This isn't the first time he has dreamt about Miss Pettifer. The last time it happened he made an effort to talk to her at the next PTA meeting, as a way of getting the dream out of his system. When they shook hands, in the tobacco-stained staff room which smelt of instant coffee, he had the feeling that there was something in her eyes beyond the usual struggle to remember who this particular parent was. Perhaps she was aware that she had spent at least part of one night trying to clear a space among the desks or find a cupboard where he could fuck her standing up among brooms and brushes and ironing boards. (That is a detail from the dream that had to be wrong-why would the school have ironing boards in the cupboard?) But they were constantly interrupted: people came in and out, children playing cricket in the corridors kept bursting in to ask Mr Phillips if he would be their umpire, and once Martin, Mr Phillips's elder son, came knocking on the door of the cubicle in the bathroom just as Miss Pettifer had undone Mr Phillips's fly and extracted his penis.
Reprinted from Mr Phillips by John Lanchester by permission of Putnam Pub. Group, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright (c) 2000 by John Lanchester. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
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