Mrs Menopause took the register with all the enthusiasm of a beached whale. It was evident from her pleated grey skirt and sandals that this woman was no match for the cretinous parasites that are teenagers. Paul had already begun collecting bets on how long it would take to reduce her tears. I guessed ten minutes and threw a packet of chewing gum into the pot which now consisted of three cigarettes, a can of Red Bull, a Mars Bar, a half drunken bottle of Bacardi Breezer and a Durex condom. Fat Annie contemplated gambling her Greggs pasty but thought better of it.
Five minutes into the lesson, Mad Gazza was snoring face down on the desk, Dodgy Darren and Steve-The-Fannie-Basher were huddled round the latest edition of Tits ‘R Us and Mental Davey was sketching phallic shaped images into his geography text book. Every Monday morning I tell myself life could be worse; I could be dying of some chronic debilitating disease, I could be starving in a third world country, I could even be ginger. But all that seems bearable compared to the prospect of spending a full hour with Mrs Menopause, making notes on the formation of oxbow lakes or something equally pointless.
The whole class (with the exception of those unconscious or engrossed in pornography) was abuzz with the news of Miss Harris’ shock return to St Barnaby’s. Although none of us had personally met Miss Harris (more commonly referred to as ‘Hitler’, ‘the Fuhrer’, or just simply ‘that sadistic bitch who ruined my life’), it was rumoured that she once tried to make ‘dwarf tossing’ a compulsory aspect of physical education and reduced several year sevens to a nervous breakdown after repeatedly threatening to ‘cut off their testicles and feed them to her Rottweiler Tinkerbelle’ if they ever dared forget their homework.
‘I’m going to get Vicky back for what she’s done to me,’ Annie said through mouthfuls of peanut M&Ms, ‘I’m not going to stand for any more of her crap this year.’
‘Yes you will,’ I whispered, dodging a paper aeroplane launched from the chav region of the classroom, ‘unless you wan to die a long slow painful death at the hands of one of her Umpa Lumpas.’
‘Lizzy’s right,’ said Paul, ‘we’ve just got to lie down and take it. Standing up to her will only make it worse, look at what happened to Hairy-Legs-Sally.’
Mrs Menopause suddenly sprang from her seat after being hit by a third consecutive paper aeroplane.
‘Darren Palmer, get out of my class, you insolent little shit, while I think of a punishment for you that is as agonisingly painful as the law allows me to give!’
‘Well, aye, go sort your life out, you stupid cow!’ said Dodgy Darren, swaggering out of the classroom, still utterly engrossed in Tits’R Us.
Darren Palmer is a perfect example of why child beating should be re-legalised in schools. We were now twenty minutes into the lesson and I’d lost the bet. Not that half a bottle of Bacardi Breazer and a Durex condom was a particularly appealing prize. Paul and Annie had now completely abandoned the riveting task of making notes about oxbow lakes and were in intensive discussion about other sex lives of year eleven.
‘Well I heard that Lucy-No-Knickers has been doing Mr Elliot.’
‘O to the M to the F to the G,’ said Paul, typing erratically into his Blackberry, ‘no wonder she’s been getting A’s in music. Must put this on Facebook.’
It seems as if everyone has been losing their ‘V’ plate in year eleven. Stacey lost it with Mental Davey in the PE changing rooms, Karen lost it with Spotty Ryan in the alley behind Poundland and even Macey Hunter-The-Thirty-Stone-Munter claims to have done it in a slide with the fat lifeguard from Water World which, with their combined BMI, must have been gravitationally challenging if not impossible.
It was almost break time. Mrs Menopause had endured a full forty five minutes of teaching without so much as punching a student – a personal best. Each strike of the clock brought me one minute closer to Vicky. It seems as if the entire duration of my education has been spent squeezing in and out of cleaning closets and crouching under tables. Today’s place of refuge would be the school library: an area isolated enough to avoid full blown public humiliation but still with the security of a librarian who could bear witness if Vicky decides to go the whole hog and murder me. At least if she beats me up in there she could get herself an education.
Mrs Menopause’s patience was skating on thin ice which in turn was balancing on a rather rickety tightrope. The seventh paper aeroplane seemed to be the tip of a very large iceberg. It glided through the classroom and collided with exquisite accuracy into the centre of her forehead. The plane acted as a flame would when igniting with dynamite. Mrs Menopause leapt into the air with a speed that sent her chair toppling to the floor. Her words jumbled themselves into an incoherent shriek which, if translated into English, would probably mean: ‘I fucking hate children!’ At forty seven minutes and fifteen seconds exactly, Mrs Menopause exited the classroom in tearful hysterics.
Paul clicked the stop watch to a halt and announced that Mad Gazza was the winner of the bet.
‘Get in!’ said Gazza, holding up the Durex condom as an Olympian holds a gold medal.
The whole class scrabbled from their chairs but came to an abrupt stop at the open door.
‘What exactly do you think you’re doing, leaving the classroom without the permission of a teacher?’
The source of the voice was concealed by the crowd. The voice seemed soft and detached from all emotion. The speaker stressed every syllable she spoke.
‘Do you think it is acceptable to leave the classroom without the permission of a teacher?’
The crowd remained silent.
‘Well? Are you all brain dead? Surely even children of your astounding levels of stupidity are able to answer a simple question? When I ask a question, I demand an answer.’
The crowd parted into two. Hitler marched into the classroom wearing a tight black pencil skirt and stilettos. Her red lipstick was applied perfectly. Her dark hair curled to an elegant stop at her shoulders.
‘Fat child,’ said Hitler, beckoning Annie closer with a manicured finger nail, ‘do you believe it is acceptable to leave the classroom without the permission of a teacher?’
Annie stared at Hitler open mouthed. Her lips parted but no audible sound left them.
‘Well, fat child?’ Hitler hissed, ‘are you incapable of speech? Is your brain as deprived as the council estate from which you originate?’
‘Erm… I… I don’t think…’ Annie stuttered.
‘And what about you, ginger child?’ Hitler turned to ginger Sam who stood quivering by the open door. ‘Do you believe it’s acceptable to leave a classroom without a teacher’s permission? Or are you too mentally challenged like the fat girl?’
‘No, it’s not acceptable, miss.’
‘Correct, ginger child’, said Hitler, her voice menacingly soft. ‘It is not remotely acceptable. It is pure insolence. Return to your seats, all of you. If I catch anyone trying to leave the classroom before being dismissed by a teacher it will be the biggest mistake of your lives.’
Hitler headed for the door.
‘I will see you all in detention.’
I listened as the steady tapping of Hitler’s stilettos against the floorboards grew fainter. We sat unmoving for the next ten minutes. When Mrs Menopause returned we filed out of the classroom in silence.
Despite the unbearable monotony of Mrs Menopause’s geography lessons, it’s at break time when the real horror ensues. I saw her face on every girl I passed in the corridor. I heard her mocking laugh in every conversation. I walked into the school yard, into the open air and into the mercy of Vicky.
To be continued…