A special needs teaching colleague's retirement do last week. Just try to stop teachers talking. One of the older staff tells us she'd once taught in Coleford, where the children in her class shared just three surnames. Aunts, nieces and nephews all behind the desk. Some of the children were still at mother's breast - at 12 and 13.
Another teacher said she'd done supply work (commuting from refined Cheltenham) in another place in the Forest. Two huge mothers stood at the school door like (or as) bouncers. Inside, there were four adults in charge of a class of 18 children, the air nevertheless thick with missiles etc.
My old financial services boss had previously been a headteacher in Dean. His 60th birthday celebration was held in the Speech House in Coleford. He recalled that when he'd first arrived as a class teacher, his head had asked him how he was getting on with the children "I can't hear what they are saying," he replied; the first sign of the partial hearing loss (owing to noisy early-generation computer printers in the ICT suite where he taught) that eventually got him his early retirement with enhancement. Later, supplied with a hearing aid, he told the head, "I can hear them now, but I can't understand what they're saying" (he was from Lancashire). Later still, he told the head, "I can hear them now, and I can understand them now; but I don't like what they're saying."