When Phil Ball left university with a workmanlike English degree to his name and no discernible ambitions, he wasn't entirely sure what to do next. So like many before him he thought he'd giving teaching a go. Why not? This is the comic story of one man's painfully slow metamorphosis into a teacher at an everyday comprehensive and his encounters with other remarkable teachers and pupils along the way. The good, the bad, the violent, the victimised and the clinically insane: from his first teaching practice nemesis, Alan Plant, who knows his dark secret, to the pupil who believes he is a reincarnation of the poet Andrew Marvell. It is a tale of the highs and lows of attempting to teach: from the joy of really making a difference to young minds to being physically set upon by a teenage horde. And that's just what happens in the classroom. Beyond it is the real world of teachers behind staff-room doors: desperate lives, unseemly professional competition, a diet of cigarettes, alcohol and cold coffee, casual sex and general social dysfunction. Not a great example, but the truth.
Phil Ball has lived in San Sebastian in the Basque region of Spain since 1991 where he is still involved in education. He had previously earned a living teaching English in Oman, Peru and Hull. He has written for the Guardian, New York Times and Financial Times. His previous books include the William Hill long-listed and GQ Sports Book of the Year Morbo - The Story of Spanish Football. He is married with two children.