Heather's feet enjoying mountain paths instead of pounding corridors.

I last went to see a doctor in 2005, ten years ago next month. Since then I have been in Egypt, the Czech Republic and Italy. My two sons went through senior school and only missed a total of four days between them over seven years—we’re a healthy bunch overall! So when the topic came out for this month’s magazine, I wasn’t sure what to write about as I can’t exactly enthral anyone with tales of my sporting activities either.

During the four years we spent in Prague my family would be out playing football on Saturday mornings—good exercise for Steve who would spend the week sitting at his desk. I was, if at all possible, fast asleep. Why am I such a slug at the weekend? I’m sure it’s because of my job. I don’t work for the British Council anymore; I’ m a secondary teacher and for the past ten years I seem to barely have sat down.

Today, for instance, I was in school at 8am. I climbed two flights of stairs to my form room. Then down the stairs again to the English classroom. A quick walk round checking the books, a quick sit on the table during a discussion.  Up two flights between lessons to find a colleague. Down again and then outside at break time to play Irish fiddle music for St Patrick’s Day. Up four floors in my free period to talk to IT department. Then down to my careers office and the chance to heave prospectuses on and off the bookshelves for half an hour. After lunch, a school musical rehearsal as I’m in the production and need to learn jive steps at the same speed as the 16 year olds!

As well as teaching, you can find teachers heaving furniture about, and carrying piles of book, sporting equipment and musical instruments; in my case I also play the double bass. Photocopy machines are usually at the other end of the building. Colleagues are seriously elusive most of the time when you want them, despite internal phone systems and emails, so a lot of time can be wasted wandering round in circles looking for them. Stationery cupboards are deliberately, it seems, placed at the opposite end of the corridor to the English department.

So it’s not too difficult to stay fit. Plus, in our holidays we go skiing and hiking and my working life has trained me up for it. It’s relaxing to exchange wooden floors for mountain paths. I sometimes wish the alarm clock did not go off at 6.30 every morning, but apart from that, I love my job.

I have had one ailment. Last May I began to get pains in my heel. They were quite bad in the morning and after getting home. I checked it on the internet—colloquially it’s called ‘policeman’s heel’ and is common in people who stomp up and down like a policeman on the beat. I guess that sums up the life of a teacher.


Heather Oxley