Oh no! Vera's on the warpath again. She marches towards me, followed by one of her underlings and Alan, the porky, foul-mouthed miscreant I ejected earlier. The accompanying music to Darth Vader's rhythmical stride along the corridors of the Death Star springs to mind. Amusingly, Vera's job is to support my rather labour-intensive endeavours to control our young scholars. They are, shall we say, a little excitable.
'Why 'ave you thrown 'im out?!' she curtly asks. Before I have the chance to reply, Linda, another member of our pastoral support team and Vera's henchwoman, continues, in much the same tone as her intellectually challenged superior. 'Have ya bin fru da sanctions ladder?!'
'No 'e ain't!' the foul-mouthed miscreant screams. Unless I'm much mistaken, all three of them are ganging up on me. Before you ask - and just in case you think you've stumbled across a perverse, parallel universe where schools are run like tin pot banana republics - that's two of my colleagues who are, for all intents and purposes, meant to support me and one of my pupils who is, you know, meant to evince respect for my position as his teacher and elder - a strange alliance, no?
'Now call me old-fashioned, Vera, but isn't it your job to support me?' I enquire. She looks befuddled. 'This young man called me a 'prick'. Now perhaps I'm asking too much,' I continue, 'but doesn't that render the sanctions ladder, in this instance, redundant? Surely such abuse merits a bit more than a verbal warning. If not, then logically speaking, Vera,' I say in the most sarcastic tone I can conjure, 'that means I've got to wait for him to call me a prick on two more occasions before I can throw him out and call for help. Does that sound right to you?' She looks vacant, and so does Linda, her rather dim, mouth-breathing lackey.
But lest I forget, don't let this rude, inane, counter-productive and appalling behaviour fool you. According to Ofsted, these dilapidated, bomb-damaged old crones in our pastoral team are second-to-none, without parallel and unrivalled by any other bomb-damaged old crones in any other educational organisation when it comes to their 'unflinching commitment' to the care of our most vulnerable children.
Let's forget, for one second, the open hostility and unrestrained contempt they reserve for us teachers, not to mention their shameful propensity to undermine their colleagues at every given opportunity, they are, apparently, according to our great and wise arbiter of school standards, wonderful and worthy of inordinate levels of praise and unencumbered lionization. For another moment, let's also park their inability to construct an email or even oratorically express their thoughts, courtesy of their own lack of schooling and concomitant illiteracy. They are, after all, able to speak the same language as the kids, empathise with their socio-economic circumstances and, as a consequence, talk incalculable bucket-loads of sense into them.
In other words, according to the great, good and an Ofsted issued fatwa, it takes a tattooed, toothless, illiterate old relic who can't string a sentence together to access the hidden depths of a deprived, underprivileged child just because she lives in the same area and happens to have been, aeons ago, the parent of a teenager herself. Let's not concern ourselves with the example she sets, entrenching low standards through her woefully low expectations of the pupils under her tutelage. She's down with the kids. She has uncles who knew the Krays, too!
How depressing! The sad reality is that this gaggle of unhinged harridans, led by Vera and Linda, has done untold damage to the lives of our most needy kids.
They both stare blankly at my classroom door. Are they about to start licking it? I wonder. They then proceed to stubbornly ignore my protestations and change tack. 'He says he didn't call ya a prick. He called ya a cunt.'
'Oh! I am sorry,' I reply. 'That's much better. Look, Vera, whatever he called me, he's not stepping foot inside this class.' I am dumbstruck, mystified even. Vera turns around and, as she walks away, followed by the haggard old lickspittle and the porky, foul-mouthed miscreant, she offers a parting shot. 'Remember to write it up,' she growls.
It is fair to say that Linda and Vera are feared throughout the school - not by the kids, of course, but by us, the teaching staff. They are like the school's secret police, a Gestapoesque flock of vindictive, belligerent harridans, forever doing the malign bidding of their superiors in the senior leadership team. Our Dear Leader is indeed deeply hostile to the forced extraction of pupils from their lessons, no matter how rude they've been to the hapless, defenceless individuals trying to educate them. Our pastoral team simply enforces her will.
They've also been used to harry colleagues who have fallen foul of our Fuhrer's manic sensibilities. A friend and colleague watched in fear as Vera spat (no, you're not mistaken, though I did ask if my said colleague was sure. Did she not foam and dribble as a result of some regressive mental disorder instead? I asked) into her manager's tea after, allegedly, he began to question some financial irregularities in his departmental budget. Needless to say, he didn't stay very long. In fact, he was replaced by, surprise, surprise, Vera herself. Just last year I witnessed Linda laughing at CCTV footage that bore witness to a pupil assaulting another one of her colleagues. The colleague in question later resigned and suffered a nervous breakdown. These are truly awful, eminently detestable human beings.
But all this said, let us not lose sight of what really matters. Indeed, we should be rejoicing! Ofsted inspectors love them, after all!