What I Did At School Today by John Mee
This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent
ACT I Scene 1 – STAFFROOM (Before School)
(The curtain opens to a cluttered, neglected Junior School staffroom somewhere in the
modern urban wastes. A coffee table is parked centre-stage littered with unopened mail,
exercise books, magazines etc. Behind it sits a worn-out sofa with odd chairs each side.
A hamster cage containing shredded newspaper, sawdust, exercise wheel etc lies on the
table by an overflowing waste bin. To the west is an opening window fronted by a sink
unit with wonky overhead cupboards and sticky drawers. An old kettle, dirty mugs, a
bag of sugar and an open carton of congealed milk adorn the drainer. Various curled-
up posters and an out-of-date noticeboard just about cling to the walls.
After a beat one side of the noticeboard submits to gravity…)
(MAXINE the grumpy cleaner, is alone grudgingly mopping the floor around the sink.
Suddenly, she sees something through the window and angrily opens it…)
MAXINE: (Shouting) Oi! Pick that litter up, y’ cheeky sod!
I’m sick o’ you lot droppin’ sweet wrappers in that playground.
Get to y’ classroom! You’ll be late for registration…
(To herself as she shuts the window and turns) …bloody teachers.
(MAXINE trudges to the sofa to continue reluctantly cleaning out the hamster cage)
(MRS JUBB, the inept school secretary ENTERS clinging to an A4 office diary…)
MRS JUBB: Morning Maxine.
MAXINE: (Miserably) Yeah, whatever.
(…putting it on the sink. Opening the wall cupboards, something falls on her head)
MRS JUBB: (Frustratedly) Honestly. This staffroom’s a disgrace.
The youngsters are more organised than the teachers in this school.
MAXINE: The hamsters are more organised than the teachers in this school!
MRS JUBB: Did no one look after Hammy over weekend? Poor thing.
MAXINE: No. Muggins has to, as-per-soddin’-usual. What y’ lookin’ for?
MRS JUBB: You haven’t a spare tea bag, have you?
I’ll be in the you-know-what if I don’t get the head his morning cuppa.
MAXINE: Here - one in this bin.
(MRS JUBB talks as she goes to the waste bin, rummaging through the debris…)
MRS JUBB: Children aren’t interested in pets any more. It’s all x-pads and i-boxes.
(…fishing out an old tea bag on a string)
MRS JUBB: What’s this? I can’t give a used teabag to a headmaster!
And it’s covered in tiny hamsters’ doo-dahs.
MAXINE: Tell him it’s herbal tea.
MRS JUBB: Herbal? It’s more gerbil than herbal.
MAXINE: Say it’s organic then. He won’t notice.
MRS JUBB: Not sure. He knows his Earl Grey from his Typhoo, does Mr Beasley!
(MRS JUBB gingerly dangles the tea bag to the sink. As they talk, MRS JUBB drops the
tea bag in a mug and pours water from the kettle)
MRS JUBB: When I was a little girl, I used to love looking after the school pet.
Didn’t bother me cleaning its bottom. Any milk?
MAXINE: Same here. If they needed a kid to sort an animal’s bum, I’d be first to put
me hand up. Milk on the sink.
(MRS JUBB sniffs the carton of milk and cringes as she pours it in the mug)
MRS JUBB: I’ve always loved animals, me.
I’d be lost without my little cat to keep me company.
(Beat as MAXINE notices MRS JUBB scanning the sink top, tutting to herself)
MAXINE: What’s up now?
MRS JUBB: Have you seen the stirrer? The bent one covered in stains?
MAXINE: Y’ mean the headmaster?
MRS JUBB: No, the spoon!
MAXINE: That thing? I chucked it away. Look in the bin.
(They talk as MRS JUBB takes the mug to the bin rummaging through the debris)
MRS JUBB: Have you any pets, Maxine?
MAXINE: At home? No. Only me.
I did have a dog, but - what with all the smell an’ the mess - it wasn’t fair on the dog.
(MRS JUBB looks shocked and upset…)
MRS JUBB: Hold on - what's this?
(…as she fishes out a ‘dead’ - toy! - hamster from the bin, dangling it by its tail)
MRS JUBB: Oh, no! Poor Hammy!
(Pompous headteacher CLIVE ENTERS, kowtowing to a parent on a portable phone)
CLIVE: (to phone) …no, no. I’m sure I can squeeze you in.
(MRS JUBB panics dipping Hammy in the mug by its tail, like a tea bag)
MRS JUBB: (Anxiously) Nearly ready, Mr Beasley.
(CLIVE holds the phone to his chest, clicking his fingers…)
CLIVE: (Frantically) Diary Mrs Jubb! Diary!
(to phone) Your son’s what? Bi-polar? My word, sounds like Scott of the Antarctic!
(While CLIVE creeps to the caller, MRS JUBB frantically searches for the diary.
MAXINE casually retrieves it from the sink, passes it to MRS JUBB then offers her the
bin to discretely dispose of Hammy)
CLIVE: (to phone) Oh, I seee! He has like a dual personality. Sew an extra name tag in
his anorak - that should suffice. (beat) Sorry, you’re cracking-up…
MAXINE: He will if he sends his kids here!
CLIVE: (to phone) Sports? Not a problem. Our PE facilities are second-to-none!
MAXINE: (Sarcastically) Ha! Second to non-existent, y’ mean!
(MAXINE EXITS carrying the waste bin)
(CLIVE snatches the diary from MRS JUBB filling in details with a red pen)
CLIVE: (to phone) So. It’s Mr… and Mrs… Smedley-Allen. This afternoon it is!
(beat) Use the Deputy Head’s parking space next to mine - she’s had a breakdown.
(beat) Not her car - a nervous breakdown. And I’d leave the Jag and come in an old
banger you’re not too bothered about. Ok, Mr erm… hello? (beat) Hello? Oh.
(CLIVE looks down the mouthpiece realising the caller has hung up)
CLIVE: Talking of old bangers, is that my tea Mrs Jubb? Ahh, lovely!
(MRS JUBB cautiously offers CLIVE the tea as he pushes the phone and diary at her.
She looks worried as he stirs the tea with his red pen, looking smug)
CLIVE: D' you know? I think it's going to be a ve-ry lucrative day school-fund-wise.
MRS JUBB: Not more parents from that posh new estate?
CLIVE: Practically pleading for a placement they were.
MRS JUBB: Why do they want to send their children here? They’ll end up with nits!
(CLIVE looks down at his tea with curiosity, fishing out a hair)
CLIVE: What tea’s this? It’s got hairs in it.
MRS JUBB: (Anxiously) It’s… it’s orgasmic.
(CLIVE has a look of concern, but carries on stirring it with his red pen)
CLIVE: They’ve no choice, Mrs Jubb. We’re the only school in the catchment.
And these rich, upwardly-mobiles ‘ll do anything to get their wee sproglets in here.
MRS JUBB: If they’re that effluent, why don’t they send them to a private school?
CLIVE: (Horrified, about to sip his tea) Private school? Did you say Private school?
Wash-your-mouth-out! What can they offer we can’t?
Besides, the nearest Independent’s The Kings Prep. And that’s full-to-bursting.
I should know - my own daughters go there.
MRS JUBB: What about the inspection report? Won’t that put them off?
CLIVE: (Dismissively, about to sip his tea) Inspection report? Pff.
We simply change our name and voilà! Lloyd George Juniors is replaced by a new
school with a clean slate. Standard procedure nowadays.
MRS JUBB: But our naughty boys? You can’t click your fingers and say viola to them!
But if these parents splash-the-cash, I’ll have enough in the kitty for an ICT Suite!
Computers ‘ll keep the little brats quiet. They’re the hi-tec answer to colouring-in.
MRS JUBB: (Warily) Computers? Ooh, I’ll stick with my typewriter thank-you.
My husband used to say, "Computers are all right - until they go wrong!".
CLIVE: (Bemused, about to sip his tea) What?
MRS JUBB: In-any-case, how will the teachers go on?
They struggle enough with the photocopier.
CLIVE: Don’t-you-worry. I’ll soon be a qualified computer boffin myself.
I’ve enrolled for a National Diploma in Information Technology.
Not many heads have N. D. I. T. after their name!
MRS JUBB: (Checks her watch) Oops! The registers…
(MRS JUBB EXITS in her usual panic carrying the phone and diary)
(CLIVE stands smugly posing, holding his tea mug)
CLIVE: Oh, yes. I can see the sign…
‘The Lloyd George Junior Academy of Computer Science’.
(Signing R to L) ‘Headmaster – Clifford Albert Beasley B. A., N. D. I. T.’
(He sips his tea, rushes to the sink to spit it out and collapses, hidden behind the sofa)
ACT I Scene 2 – CORRIDOR (Apron)
(Teachers KATE and JENNY ENTER DSR wearing coats, carrying bags. KATE looks
professional, whilst JENNY is sporting her bicycle helmet, carrying a big guitar case.
Teacher PAT glumly shadows them, but carries on to EXIT DSL as they stop to talk)
KATE: …so what is it this time, Jenny? Angles?
JENNY: (Anxiously) I’m confused about protractors and that.
KATE: All it is, is junior trigonometry!
How did you go on with those worksheets on fractions I gave you?
JENNY: They were great, thanks. I gave them out like you said…
JENNY: (Proudly) …and they all got full marks!
KATE: Well-done-you! Did you mark them?
JENNY: No, I gave them the answer sheet.
KATE: You can't do that! What if they’re wrong?
JENNY: It’s ok. They checked on their calculators…
KATE: Jennifer! Children should use their brains, not calculators!
(MAXINE ENTERS DSR carrying the full waste bin)
JENNY: (Downbeat) Sorry, Kate. You must think I’m a complete dimwit.
KATE: Don’t be silly…
MAXINE: No. You’re at least a half-wit!
JENNY: (Upbeat) Aww, thanks Maxine.
(MAXINE EXITS DSL carrying the waste bin, shaking her head)
JENNY: I blame my own maths teacher.
When he taught angles, he’d get me confused between acute and obtuse.
KATE: (Wry aside) Nope. You’re definitely obtuse!
JENNY: Just shows, doesn’t Kate? How one bad teacher can ruin your education?
KATE: (Wry aside) Mmm. It does.
Still, at least your spelling’s not bad.
JENNY: I know. That’s why the head asked me to write the school Literacy Policy.
(MAXINE ENTERS DSL carrying the emptied bin)
KATE: I read the draft. By-the-way, there’s more than one F in staff.
MAXINE: If you ask me, there’s one too many effin’ staff!
(MAXINE EXITS DSR carrying the waste bin)
KATE: Come on, Jen - let’s see what I’ve got on angles.
JENNY: Aww, thanks Kate. My students love your worksheets.
KATE: (Wry aside) They don’t have much choice!
(KATE EXITS DSL followed by JENNY looking more upbeat)
ACT I Scene 3 - STAFFROOM
(CLIVE UNFREEZES, rising from behind the sofa wiping tea off his suit and mouth)
(MAXINE ENTERS carrying the waste bin, trailed by DAN, the new supply teacher)
MAXINE: Bloke t’ see ya, boss.
DAN: (Offering his hand) Mr Beasley? Dan Thompson.
CLIVE: (Shaking hands) Ex-cellent stuff. Do take a pew.
Maxine? Can you get Mrs Jubb to fetch Mr Thompson one of her famous cups of tea?
DAN: (to MAXINE) Prefer coffee, if that’s ok? Decaf? Black? No sugar?
MAXINE: This’ll be fun!
(CLIVE settles next to DAN)
CLIVE: So - Mr Thompson?
Be nice having another chap on-board – even if you are only a temporary one.
DAN: Temporary? Oh, you mean supply? And it’s Dan, by-the-way.
CLIVE: You see, between us - 'man-to-man' as-it-were - I have a wee problem.
DAN: A ‘wee’ problem?
CLIVE: Prefer keeping it under wraps in case it starts to ‘trickle down’.
(Covertly) One doesn’t want to risk embarrassing leaks.
DAN: (Concerned) Obviously.
CLIVE: Thing is, all my female teachers are what you might call ‘women’.
And ladies don’t like getting ‘down and dirty’ like we do.
DAN: (Confused) Sorry?
CLIVE: What are you? A rugger man? Tennis? Squash?
DAN: Sports? More a watcher than a do-er. I cheer * County on now an’ again.
CLIVE: Splendid! Seems to qualify you then.
DAN: Qualify me for what?
CLIVE: As my new PE co-ordinator.
(Dismissively) After-school clubs, sports day - that kinda thing.
DAN: (Concerned) Sports Day?
CLIVE: We all get involved. You and I could couple-up for the wheelbarrow race.
What d’ you prefer? Front or back?
DAN: (Worried) Erm…
(MAXINE ENTERS trudging to the sink to get a cloth)
MAXINE: Coffee on its way.
DAN: …what about resources? Games equipment and stuff?
CLIVE: Might be a few bean bags knocking about; maybe the odd skipping rope.
And there should be some hula-hoops. Came with that Childhood Obesity initiative.
DAN: Hula-hoops? That’s a good idea. Obesity's a big problem.
CLIVE: They’ve hardly been used.
MAXINE: (Sarcastically as she passes) They were too bloody small, that’s why!
DAN: I take it you have a Healthy Eating Policy?
CLIVE: Absolutely. The tuck shop ready-salted are all reduced.
DAN: (Impressed) Low-fat crisps – nice one!
MAXINE: (Sarcastically as she passes) Reduced in price. They’re out-of-date.
(MAXINE EXITS carrying the cloth leaving CLIVE looking uncomfortable)
CLIVE: (to DAN) Anyway, listen. I’ve organised a tour for some VIP parents.
How do you fancy showing them the gym? Explaining our PE curriculum?
DAN: I don’t know anything about your PE curriculum.
CLIVE: Neither d’ they.
And be nice if you dress the part - flash those lithesome thighs of yours.
DAN: But I haven’t any kit!
CLIVE: Have a root in lost property – I'm sure there’s some shorts.
DAN: (Concerned) Boys’ shorts? To fit me?
CLIVE: Certainly. We’ve infants with bigger waistlines!
(Checks his watch) So if you can get us up to Olympic standards by say? Two-ish?
DAN: (Concerned) Today?
CLIVE: And think-yourself-lucky! I remember having to do PE in my underpants.
Nearly ruined my teaching career…
(MRS JUBB ENTERS rattling an interview cup and saucer, offering it to DAN)
MRS JUBB: One coffee – white, with no milk. You did say defecated?
DAN: (Realising) Oh. Right. Thanks.
CLIVE: Mrs Jubb’s my PA and secretary… aren’t you Mrs Jubb?
She’s been ringing the school bell here for many-a-year… haven't you Mrs Jubb?
MRS JUBB: (Rubbing her ear) I’ve rung it that many times, it’s given me tittiness.
(Beat) And no sugar. Bad for you sugar. My husband used to have three spoonful’s!
DAN: Has he cut down?
MRS JUBB: No, he's dead.
(DAN looks embarrassed)
(MAXINE ENTERS trudging to the sink carrying the cloth)
CLIVE: Ok, I’m sure Mr Thompson isn’t interested in your late, lamented husband.
Off you scoot now. Chop-chop!
(MRS JUBB EXITS sheepishly)
CLIVE: Come, Daniel.
I’ll show you the gym before the dinnerladies start boiling their cabbage.
MAXINE: Watch y’ step in there, boss. A kid’s had a nose bleed.
I’ll stick paper towels down.
CLIVE: We do seem to suffer the occasional bleeding disorder.
MAXINE: If you ask me, we suffer permanent bleedin’ disorder!
(CLIVE leads DAN to EXIT)