Secret Teacher: my Christmas get together mischief received me on the naughty list

A couple of years ago in the second week of December, the worst possible news filtered through the staffroom grapevine. It wasn’t that the “Big O” was arriving in the last week of term, but rather that the Christmas party would be moved from a semi-respectable venue with subsidised bar to – drumroll please – the school drama studio.

I was aghast: my celebrity costume was sorted, fit with wig, and I would be throwing the customary pre-party party for the Friday pub gang. I was always a consummate professional during the school day, but this was my night off and I was excited to be hosting, showing off my outfit and generally dazzling with finesse. But news that our annual jailbreak would be held in school flicked a mental switch. This was the one night when senior management team left us alone, after an initial awkward hour.

I became the rebelling protagonist. Some sort of collective personality dysmorphia overcame us whereby we were bound to take on the roles of discos past: who would form the snogging couple after a couple of awkward dances? Who would sneak in contraband? Who would be told off by the head for dancing too enthusiastically? And which couple would have the fight that would set tongues wagging for the rest of the term?

On the night, having plied my guests (and myself) with booze, we eventually headed en masse back to school. Filled with merriment, we threw open double doors of the studio, only to be met with the demure silence of about six other people, including the head.

Silence is not my strong point, so I marched over to show off my “I love [insert name of school]” tattoo that had been carefully sharpied onto my bicep. The headteacher smiled and chatted pleasantly. I was cock-a-hoop at the attention from my senior management team – I never got this during the school day.

A highly successful warbling of “Valerie” later, and the Jaegers finally caught up with me. I was delighted to discover the school’s food tech classrooms: in our two-building school, it was quite possible to find new corridors even after years of service. But as anyone who has ever overindulged Bacchic style will know, what goes down sometimes comes back up. And what a delight to find a room with built-in sinks for the purpose. Aided and abetted by my disgusted, amused and downright ashamed colleagues, I saw off the worst of the attack. Around me, teachers were hiding in cupboards and donning colander-space-helmets. We had regressed even further from rebellious teens to helpless toddlers in a few short hours.

I took the decision – I lie, the decision was taken for me – that I should leave, and my after party was summarily cancelled. I was escorted home by an angelic colleague who went far beyond the call of duty in her assistance.

Monday morning came and the head thanked the organisers during the staff briefing. Cue elbow nudges, glances cast and mouths forced into sober expressions as we tried to establish who knew what. I went to the head, tail between my legs, to seek pardon. But how much did he know? How vague could I be? I’d heard others were already in trouble for the colander-gate, and he knew I was looking to move schools and needed a reference.

He hinted at a smile as he replied to my “I’m sorry for my behaviour” with a shrug, asking: “what for?” I squirmed: “For what I did on Friday.” With deadpan delivery, leaving me totally unsure whether he knew and just wanted to make me say it, I blurted, “for being drunk in school”, and scarpered from his office. I don’t think he held it against me, though at the next year’s Christmas bash he seemed relieved to see me in more usual party attire.

This week, my new school has its Christmas party and I won’t be letting go. I’ll be too aware of the impression I make on new colleagues. But I am so fortunate to have had such amazing colleagues in my previous job – genuine friends, with whom I could humiliate myself entirely, and who found my camera and deleted the worst pictures. I’ll be forever grateful.

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