Making New Friends

By James, our supply teacher from London

I’ve heard it mentioned that the tougher the school the wilder the staff. The context for this particular mention was a social one. Well, last Friday I had my first opportunity to test that theory for my new school. It is certainly a tough school, not the toughest perhaps but I was preparing myself for an interesting evening at the very least. Notionally, we were all there for someone’s birthday. The fact that I had no idea who that was and was still none the wiser as I made my way home the following morning in something of a thick fug, from strange surroundings, speaks volumes.

It had started sensibly enough with a few of us sitting around a table in a bar in South West London ordering a selection of finger foods. The conversation was free and easy and the alcohol flowing. It was 7pm. Over the next couple of hours our numbers grew as we took over half of the restaurant area. Soon it was standing room only and I was happily and busily talking to people I’d never even set eyes on before but who had been teaching at the school far longer than I. Without realising it the clock had ticked past 11pm meaning I could now not make it home via public transport. Enough alcohol had been consumed by now for this to barely register on my conscience. I was sure someone’s sofa would present itself. Two things now began to come into play; the incestuous nature of school staffrooms and my single status. I had promised myself that a month at a new school was nowhere near long enough before starting to get involved with other members of staff. This was proving increasingly difficult as I was commanding a fair degree of attention for being both male and new. Apparently women outnumber men at the school by four to one. I had not noticed this despite a very large clue being a ratio of twelve to two in my very own department. I’ll be honest, I was enjoying the attention so much that when someone suggested a club I displayed a little more enthusiasm than was necessary and knocked my own drink off the table.

On we moved to a local cheap, cheerful and oh so very cheesy club. Our numbers had dwindled to about twelve but a hardcore group remained and this is where they earned their ‘wild’ stripes. We spent the next four or five hours between the dance floor and the bar, most other clubbers wisely giving us a wide berth. Falling out of the club it dawned on me I had two choices; find that sofa or wait outside the nearest tube, wherever that was, for a couple of hours until it opened. I needed not have worried as the decision had already been taken (I was a mere follower) to pile into the home of the teacher who lived nearest. This party wasn’t over yet. Yet more alcohol was on offer, but I strangely opted for the kettle and perhaps showing my age for the first time in the night, made myself a cup of tea before taking my seat in a comfy armchair where I defaulted to a watching brief.

Eventually the mood started to chill out and various folk retired to sleep in any number of upstairs rooms, all appearing innocent I have to admit. Noticing it was getting bright outside I decided to stick it out in the armchair a little while longer and leave when I knew the tubes were running again. I’d managed to make new friends, behave myself and pull my first all nighter in a decade.

Thank you new school, this could indeed be wild.

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