It was six years ago now that a demon came to sit itself upon my daughter’s chest. For a time she laboured to breathe; the doctors monitored her oxygen levels. Dwight Yorke and Michael Chopra held her tiny hand, in a surreal afternoon in the RVI. Her maternal grandfather would have been appalled at her compliance with a pair of fly-by-night Mackems. But I was grateful as I sat transfixed by Dwight’s thick diamond stud earring.
She recovered, but it was still with some heaviness that we took her back to our poorly-insulated, damp maisonette. I’d finished my PGCE the year previously (a qualification that I’m still paying off) and saw no end to a grinding existence that had more in common with Victorian deprivation than any middle-class vision I had been sold by any number of careers advisors or politicians. If this bronchial strain was the birth of a knowledge economy, then I’d have been better off ignorant.
So I buggered off. After having taught two years, post-PGCE, I moved to teach in a bilingual school in Central Europe.
What I did was entirely rational and in the interests of my family. Having taught abroad now for almost seven years, I feel that I have taken the sow’s purse and fashioned it back into something rich and rewarding for all my family.
So, Michael, don’t seek to shackle young trainee teachers. By all means attach your little anti-libertarian shackles to whatever meagre bursaries are farted out of the DfE, but don’t seek to tar those who choose a life outside the state.
Come and dance with me, Michael. We can both move so much more freely here in our linens. We could dance eurythmically here and afterwards gorge ourselves upon prawns the size of an Etonian cravat.
And here, I have a hope in hell of paying for your damned PGCE.
And here, my daughter is safe from demons.
Please, take my hand and let me lead. This hard-bought freedom will be our dancefloor.