By Simon Lelic
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Extra resources for A Thousand Cuts
It’s fucking disgusting. The main bit, where they serve the food, it’s not too bad but in the back, with the cookers and the bins, it’s rank. I see what I had for lunch the day before, a pile of pork all glistening with fat like it’s been run over by a herd of slugs, just left on a tray in the sink. And there’s stuff all over the floor, lettuce gone soggy and brown, and peas with their guts splattered and smeared all over the tiles. I almost throw up. I have to swallow it back down. But I’d rather eat vomit than eat in the canteen again, I swear.
Go on, have a guess. What do you think I teach? Oh. I see. Let’s see. And I’m watching him and I’m smiling and he’s smiling and we both know that he knows but he’s afraid to say. Well, if I had to guess . . Go on, I say. Just have a guess. If I had to guess . . Just say it. You know. I know you know. If I had to guess, I would say . . No, I’m going to go for . . Yes. That’s it. TJ, you teach physics. Cunt. I mean, excuse the French, but seriously, what a cunt. I should have thumped him one right there.
But they were asking the wrong thing. She had found what she was looking for - she had found what she had been sent to discover - but she had found out more besides. The question was what to do about it. The question was whether to do anything at all. Do you have any idea, Detective Inspector May, of the crisis the teaching of mathematics is facing in this country? Of course not. Why would you? Do you have a pension, Inspector? Do you have a mortgage? You pay rent, though. Money comes in and money goes out.