The bell for period two marked the beginning of another torturous, nausea-inducing, hour-long roll call relentlessly punctuated by carefree chatter, derisive sniggering and banshee-like wailing from me, just before another little gremlin was booted out, usually to a chorus of uncontrollable laughter from the remaining kids in the class. One could only describe it as a nightmare. The little so-and-sos were terrorizing me, and, to make matters worse, I still had another four lessons to go until the end of the school day!
As this second 'near-death' experience approached its end, I, for the very first time, met a pupil that I will only refer to - shaking, sweating and bottom lip quivering - as Nemesis. I was to spend the next three years chasing this tubby, grubby-looking Year 8 lad, and, for all that time, he only attended, say, three or four of my detentions, despite being a serial miscreant both in out of the classroom. For those of you old enough to remember, our relationship was a bit like Danny and Mr Bronson's in Grange Hill: Nemesis forever bursting through double doors as I angrily charged after him, demanding, to no avail, his unqualified obeisance.
Anyway, as you may have guessed, our first meeting was not an auspicious one. He had obviously been thrown out of another lesson, appeared at my door - probably attracted by the general sound of boisterous raucity that signalled, in his predatory, puerile mind, the possibility of anarchy-inspired fun to be had at the expense of a teacher's sanity -, opened it and shouted, 'Wanker!' - an accurate epithet perhaps, but one a tad inappropriate within a school setting, I thought.
'Get out!' I shouted, flustered and sweating, before attempting to close the door.
'Make me!' he goaded, placing his foot in the way.
I shouted again in a desperate effort to move him, but this just encouraged further scorn and anger. I had nowhere to go. I obviously couldn't physically remove him; neither could I back down without losing face. 'My dad's gonna kill ya!' he yelled.
'You're in detention!' I screamed back.
'Fuck off!' he retorted.
Thankfully, though, after being subjected to my very first, but certainly not my last, verbal attack, which lasted for several minutes, I was literally saved by the bell. It was first break. Nemesis immediately ceased his verbal offensive, desperate to stuff his chubby chops with crisps and chocolate, and, along with the remaining members of the class, raucously ran along the corridor, down the stairs that I had so tentatively climbed earlier and towards the playground - without, of course, being formally dismissed. I sat down, exhausted, and breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Alas, my early torment was not yet over, though. Before I had the chance to gather my thoughts, I was summoned for break duty along the bottom corridor.