I stuff my fists into my pockets as I make my way across the empty playground. It’s a cold afternoon, the sky overcast, an archetypal Monday. Just as I come up to the door to reception, it’s opened by Alfie’s Literacy and Numeracy teacher, Miss Mercier.
“Can I help you?” she asks, unsmiling. She keeps half her body inside, behind the door.
I tell her that I am here to pick up my son. He’s not very well. She stares at me, her eyes searching for something that isn’t there, her face beginning to stiffen. I clarify the name: “I’m here to pick up Alfie. I’m his dad. I know you rang his mum, but she’s actually in Brighton at the moment, so she rang to tell me he’s poorly. His tummy’s a bit sore?”