Today, I want to see my first published book flow back into the mainstream consciousness. It has been dammed for far too long.
‘Long -Leggety Beasties’ is a thinly-disguised autobiographical account of my first two terms as an English teacher. Now, okay, it is highly exaggerated, even surreal, at times – and some of the incidents (the poisoning by Mead; the Archery Competition; the gender-transitioning Educational Psychologist; the two mothers fighting over a pair of goat’s testicles) are clearly figments of my rich and bawdy imagination.
But some are not. I really did have a horrendous bottom set year eleven class in my first year as a teacher – and they did run riot regularly. I was totally unable to control them. Baptism of fire or what?!
Many of the teachers in my novel are based (fondly) upon people I have actually known and taught with.
In part, the book is a glorious celebration of a species of teacher now sadly threatened with extinction: The Maverick. I was one. Most of my fictional colleagues in the book come into that lovable category. I lament their passing. So should you. They added much richness and colour to education. The system is inestimably the poorer without them.
But the book is also a very graphic and honest account of the myriad difficulties (and occasional triumphs) real teachers face, particularly when they are young and inexperienced, trying to inspire the reluctant, discipline the unruly and give confidence to the shy and low in self-esteem.
It is not, in any way, a ‘God, I was such an amazing teacher!’ novel. I wasn’t. Not then. Frankly, I was crap initially – and it took me many years to learn how to deal with difficult, bottom set groups.
It is a story of struggle, of humour, of children and their parents, of teachers both mad and sane, effective and useless.
I am proud of it. It still makes me laugh, and wince and indulge in bouts of nostalgia.
Available both as an ebook and a paperback, it can be found by clicking this link to Amazon:
Oh, and, to the best of my knowledge, it is the only book which starts with the word ‘Buttocks!’