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I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Thursday 3 May 2012

Teach...your children well....

......remember the song? OK, if you`re too young, you might have seen it on the BBC`s `70s series. Appropriate really, as there`s been a fair bit in the press about what makes a good teacher,and about getting more students to become one. Even encouraging more sixth formers to go into schools, and see what it`s like on the other side of the desk.

I guess you`d be more inclined to consider it as a career if you`ve got happy memories about the staff in your school. Happiest days of your life? Well they can be. But a `bad` teacher can knock your confidence for life, too, can`t they?

Years ago Dad used to talk about getting the `strap` across his hand for misdemeanours as a young pupil in Musselburgh. He could still recall the sting of the leather across his outstretched palm. That`s what you did with `unruly` pupils in those days.

In my first term at infants` school in Ealing, I remember being made to stand in a corner for half an hour with my back to the class. The heinous crime that I`d committed was `swishing my hands across the desk`, and then trying to make my best friend Rosalyn do the same. I was four, but even then, I knew it was a fair cop, and served my time with not even a glance over my shoulder.

I might have hated Mrs Jeffries for life after that, but she made me Mary in the school nativity that year, and I got to ride on a push along donkey with a cushion up my dress.

Years later in Kent, I can remember English teachers in my secondary school inspiring me with their encouraging words in the margins of my exercise books. That always felt good. I loved English, and have Miss Rhys-Jones to thank for my pronounced pedantry over punctuation. (And alliteration; clearly.)

But I loathed my art teacher when she kept me back after class one day `for a word`. She studied me, from top to toe (yeah..I was pretty sure she didn`t want to paint me....)...taking in my unruly blonde hair, brightened only that weekend with a hefty application of Sun-In, the thick clumps of black mascara, and the glistening layer of roll on lip gloss (mint flavour). Down went her the standard issue green elasticated belt, hiding a waistband rolled over several times until the bottle green box pleats covered my arse but were way, way above my the chocolate brown platforms, exactly the same as my friend Carol`s (Freeman, Hardy, Willis) and defiantly three inches higher than school rules permitted.

`I suppose you think you`re rather glamorous` she hissed.`But you`re in the fifth year.Not a fashion parade.`

 The thing was... I did feel fairly glamorous. We all did.We were fifteen, and spent at least half an hour plastering that stuff on before school. And it was an all girls`school too.

But another part of being a glamorous fifteen year old then, was smoking. At least we thought so.You couldn`t do it at home. It was tricky on the bus, in case your mum`s friend saw you. You could sometimes get away with it down at the Wimpy. But if you tried it in the school grounds, it meant immediate, non negotiable expulsion.

I hated tennis, so I took the risk, and happily signed up to the practice of `whacking the buggers as hard as you can into the woods`. Only a select few knew about this. And once enough tennis balls had been `whacked into the woods`...someone had to go and retrieve them. And because it was the `woods` and no-one apart from us knew what might be lurking there, we were allowed to take a friend. And she usually dragged a friend along too. (Safety in numbers).

What was lurking there ...stuffed in a Woolworth`s carrier bag, at the end of a large log, deep in the undergrowth, and worth the nettle stings and bramble scratches to reach them, was one glorious packet of More Menthol, and a box of matches. And their presence meant that at least four of us, in the course of double tennis, got to have a smoke. We chose menthol to hide the nicotine smell, of course, but I`m sure Miss P knew what we were up to. If she`d reported us, we`d have been marched off the premises. I always assumed even to this day, that she took pity on us because she smoked like a trooper herself .

But I`ve just realised she probably let us go because we were so completely crap at tennis.

Anyway. No detentions. No expulsions. Thanks, Miss.

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