One of the most feared teachers at our Primary School was Mrs Phillips. She was an old school teacher who did not stand for any nonsense.
“How dare you?” she would bellow in a stentorian voice when anything displeased her. Every kid dreaded being in her class. One of our cousins was unlucky enough to get her two years in a row.
Mrs Phillips pet subject was handwriting and if she was acting as a relief teacher for another class it was a fair bet that she would make the class practice their cursive writing. We had a handbook showing how each letter should look and if your loops were not the same size or your “t’s” were not crossed or “I’s” dotted you would feel her wrath. I did not have neat handwriting so I dreaded her appearance in my classroom.
The other problem with Mrs Phillips was that she did not like interruptions. If you were so bold as to put your hand up to ask her something after she had told you to get on with your work you would wind up regretting it.
Naomi fell foul of her in this way when she raised her hand in class to ask if she could leave her desk to sharpen her pencil. The woman would not even let her ask the question and the result was a piece of very messy handwriting which made her furious.
I don’t know how old Mrs Phillips was but I imagine she might have been around the age that I am now. Perhaps when she was at home with her family she was different but to me it seemed that she must hate children and the kids in our school were not unusually badly behaved.