Those were the days Part 17


Teacher Vices

Staff smoked in the staff room when I first started. When the smoking legislation came in and things tightened up my erstwhile mentor (Richard Michaels) would have a snout in my lab under the fume cupboard hood, whilst sat on a student stool. This saved the hassle of trapsing off to the smoking room.

Staff went to the pub at lunch. Some went every day – no joke! It was the norm for these teachers to have a liquid lunch. Mind you, lunch was an hour long break then, not these modern 40 minute “lunch hours”. In fact the local boozer used to take the TES on a Friday along with the regular order of tabloids for customers to read, as so many of us went down there on that day.

There was also an elite drinking fraternity, which was an off-shoot of the tea-club (see previous posts). “The 335 club” was as the name suggested based on a time of day when members had to be in the Black Bull by. This was the only rule of the 335 club. The “Bull” suffered at least one suspicious fire and had its windows shot out by one disgruntled patron. It has now become run down, but is still being used as a film set!

Back to the booze……..We used to knock back a wine box at every Science Department meeting, regular. The booze and nibbles were supplied by our HOD, who would always bring a decent red and high end bar snacks. Wine was also served with a hot meal on all INSET days and some of the hard core drinkers would regard it as a personal challenge to make sure the wine was all consumed before going back to their work, even if it meant minesweeping the unfinished bottles from other tables.

Smoking Room

When I first started teaching the smoking regulations had yet to be introduced and staff were allowed to smoke in the staff room. Members of the tea-club would not think twice about smoking in the workshop where the club members met. When smoking in the workplace became more restricted a smoking room was set up. This room changed location over the years. It eventually ended up being put in the office space between two mobile class rooms. This mobile hut sat in one of the school carparks detached from the rest of the school. The smokers were a tight bunch who always made the room as homely as possible. It had a TV, fridge and microwave and some comfy chairs to sit in.

One day a Year 11 class was waiting for a cover teacher to turn up for their lesson in one of the classrooms next to the smoking room. The teacher had not arrived and the hut was empty so the class let themselves in. After 10 minutes or so an impromptu game of football broke out amongst some of the lads who were clearly getting bored. Things got more organised, chairs and desks were cleared and the boys started playing “headers and volleys” using the whiteboard as the goal. One stray shot got belted too hard and it burst a hole in the flimsy plywood wall between the smoking room and the classroom. A head got poked in by a student to investigate, the hole was made bigger and a lad shoved through to open up. By the time a teacher eventually got there the tea had been brewed, the fridge had been raided and the fags had been smoked!

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