Days Like Those: 'Surely I would remember having an interview? Media Studies teacher is a responsible, proper job'

Related Topics

It was my friend Gill, who has a son in the same school as Louis, who pointed out that, according to this year's Parent Handbook, I am the new Media Studies teacher. "You dark horse," she said, and I asked what on earth she was talking about. "Look under the list of teachers," she said. And there I was. Or there I seemed to be, albeit with the addition of an extra L to my name: "Rebecca Tyrrell," it said, "Media Studies".

Matthew was thrilled when I told him. "It's simply marvellous," he said, "I could not be more thrilled for you. It is just the most tremendous news."

"What do you mean?" I spluttered, "it's clearly some mistake. It's not even the right spelling of my surname."

"That doesn't mean anything," said Matthew. "People are always misspelling your name. Even your publisher – even you – have been known to add the odd consonant."

He was right. An entire print run of these columns had to be pulped because they spelt my name with an extra L. And I applied for a passport with an extra R. "But I don't know anything about the modern media," I wailed. "Surely people are supposed to have a degree in this kind of thing? And no one asked me to be the new Media Studies teacher. I certainly don't remember applying."

"Ah, but we can be a bit forgetful these days, can't we?" said Matthew, in a voice that would suggest he was talking to a 108-year-old. "And it's definitely you. No question. I mean what are the odds on someone with your name, which is not a terribly common one, teaching Media Studies at the very school that you, a media person, send your own child to? No, it's definitely you. But don't worry so much, it will be a very informal, part-time thing, probably no more than a couple of hours a week, and you'll just have to pitch up and tell a bunch of teenagers some old Fleet Street anecdotes – life before Wapping, the time you interviewed Joan Collins, Rod Stewart, that sort of thing. It might be worth a phone call to find out how much you will be paid and how much of a discount we will be receiving on the fees. Be sure to get the discount. It's great news."

I am sure Matthew is wrong. I am sure there is more to Media Studies these days than how to interview a celebrity and how we took armoured buses through the picket lines in 1986. And what about the internet? There's blogging and downloads and just one week to go till the beginning of term. Mind you, there have been times, while out shopping for Louis's uniform and stationery, that I have experienced little surges of excitement about my new post. In fact, I have bought myself a pencil case and a new fountain pen for marking and some folders. I resisted a Prada briefcase, thinking I would see how the term progressed. Perhaps, I thought, I could ask for one for Christmas.

Part of me was actually enjoying the start-of-the-new-school-year collywobbles. But, to be honest, most of me was becoming more and more alarmed at the prospect, not so much of standing up in front of a class of teenagers, but of spending any time at all with Matthew, who was being tirelessly patronising. He gave me a book by Harold Evans, called Good Times, Bad Times, which was written, I pointed out to him, in 1984.

I tried calling the school to see if I could glance at the curriculum but, and I suppose it's because of the holidays, I got no further than an answerphone.

Two days before term started, however, I could go on no longer. There must have been a mistake. Think about it. I would have had an interview. Surely I would remember having an interview. Media Studies teacher is a proper, responsible job. And anyway, what was I supposed to do? Just turn up on the first day of school wearing a mortarboard?

Finally, the phone at the school was answered, and without asking whom I was talking to, I said, "I am Rebecca Tyrrel and I am ringing to explain that I have given the Media Studies job a lot of thought but, despite my weekly newspaper column, my long and varied newspaper career and my industry award, I really don't think I am the right person. I am afraid I will have to let the school down."

"I am sorry, who is it you want to talk to?" said the person on the other end.

"Well," I said, "my name is Rebecca Tyrrel and..."

"Would you like me to put you through to Rebecca Tyrrell?"

"No, you don't understand, I am Rebecca Tyrrel, and..."

"No, hang on, you can't be Rebecca because I can see her right now in the corridor outside my office. I'll get her for you, shall I? Although, just to let you know, she has married since the Parent Handbook was sent out and will now be known as Mrs Rebecca..."

"No," I said, "Please don't bother her. The problem has been solved."

I experienced mixed emotions when I put the phone down. I felt a little sad at the diminution of my uniqueness, although, of course, I always knew there must be other Rebecca Tyrrels, or even Tyrrells, in the world or even the same borough. I also felt a tremendous sense of sorrow that I hadn't bought that Prada briefcase while I had an excuse.

Matthew, on the other hand, felt nothing but an inconsolable grief that there was now no possibility of a discount on the school fees.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Circles South East Youth Service: Youth Services Volunteer

this is an unpaid voluntary position: Circles South East Youth Service: LOOKIN...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - OTE £30,000+

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading privately owned sp...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is require...

Recruitment Genius: Logistics Supervisor

£24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest supplier to the UK'...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Yorkshire Terrier waits to be judged during the Toy and Utility day of the Crufts dog show at the NEC in Birmingham  

There are no winners at Crufts. Dogs deserve better than to suffer and die for a 'beauty' pageant

Mimi Bekhechi

Daily catch-up: how come Ed Miliband’s tuition fee ‘cut’ is so popular, then?

John Rentoul
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn