Saturday, 12 November 2011

Plans for Christmas

Miss Snippet had her head in her hands, her elbows on her desk, and was trying hard not to cry.  She heard the classroom door open and the swooshing noise of the caretaker's mop bucket, but she didn't look up.  Lupo, the caretaker that the Headmaster had found on a geography fieldtrip and brought back (possibly illegally) barely spoke English and appeared to regard the teaching staff with contempt.  Not entirely unlike the Headmaster.
"Are you alright?"
Miss Snippet sat bolt upright, her hands slapping down on the desk and her fingers scrabbling for her red pen.  That voice belonged to Miss Devonport, the teacher in charge of religious education and the closest thing Miss Snippet had to a friend at the school.  She certainly wasn't anyone Miss Snippet wanted to show weakness in front of.
"I'm fine," she said automatically, then realised that Miss Devonport must have come in with Lupo.  "Well, I have a headache.  I don't really think I should drive home with it, so I was waiting here for it to subside a little."
"Oh, tell me about headaches!" said Miss Devonport.  She pulled a student's chair out from a desk and sat on the desk; the chair was far too small for her.  "I just finished marking essays, and one of them finished with It's not Christmas until everyone's dead.  It's just so depressing!"
"Well, Christmas can be quite depressing," said Miss Snippet wondering what the rest of the essay must have been like.
"No!  Christmas is a spiritual holiday!"
"As in, a time when the spirit goes on holiday leaving the body behind to behave abominably to our relatives?"
Miss Devonport glared at her, and Miss Snippet subsided a little.  "No.  And I meant that the essay was depressing.  How little our students respect tradition and festival.  I'm going to talk to the Headmaster and see if we can't have a little festival of our own this year."
"You can't go bringing religion alive like that!" Miss Snippet, whose enterprising conversion of her students into brickies and navvies had lead to an investigation by the Local Education Authority, disliked the idea of someone else getting away with it.
"I'm not suggesting we have a Virgin birth," said Miss Devonport, tittering a little and trying to hide it behind a hand.
"Have you seen the sixth form girls?"
"You're always so cynical, Hattie," said Miss Devonport.  "No, I thought we could do something for Yule; that's practically like Halloween these days."
"As in, it involves big fires, rich foods, and attempts to placate angry ghosts?"
"Well... yes, I suppose so.  If that's what sells it."
Miss Snippet looked surprised, having expected another telling off from Miss Devonport.
"That sounds like it could be fun," she said, thinking of her own angry ghosts.  "Some of the boys in my class were doing rather well with the labouring, I think we could easily teach them lumberjacking and find ourselves a Yule log."
"I thought you weren't allowed to do anything like that again?  That Inspector seemed very... masculine, for a woman.  I was quite scared of her."
"I'm not allowed to get caught doing anything like that again," said Miss Snippet.  The Inspector had been her sister.  "But we can hide this as a joint class project."
"Oh!  Oh well, let's do that then.  I'll talk to the Headmaster in the morning!"
"Oh good," said Miss Snippet, watching as Miss Devonport actually skipped out of the room.  Then she put her head back in her hands, her elbows back on her desk, and tried to remember where in her litany of despair she'd gotten to.  She was interrupted by Lupo poking her with a mop.
"Go 'ome," he said, poking her again to emphasize his words.  "You making classroom untidy."

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