But having a stinking head cold put paid to that idea, so marking it was today. It went better than I expected, to be honest; I managed to maintain my handwriting to a fairly legible standard through the entire batch, thereby avoiding the possibility of, 'What do you mean, you 'can't read my comments?' Of course you can read my comments! For goodness' sake, at least make the EFFORT,' exchanges between me and students.
About halfway through a pile of particularly dire Romeo and Juliet essays, I was distracted by a fracas. Actually, I was distracted by the lure of a cup of tea and slice of birthday cake brought round by my Mum yesterday. Yesterday, I had a bit of a pre-birthday buffet lunch with some family and friends. My birthday isn't until Wednesday, but when one is a worker and one's friends and family are workers, one has to organise social activities around the weekend as much as possible.
Anyway, back to the fracas. The chickens were going bonkers in the back garden and I couldn't see why. It took me a while to locate the source of the angst and then I spotted it - a ginger kitten. To be more precise, a ginger kitten perched on the top bar hive, batting for bees.
'Oh the folly of youth,' I sighed, donning my outdoor shoes to go on a kitten-in-peril rescue mission.
'There's a kitten on the bee hive!!' yelled Mrs Pumphrey as I entered the garden.
'I know,' I said.
'It'll get stung!!!' said Mrs Slocombe, although she didn't look too distressed by the idea - more ghoulishly interested.
I plodded to the end of the garden, pausing under the willow arch which is shedding its leaves to Autumn and will soon be requiring a prune. Do I just dive in and get the kitten? Should I put on my bee suit? The weather was warm; the bees were flying. They're still bringing back great trousers of pollen, goodness' knows from where, although the ivy is looking particularly abundant this year.
I decided to just go for it. In I went, scooping up the kitten and exchanging quick social pleasantries with the bees. Who ignored me.
'WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THAT KITTEN??' shouted Andy from his study window.
Damn, I thought. All ideas of smuggling the ginger fluff bundle into the house when he wasn't looking were ruined. I was hoping that when he did notice her appearance in a couple of weeks' time and say something like, 'When did we suddenly become a 4 cat household?' and hold the ginger kitten aloft, I'd reply, 'What? That old thing? Had it for ages.'
'I'M RESCUING IT FROM THE BEES!' I shouted back. 'IT WAS STUCK!'
'Hmmmmmm...' said Andy.
I released the kitten - the cute, soft, cuddly, light-as-a-feather kitten - at the other end of the garden whence it promptly ran back into the garden, chased the hens for a while, returned to the bee hive and perched atop having more games of the 'bat-the-bee.'
I think it may have got stung because it suddenly made a frantic exit over the fence and we haven't seen it since. Just as well really, as I can't be doing with it stalking the hens.
'No,' say Mrs P and Mrs S. 'We are far too old for that malarkey.'
Kitten lesson, hopefully, learned.