It’s Entirely Secretarial

Today was better.

Better than the rest of the week, which mainly consisted of a long line of Mondays all lining up to wee on my head.

Better is not great. Let’s not get too enthused here. I’m not Gene Kelly, singin’ and doin splashy dancin’ whilst a bit of free style twirlin’ goes on.

And a lot of ‘g’s’ get washed down the drain.

I am merely slightly less insane than all the other days that have gone to constitute a week in my life.

I have been impersonating an efficient person today.

Today, and for the duration of next week I am being the school secretary.  Our current school secretary has had the gall to go on a luxury holiday in the sun, just because she has been married to the same person for forty years.

This will never happen to me.  Jason and I have only been married for six years. By the time our forty years is up I’ll be lucky if we get to sit on the same Stannah Stair lift, let alone a plane together.

We may be sharing a grave plot, frankly.

Which might be romantic – and then again, it might be a bit loamy and put a crimp in our future travel plans.

Who knows, at this point?

While she is celebrating the ongoing nature of conjugal bliss, I am left behind, scratching my ear, looking vague and wild, and failing to add up columns of random change that parents thrust into my hands trusting that I know what the hell I am doing with them.

School finances are complex.

Today was chip day.  This is bad.

Chip day is only on Fridays. The rest of the week the children have to eat real food. Friday’s is their day off from health. Consequently it is the most popular day of the week to have a hot dinner, and we are inundated with hot, sweaty handfuls of coins on a Friday morning, all of which have to be sorted, counted and allocated to the right people.

Today was also the Year Six bake sale after our achievement assembly.  This is bad.

Parents come in clutching bank notes saying things like: ‘Can you swap me this for some change because Jacinta, Elvis, Percy and Minerva all need money for cakes and I’ve only got Latvian Zloty’s – and can you take out last week’s swimming money?’

Which is fine. I do it myself.  I am, after all, a parent. It’s just interesting to be on the receiving end of it all.

Today I also collected money for synagogue trips, trips to the pantomime, school disco ticket money, toast money (break times), residential trip money, and money for the football club.

All of this has to be separated, counted, balanced, logged and banked.

Soon we may be collecting for my stay in a nice residential unit where they will let me do basket weaving and looking at fish.

While you are doing all this counting, the phone rings endlessly, as parents ring you up to tell you that Cedric won’t be in today because he licked the cat last night and now he’s got ebola, or to tell you that Fenella forgot her sandwiches, which are currently on the draining board, so can you give her a hot dinner and I’ll give you the money in Zambian Swats three weeks next Thursday?

And so you lose count.

Then there are the calls from people trying to sell you fifty tonnes of rock salt, or a full scale pygmy warrior treehouse kit for your early years unit and who won’t take no for an answer and you either have to bang the receiver on the desk and shout ‘I’m sorry, the reception is very bad. I’ll have to call you back,’ or pretend to write down everything they’re saying whilst trying simultaneously to count out forty lots of disco money and cutting your own throat with a spoon.

And then you lose count.

And then you get calls from people who are from cryptic departments deep in the bowels of County Hall and who are all linked to ‘Educayshun’ in some arcane way, and who expect you to be someone competent, so they launch into things like: ‘It’s Zara from S.P.L.O.T.  I’ve got form 46Z that you sent last week, but there’s a glitch in paragraph three which means the FBW system has gone SNAFU and I wondered if you could just run a quick SPLUNGE on the system and see what it throws up?’

And I say: ‘But I’m only a librarian’.

And they say: ‘Oh’.

And I say: ‘The secretary has run away to a tropical paradise.’

And they say: ‘Oh’

And I say: ‘Shall I try turning it off and on again?’

And so it goes.

And while it goes, there are the actual, real, live children who come in to jam the photocopier and ask you why it hasn’t come out full colour and double sided with stapling in it, and what happens if you press that bit there?

Or to tell you that Seraphim and Cherubim have beaten each other to death with a chair leg in the corridor, and what should they do?

Or that someone has nits, or been sick, or that their nits have been sick, and what should they do?

And all of life comes and goes, as you sit, with your margarine tubs full of coins, counting and counting, and feeling a bit like Canute failing to stop the tide.

And that’s before you get to the letters, and the collating and the emails, and the milk collections, and the registers and the dinner lists and the toast lists and santa’s master list, and Hitler’s list of things to do to ensure world domination before he’s fifty, and every list you can possibly imagine.

And I’ve got help, because everyone is being nice to me and taking a little bit of the pressure off here, and there, and everywhere.

And it’s still all very secretarial.

But I wasn’t bored.

Which is good.

And phase one of root canal treatment went alright, and Tilly is more happy, and I didn’t kill the business studies teacher, who was one of the people who rang me today, and I cleaned my house, and have tomorrow’s dinner in the slow cooker…

And I didn’t cry once.

Which is why today was better than all the other days.



3 responses to “It’s Entirely Secretarial

  1. Bloody hell Katy, the school sure gets its money’s worth from you – which I assume is paid in Jammy Dodgers and rusted One-Arm Bandit tokens as you are not actually on the pay roll! My Mum worked as the senior school secretary at a large secondary establishment for many years, it’s a much harder job than it seems on the surface. Requires the patience of a saint and the skills of many!

    Next March BB and I clock up 40 years of wedded something or other, nobody has said anything to me about a luxury holiday, or even a weekend in a B&B. Should I be feeling aggrieved?

  2. I am sighing with satisfaction – what a gloriously funny and accurate picture of life in the bowels of the school office. Never worked in one – but boy, this is EXACTLY how I imagine it is. Choc full of trivia, and therefore more worth the commenting on.

  3. Sharon, I’m going to get paid for this stuff. Phew.

    I would feel aggrieved. I am feeling aggrieved and I haven’t even earned the right like you have!

    Thank you.x

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