My Polish Teacher's Tie by Helen Dunmore
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My Polish Teacher’s Tie by Helen Dunmore 2
I wear a uniform, blue overall and white cap with the school logo on it. Part-time catering staff, that’s me, £3.89 per hour. I dish out tea and buns to the teachers twice a day, and I shovel chips on to the kids’ trays at dinner-time. It’s not a bad job. I like the kids.
The teachers pay for their tea and buns. It’s one of those schemes teachers are good at. So much into a kitty, and that entitles them to cups of tea and buns for the rest of the term. Visitors pay, too, or it wouldn’t be fair. Very keen on fairness, we are, here.
It was ten-forty-five when the Head got up to speak. He sees his staff together for ten minutes once a week, and as usual he had a pile of papers in front of him. I never listen to any of it as a rule, but as I was tipping up the teapot to drain I heard him mention Poland.
I am half-Polish. They don’t know that here. My name’s not Polish or anything. It was my mother, she came here after the war. I spoke Polish till I was six, baby Polish full of rhymes Mum taught me. Then my father put a stop to it. ‘You’ll get her all mixed up, now she’s going to school. What use is Polish ever going to be to her?’ I can’t speak it now. I’ve got a tape, a tape of me speaking Polish with Mum. I listen, and I think I’m going to understand what we’re saying, and then I don’t.
‘… long-term aim is to arrange a teacher exchange – several Polish teachers are looking for penfriends in English schools, to improve their written English … so if you’re interested, the information’s all here …’
He smiled, wagging t...