It has been seven years since I was last inspected.
In the intervening years my heart has softened; my memories of Ofsted have become suffused with an Instagrammatic vintage glow. Like Winston Smith, I sit at a wooden table in a dusty bar, vinegar-reeking; worn elbow-patches cushioning my aching frame as I contemplate the subsidence of Stockholm Syndrome.
In seven years, my old school has moved through ‘outstanding’ to ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’. Many of my former colleagues remain there in a variety of new contractual circumstances, teaching the very best that they can amidst the ever-present administrative and political flurry of conspicuous innovation.
Seven years for a heart to soften: each year melting a rigid bone and thawing taut muscle. There was a time when I believed that inspectors moved unwalking as if on castors. There are inspectors whom I am convinced wore cloaks lined with red satin – wore a single black leather glove, in which a fist clenched permanently. They watched lessons unblinkingly through wire-framed spectacles.
I am utterly convinced that an inspector once gently lowered a small cage over my head, releasing its contents and noting my elasticating contortions on his clipboard. I have never seen an inspector with a clipboard, but my dreams are filled with these box-ticking ghasts.
But seven years has passed and my shivering has ceased. I sit here, with my filthy glass of vodka, and happily dream of footsteps piercing the nape of my neck; my hackles rising to greet whatever will come to me.
I can look, now, at my love of Ofsted. I can turn it in my hand.
And await my fate.