Those letters just keep coming in. First up, a query from Miss Markitt, an NQT in Scotland-shire. She writes: "Dear maths teacher, do you have any advice on the best way to get through the mountain of marking that comes with the job? Night after night I sit down to mark more and more jotters, and it's getting me down. Help!"
Well, Miss Markitt, you're right to point out that maths teachers the world over are busier with the red pen than most of their counterparts, but it sounds to me like no-one has yet told you the best way to get through the long dark night of the ticks. I'm referring, of course, to the use of performance-enhancing substances. Yes, I'll say it if no-one else will: just as no-one can seriously expect a Tour de France cyclist to go the distance without the occasional furtive visit to Superdrug, so too does your maths teacher need a little extra to get him or her through the evening. Heaven forbid that you should think I'm referring to illegal drugs, mind, because that would hardly fit our image. No, rather we say hello to The Glass of Red Wine. No maths teacher would think of marking at home without it.
Now, let me stress here, I'm not advocating you should mark jotters while squiffed/steaming/legless - though it might be fun to see the results, you have to admit. But one or two glasses of a well-chosen red, and trust me, that red pen will start to flow more freely. And, when you see someone forgetting that a negative times a negative makes a positive for the twelfth time in as many jotters, it won't seem quite so bad as it might otherwise.
Experienced teachers know that it's best to choose the wine to suit the class. For example, marking a Higher Ink Exercise is to become part of an age-old tradition, so obviously a decent Cotes du Rhone brings sufficient gravitas and helps you feel you belong. Marking a first year test, by contrast, is a lighter affair, well-suited to a cheeky Beaujolais Nouveau. (There being no famous Australian mathematician to speak of, by the way, maths teachers tend to reject New World wines as young upstarts that should be left to the Media Studies department, or PE.)
If, however, you ever face the prospect of having to read your School's Improvement Plan... well, get yourself a decent Islay Malt Whisky, a large tumbler and a pillow, and the pain will recede eventually. Failing that, call for Doctor Macallan...