How not to make mistakes
Vol 3 - swimming
So far, I’m of the opinion that all of my mistakes have been my own fault whether through plain stupidity or otherwise and this one’s no different. It’s the second teaching one so happily we can get the t word out of the way early on.
Newly qualified in ‘special needs’ teaching and as daft as they come, I correctly believed that no-one would give me a proper job so put my name on the register for emergency cover. Amazingly, a couple of weeks later, I got a phone call from an actual head teacher. Mrs Bent was patient, encouraging - and desperate. Could I provide cover for two days? Thursday and Friday? Wow, you betchya!
“One more thing, don’t forget your swimming costume, dear.” She said.
“Ha! Cheers!” I joked back.
Tearing upstairs to prepare lesson plans, my heart beat excitedly - someone was actually going to let me into this profession. Unbelievable. Round about Wednesday teatime, I briefly considered Mrs Bent’s words before dismissing them – no, absolutely NONE of my teachers had ever showed up in a swimming costume even to help fill Blue Peter’s totaliser for Ethiopia, much less cast themselves into the water with us. Nah forget it, now to switch on the shiny new Hewlett Packard and start preparing lessons …
My arrival at Three Sister’s special school saw me more than excited, the thoughtful head had even allocated me my own parking space. “Good morning Wendy!” she beamed charitably, “got your costume?” What a sweetheart. “Ahaha, ‘fraid not, left it in Benidorm!” I winked back conspiratorially.
That morning, producing a good few gallons of adrenaline as, along with my temporary pupils, I attempted to ‘take charge’ of an army of professionals – physiotherapists, speech therapists, social workers and the like - fortunately much more at ease with their station than their ill prepared but fronting- it- out colleague. With a some sidelong glances and a few blind eyes turned, while struggling to maintain my credibility, I made it to the bell and tumbled into Mrs Bent on the corridor.
“Ah dear, there you are, took a bit of time but we’ve come up with one out of the lost property box, here you are,” she smiled benignly waving what looked like a small, dead shiny black pigeon, “the coach will be here for the baths after break!” I detected no hint of a glint in her knowing eyes.
A cold iron sliver of fear seized me as I examined the costume – age ten – it said on the frayed label. I don’t need to tell you that the journey to the local swimming baths found me with glazed eyes, silently working out the last time I’d picked up a razor – circa 1997 I calculated - and playing out the very public humiliation to come.
All too soon, I sidled out of my changing room, face burning, to an already wet audience of pupils and professionals, begging inwardly for extra arms and hands to cover my abundant lady-garden, crazed alfalfa sprouting generously either side of the teeny costume’s crotch, and my nipples, each painfully torn in two by the twin, thin unforgiving straps. Not to mention my bum …