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Irma the Gorilla – It could happen to you!

March 18, 2015

Well, it’s late one Sunday night and you’re bored. You’ve checked the QCA website, downloaded a worksheet for year 9 from Teachit and you just think you’ll check your emails before you turn in.

What’s this? Maria Ripemov wants you to tell you about a lady from Poland who is desperate to meet you. Olga sounds quite attractive as you click on the enticing invitation to see more of her. Whoops, here’s a surprise! Maria wants you to see a whole lot more of Olga than you anticipated. Olga also seems to have a friend round and they are apparently about to take a shower!

And that’s it! You shut down and go to bed wondering about the vagaries of human existence as you fall into an anxious dream where the audience for Monday’s assembly is made up of naked Polish women rather than lower school pupils and you have to address them in Serbo-Croat.

Next day the Head of RE borrows your laptop to fire the projector and around lunchtime you get an urgent call. The boss needs to see you right now. The Head of RE is biting her lip and looking tense and your union representative is in there too. And, that’s it! Twenty minutes later you’re on your way home while your laptop is confiscated pending an enquiry into the downloading of pornographic images. You are an alleged sex beast and lots of people are going to have to know.

First of all you need to think of some answers. How plausible can you be? It wasn’t you. It was someone in year 11 while you were out of the room on Friday. No, that won’t wash; you know that the time will be etched in binary code inside the machine.

Okay, think again. You were conducting some research into the availability of internet pornography in the school and in the process of preparing some guidelines for staff on safe computer use. Yes, that sounds good but would my learned friends wonder what you were doing undertaking this research at 11.45 on Sunday night? And, did anyone authorise this research? Do you have a copy of your guidelines in preparation? No, I thought not. I put it to you that you are simple a pervert and I call on you, members of the jury…

You rack your brains. Maybe the wife did it! You went to bed and left your laptop on. She thought Maria was a friend, she opened the mail and hey presto! This could work but might not play well in a predominantly female staff room. Branding the wife as either technologically naïve or as a sex crazed lesbian might not go down too well with colleagues who know her as a highly competent mother and local government administrative officer. You could expect the muttering to start within days and then the punishment – coffee cup unwashed, junk mail cluttering your pigeon hole, that silence as you enter the room and the scornful eyes that follow you until you shut the door behind you and the buzz of conversation restarts.

Think more ambitiously. Maria is your old au pair, at least you thought she was and you expected to find some holiday snaps of the Polish lakes. In fact, you love Poland so much that you’re going to use this half day to go straight out and book a holiday in Warsaw and then pop into Tesco to buy some sausage!

The truth is you know it’s hopeless. All you can do is play the nervous breakdown card. Overworked teacher seeks solace in internet sex to escape from S4 forms and threshold assessment. A paragraph in the Daily Mail, censure from the GTC but you can keep your job with your computer use monitored for five years. Of course, the wife will leave you and the kids never speak to you again but that’s just too bad.

Next day, you’re back in school anxious and dejected as you crawl into the headteacher’s office. You expect the police and governors to be in attendance too but there’s just you and him. ‘Odd thing,’ he says, ‘but when I looked again there was nothing there. Maybe Brenda was a bit confused about what she saw. You’re in the clear’. He hands back your laptop as you sigh with relief even as you notice that this machine has a chip in the corner where yours never did. ‘By the way,’ he says ‘I wonder how you’d feel about adding the attainment of boys at key stage 3 to your responsibilities?’ And, as you gratefully agree and pay the price, he leans forward and whispers, ‘Forget the Polish women, look on Google for Irma and the gorilla. It’s much better quality too!’


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