It started just before eight o’clock with the call I’d been dreading all week. “Michael? I’m really sorry but I’ve hurt my back and I won’t be able to come in today.”
There was no time for breakfast. I grabbed a banana from the canteen, balanced it on top of a lukewarm cup of tea, and took the stairs two at a time to prepare for the first lesson. When I walked in almost all the students were asleep. “What time did you go to bed?” I asked one. “Four o’clock,” he said, his head drooping all the while. My phone rang every ten minutes with questions from teachers out on excursions; in my breaks I had to chase up parts for the photocopier, deal with a mother who’d arrived to take her sick daughter back to Italy, go though lesson plans and arrange observations, and write up an itinerary and guide for the following day’s trip to Sherwood Forest.
It was half past nine when I finally switched off the office light. The kids were doing karaoke in a lecture theatre. The two doctors were smoking on the steps outside.