Friday, 18 June 2010

The Ballad Of Mr Thumb, And Why Schools Have CCTV When We Don't

God, I'm so glad Connie's coming home from uni today for the summer vacation. I have had about as much testosterone-related craziness this week as I can take.

I have to ask Greg to take over for the second half of this afternoon's surgery, as Max and I have been called into school to see Josh's tutor, Mr Bowen. Josh is furious that we've been contacted, and he doesn't even calm down during the lengthy period we spend waiting outside the tutor's office. He spends the entire time ranting, just like a constituent.

"That bloody man's got it in for me. He just picks on me - all the time. It doesn't matter what anyone else is doing, it's always, 'Joshua Bennett. My office - now!' He's just jealous 'cause I haven't got a disability," announces Josh, with venom.

"Disability?" I ask.

"We call him Mr Thumb," says Josh. "'Cause his thumb's five times the size it should be."

Josh draws various illustrations of Mr Bowen's affected appendage to support his claims. His outrage seems so genuine that Max and I are feeling really hostile by the time we enter the office. I will not have someone picking on my youngest child, just because his digits are undamaged.

I put on my best MP's Office voice and walk to the desk, my hand outstretched.

"Mr Thumb? I'm Molly Bennett. Pleased to meet you."

Max and Josh collapse in hysterics, while Mr Bowen looks at me in disbelief. I realise what I've done and have to excuse myself. I clutch at my forehead and say,

"I am so sorry, I'm unwell. I think I may be going to be -" and then I run for the door, making (very convincing) retching noises.

Max tells me later that things didn't get any better after my departure. Apparently, when he complained that Mr Bowen was picking on Josh, Mr Bowen replied that Josh was in the sixth-form common room all morning - and all afternoon - of every day, playing poker. Max didn't believe this, so Mr Bowen made him watch a CCTV recording of Josh in action.

Max then tried to argue that Josh was probably only relaxing during free periods but, again, Mr Bowen's response wasn't exactly helpful. Josh was ordered to hand over his homework diary, to enable Mr Bowen to show Max the lesson timetable. The entire cover was decorated with extremely realistic outsized thumbs.

Max says there's nothing for it but to kill Josh. Connie's (unsurprisingly) in favour, and even I agree to think about it.

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