It is a documented fact that rats placed in too-close proximity will turn on their own. At the end of first term something of the kind is being played out in the staffrooms of Lowbottom.

When once you all chuckled and rolled your eyes good-naturedly at the staff member’s mobile phone going off at half-hourly intervals (the certain signal of an overactive love-life) to the tune of Mamma Mia, now it is all anyone can do to restrain themselves from answering it with a “If you’re the dead shit Zara reckons is a dud root, I wouldn’t bother.” You don’t, of course, but sit there instead with a grimace so tight your arse hurts.

In the photocopier room, it is a wonder the walls aren’t caked with blood and hair. The technology-challenged teacher you have all indulged to this point, gently instructing her in such technical mysteries as how to press the COPY button to begin copying, is in the imagination sliced and diced in a manner that would creep out television’s Dexter.

In the common room, where once it was all bonhomie, with progress reports of home renovations and swapping of tuna pasta recipes and knitting patterns, people now perform little pettinesses as an expression of mounting misanthropy. People used to sitting in the same spot much like returning migratory lapwings, for instance, find their chairs occupied by interlopers. The usurper calculates that the usurped, lest he be labelled a prat, will assume a pained expression and meekly seek an alternative. Thus does resentment pile upon humiliation in a rising fury that is exponential.

We’re all so goddamned tired, frankly, any one of us could do a Columbine in a blink. The only antidote is the Friday drinks during which people begin to display the behavioural patterns noted in survivors of the Black Death.

Manic dancing, unbridled sexual congress and what might be termed sympathy for the devil.