Ed Lines

I DON’T know how you managed with your schoolaged children yesterday during the teachers’ strike. Probably you managed just like you manage on teachers’ ‘inset’ days that come around about once a fortnight.

In our house we usually discover these things on a Friday teatime. “Oh, mum, I thought Natalie might come over on Monday.”

“What love, after school?”

“There isn’t any school on Monday. It’s an inset day.”

“You had one last week!”

“No, that was a half day for Year Six induction/Year Nine parents evening…”

Cue mum and dad in last minute childcare panic.

I haven’t a clue what teachers do on ‘inset’ days that couldn’t be done in the 13 weeks they presumably spend darning the elbow patches on their tweed jackets, or putting new treads on their Jesus sandals.

(Memo to teachers unions: worried about your old age? Spend that three months doing some work and saving up for a rainy day – like us not blessed with a cushy public service cashpot!)

In fact I have a bit of a lesson today for teachers, if they all want to sit crosslegged on the floor. 

Let’s make it a touchyfeely patronising lesson, like some of the liberal brainwashed shinola that some of my son’s English and History curriculum is stuffed with.

Now then ‘children’. See that television in the corner? Very clever isn’t it? It shows magic pictures from nowhere! Can we all say “Woooo!”

Right. A bit of history. Mr Smith, tell us what TV was like when you started teaching. Really? It was black and white? There were only three channels? And you had to turn the channel over by hand? Can you imagine ‘children’? 


That television now displays millions of colours, over 100 channels, some in 3D, it plays your music, CDs, DVDs, shows photographs, you can surf the internet, pause, record and rewind live programmes – and you can control all of those functions with your iPhone! 


Now ‘children’ who knows what this is? Noone? It’s a blackboard. Where are you going Mr Smith? To report me to the head for saying blackboard? How about you sit back down before I give you a thick ear? 


That’s better. Anyone know why we don’t have blackboards and black and white tellies any more? No Smith, it isn’t because saying ‘black’ is banned in school. Miss Jones? 

That’s right, because the world’s changed. It’s changed more in the past 20 years than it did in the previous 2,000, in all kinds of wondrous technological ways, more than we could imagine, even when you started teaching. 

Anyone know what else has changed, beside televisions? That’s right Miss Jones, doctors have become very clever. They can treat and even cure most cancers, they use lasers to destroy tumours, perform microsurgery on heart patients, transplant almost anything … yes, we’re living lots, lots longer. Isn’t that good?


Now then, who knows what this is? No Mr Brown, it isn’t a toy, it’s an abacus. Hmm, you all look pretty blank. So get out your calculators. Who can tell me how much Mr and Mrs Brown need to live on a year? Twentyfive thousand pounds? So much? Well, six week world cruises in summer are expensive!

And how long will you live on average after you retire? Twenty years? So how much is … well done Mr Brown, that’s half a 

MILLION pounds you and your wife will need. Now then, hands up on the next one teachers. Where exactly is that money coming from? Noone got an answer? Thought not.

Here endeth the lesson.

PS: According to the Daily Telegraph on Thursday the ‘average’ teacher’s pension pot is ...? Yup, £500,000! Not of ‘their’ money, but of we stooges in the private sector who would have to pay £500 a month for 40 years to accumulate that. If his wife is a teacher, that’s a cool £1m.

BUT life isn’t fair, is it? You can promise a child a bike for Christmas, but if dad gets made redundant, it might have to be an EtchaSketch. At least that’s the way it used to be.

These days people’s expectations seem completely out of touch with reality. The teachers and public service unions throwing kiddylike strops are understandably upset. They were fibbed to by that nasty Mr Brown who promised them rich happyeverafters, while robbing everyone’s pension pots blind.

Those promises were completely unrealistic even without the banking crisis, which politicians disingenuously use as the great financial Satan, when it suits them. 

People are living twice as long after retirement as they were just a generation or so ago That costs, stupid! Two plus two still makes four, however many teddies you throw out of the cot.

So the teachers can stomp their feet all they like, but that won’t change things. 

And how about me and my staff, the millions in the private sector, working for far less than them, unable to throw ‘sickies’ for weeks on end, still having to get to work when there’s a dusting of snow on the ground, whose pensions will amount to twofifths of sod all?

How about us, brothers?

What’s that, ‘tough luck’ you say? Very socialist of you.

I’m sorry for public servants’ (there’s a laugh) disappointment, I really am. Maybe they’d rather drop dead at 67 on a full salary pension than live to 95 on half that? Presumably the mortgage will be paid off by the time they retire anyway. Maybe could cut back to two or three week cruises after they hit 80, eh? 

I estimate I’ll be grafting up until about 30 seconds before I draw my last breath, or lose my marbles. If you’re the betting sort, get your money on the latter.

I was working yesterday, so couldn’t go to my kids’ school and volunteer to help while their teachers did the garden. But I would have. English, history, sports, media studies,

THERE’S something I’d like to see at Wimbledon even more than Andy Murray lifting the men’s title on Sunday. It involves Maria Sharapova and those stunning legs.

No, it’s ok, the kids can read on.

I’d like an umpire to call out “warning against Miss Sharapova for gamesmanship” after the first of her ghastly shrieks, then “penalty point” to her opponent, and with a bit of luck, the umpire climbing down from his chair, grabbing one of her size10s and shoving it in her screaming gob. “Shut up woman!”

APPARENTLY Prince Harry’s new girlfriend is his cousin – eight times removed.

How on earth did they work that out? They must have gone back to Adam and Eve!

I reckon if we multiplied our relations by that much I’d be related to every single person who’s ever trodden shoeleather in Dewsbury and Batley; probably even  – gulp – Shahid Malik. Still, at least there’s no prospect of having to snog him. Speaking of Malik, people get us wrong you know. Shahid is the last person I’d wish ill upon. It doesn’t mean he’s not still on the list though! even a subject that striking teachers patently could never deliver – economics.

CRIKEY. You know the saying that you’re getting old when police officers all look like youngsters? How about when they all look like giants, too?

I met Chief Supt John Robins down at Dewsbury nick last week. He’ll probably be retired by the time he’s my age (that’s a dig at public servants’ pensions again, not at CS Robins), so no wonder they all look young. A big lad as well. 

Good job he’s such a friendly bloke – and obviously very caring about his responsibilities too.

He even has a healthy sense of humour and thick skin, always helpful when having to put up with some of my cutting remarks.

Having said that – and I’ve probably had the same chat with at least half a dozen Chief Supers in the very same office over the past 18 years – they all do.

Some have quite clearly been blowing the latest trendy ‘police management’ smoke out of their backsides, but I’ve never doubted how seriously they took their job. For the record, John Robins doesn’t come across as one of those types.

What I hope became clear to him was that I care too, but in this case police management are the ones wearing the handcuffs. 

We might have loosely the same mission, but are coming at it from opposite angles. I can use a scattergun approach, he has to tiptoe through a minefield.

Having got each other’s measure however, I can be more careful with my aim in future.

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