The Fat Barmaid, a nickname coined by one of my colleagues for our then director of quality and vindictive personal vendettas for the educational institute in which I worked, was out to get me… and a rehearsal for a forthcoming higher education inspection was the perfect place to start.
Firstly, I was asked to present a short summary of the progress of the film course I ran to a board of eight or ten people, and once my presentation was over there was a Q&A session during which I was asked if I had a lesson plan. The Fat Barmaid, who until then had been sitting there with a face like a slapped arse, started to smile. Clearly, she believed the chance of that was as likely as Leicester City winning the Premiership. “Of course,” I said handing one over but failing to mention I popped into the production office on my way to the meeting, pinched one of my colleague’s while she wasn’t looking and changed the date. The smile wiped off her face, the Fat Barmaid looked at me and glared. “We will, of course, expect to observe some teaching,” she said condescendingly like I wouldn’t have a clue what she was talking about. “No problem” I replied instantly. “They’re filming on location today. The details are on the call sheet attached to my lesson plan. One thing I would ask when you do turn up, would you mind checking in with the 1st AD. They’re responsible for health and safety and will be marked down if they allow people on set unsupervised”.
There were nods of approval from those sitting around the table. “Sounds reasonable to me,” said one. “All part of their education,” said another. “F**k off,” said the Fat Barmaid. “I’m not having some jumped-up little shit telling me what I can and can’t do. I’ll go where I want when I want… and I won’t be asking anybody’s permission”. It was all I could do to stop laughing, my mind instantly filled by a vision of her tortured face as, squatting like she’d crapped herself, as she waddled down our driveway with an umbrella protruding from deep inside her ample bottom. What I hadn’t said was they were filming at our house and Mrs T doesn’t take kindly to uninvited guests, especially ones with an attitude that just barge in unannounced. Unfortunately, she didn’t turn up so I didn’t get to see it in real life. But I still have the memory.
The following morning I had a meeting with the students to discuss the previous day’s progress, little more than an informal chat really. After filming at our house they had spent until the early hours filming in the gardens of one of their parents. And not everything went to plan, although it was generally agreed that the director was an overbearing gob shite with verbal diarrhoea, the 1st AD could only pass on instructions to the lead actor whilst half naked and locked in a broom cupboard, and the DOP was so anal in his search for the perfect shot, a good take was only declared when one of the actors muttered “f**k this!” and wandered off to find sanctuary in the kitchen. “So, what did you learn from the experience?” I asked trying to unearth something positive.
“I learned how to use a fleccie” said the lighting guy prompting much laughter.
“It’s hard giving instruction to your peers when they’re a load of numpties,” said another.
“And the management team are arseholes” moaned the director in many, many more words. “Keep banging on about the budget. It’s stifling my creativity”.
“Treat them like mushrooms,” I told him. “Keep them in the dark and feed them…”
“Shit!” said one of his colleagues.
I corrected him. “I was going to say manure”
“Not if she hadn’t been sitting there, you wouldn’t” he replied nodding towards the Fat Barmaid who had crept in and was sitting behind me scribbling out my death warrant.
And so it went, honest and constructive criticism. And everything in the garden was rosy… until the report on my teaching came in and I’d been given a score of 4, the lowest you can get. Not that that surprised me, I was used to it. But, as I read through the report, what did surprise me was just how contradictory it was. Apparently, I provided all necessary paperwork, but was hopeless at paperwork, had an excellent relationship with the students, but didn’t get on with them, allowed them to get on with their work without interfering, but didn’t give them any guidance, swore at them during… what? Swore at them? No, I didn’t, it was one of the students who swore and I corrected him. Not only that but after the meeting, I threatened him with the piece of 3 by 2 with the carved handle I kept next to my desk and warned him if he ever embarrassed me like that again I would…
I don’t know about slagging me off, she should have given me a gold star for classroom management.