Teacher, Leave them Kid Gloves Alone


Education is a word which inspires different memories in all of us. To some it is the first thrill of discipline by a borderline psychotic housemaster. To others it is a sticky moment shared with a mature lady in a seaside town, or how you felt when you first backed the winning dog. Fond, character building moments which made us the men and women we are today.

Dwindling funds and the unfortunate survival of a close relative first drove me into the teaching profession. I looked forward to a little reading, pipe-smoking and cycling along riverbanks with a loud hailer. As luck would have it, I bumped into an old friend in a Territorial Army mess, where the conversation turned to the recent spate of teenage stabbings. I spoke vociferously about the need to tackle pupil discipline and for teachers to be armed. After all, if Dirty Harry were your teacher, would you mess around? Derek seemed impressed with my arguments and offered to put in a word for me at Saint Ethelred's Secondary School, where I was duly offered a post teaching my first love, Geography.

For my first day I decided to set the tone with a medium weight Rhiconich tweed jacket accompanied by a simple linen shirt, a "highland heather" waistcoat and tartan twills. I swung the same battered despatch case and hockey stick carried my great-great-great uncle Ivan at the Siege of Sevastopol. I felt that this dress would "set out my stall", immediately conveying to both employer and pupils the arrival of a man of substance. However, the downside to this was that I arrived very late, just in time for lunch.

For my first lesson, I was to be observed by one of the in-house Gestapo, but fortunately I had come prepared. "Thwarted, Fritz!" I thought, as I pulled out my worksheet asking the pupils to write a letter to a favourite aunt about a geographical feature of their choice. However I had underestimated my foe. The slack-chinned quisling insisted that I cover the "national curriculum lesson objectives" and "successful completion criteria". "National what?" I exclaimed, desperately looking for the chalk. As you may imagine, sorting out all this red tape took the rest of the double period, at the end of which my authority had been bluntly questioned by some impertinent whippersnappers. I stumbled away from this dystopian nightmare, shakily lighting a pipe and thereby creating a furore in the staff room not seen since the storming of the Bastille.

I was clearly too much of a free-thinker for St. Ethelred's so, having let down the tyres of the headmaster, I left. Disillusioned and depressed, I drifted and was working as an estate agent when my life was turned upside down yet again. I was sitting behind my desk in the Pimlico office, polishing my cufflinks and practicing my firm handshake on the firm's rubber hand. I heard a faint creak, then a moan. The lights flickered and a dog barked. Suddenly the door was flung open and in strode an elderly orange man with a huge bushy beard. Naked save for a mortar board, his modesty was only preserved by his enormous paunch. Under his left arm he carried a cricket bat.
"Wh-Wh-Who are you?" I stammered, backing into a corner.

"I am from the other side," he replied.

"F-F-F- Foxtons?"

"Nincompoop!" he roared, "I am Pedagoogly, god of education and cricket. Whyfore have you deserted your calling? You must redeem yourself or be Ofsteded for all eternity!"

Well, that tore it! Old Pedagoogly had well and truly hit me for six and I felt a perfect ass for having doubted myself. I paused, then with a smile removed my shiny suit jacket and turned it inside out to reveal...Rhiconich tweed with elbow patches!

Since this defining moment I have never looked back, founding the Phileas Fogg School for Amateur Balloonists in 2004 and ditching all bureaucratic "sandbags" into the proverbial pond. We offer courses in clothing appreciation, cocktail-mixing, portrait sitting, seduction, safe-cracking and derring-do. We believe passionately in the positive effects of sport and were delighted to welcome Leslie Philips onto our staff earlier this year as swingball coach. We offer bursaries to boys who show particular natural ability. Our distinguished alumni have included Orlando Bloom, Jack Osbourne and (as a mature student) Sir Salman Rushdie. Lightly shouldering the burden of all future hope for humanity, Phileas Fogg School carries on, doing its bit for the Tweed Revolution.