friend is the BEST medicine.
  • My Year 7s cheering and telling me they missed them when I caught up with them for the first time this week.
  • My friend Clare providing my kids with second-to-none childcare, fresh food, baths and love in the hours I couldn’t be there.
  • Some AMAZING speaking exams from our students which have left me eager to go off and research a whole array of new subjects.
  • A husband home safe and sound to help me sort out the car mess and listen to me endlessly try to figure out whether I’ve been done by cowboys like a mug and persuade me to move on.


It’s just a car. The snails are at peace in the garden. And I’ve just had another unsolicited big cuddle from my wobbly-toothed six year old. I’m on holiday. The gems outweigh the sludge.

Happy Easter.

3 thoughts on “The week that was – snails and gems in the sludge

  1. Pingback: The week that was – snails and gems in the sludge | The Echo Chamber

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