Book review: All Teachers Bright and Beautiful by Andy Seed
Novelist, humorist and school workshops mastermind, Seed recalls his 25-year teaching career in the Dales in the 1980s and 1990s in these warm, wise and laugh-out-loud stories which chart the trials, tribulations – and unparalleled joys – of life, love and teaching in the rural community of fictional Cragthwaite.
Drawing on his years of teaching experience, Seed paints a picture of 1980s primary school life in a rural community where children were drawn from farming stock rather than inner city families but brought with them the same precocious talents, complex problems and baffling behaviour.
Andy is beginning his fifth year teaching at Cragthwaite Primary and as always a new term is full of surprises, including a beautiful, but not terribly bright, student on placement from the local teacher training college and a particularly pushy and problematic parent with a fine line in complaining.
After experiencing the horrors of a school disco and the embarrassment of helping the staff choose a sex education video, Andy is called upon to solve the ‘Great Toilet Mystery’ and April Fool’s Day looks set to bring a special brand of fun.
But Andy’s pupils are the least of his worries... at home in Applesett, another rise in the mortgage interest rate is causing serious financial problems and wife Barbara is forced to take a part-time job as a postie.
While the money is a life-saver, it means finding someone to look after their high-maintenance toddler sons Tom and Reuben so when two old friends move to the village, it looks at first like the problem has been solved.
But as the year goes on, things take a turn for the worse at home and Andy faces a crisis on a school trip to the coast…
Seed’s nostalgic and affectionate story transports us back to a gentler, simpler age as well as providing a memorable lesson on the warmth and community spirit of life in the countryside and the highs and lows of being a teacher.
(Headline, hardback, £16.99)