Ed Lines

I DON’T think I’ve ever been in a school staff room. I’ve been in the headmaster’s office a few times, hands clasped behind my back, shamed head staring at the carpet, but never a grown-up staff room.

I have this image of teachers during break, sedately dipping their Digestives in their cuppas, dreading the prospect of yet another hour confronting a room full of horrid little bar stewards.

The female PE teacher shimmies around the room in her short-short hockey skirt, deliberately playing havoc with the blood pressure of the Head of Maths.

Conversation then swings to the subject of the ‘school trip’. This is usually raised by the male Head of PE.

The atmosphere perks up, except amongst those teachers who have already graduated to wearing suede brogues and jackets with leather elbow patches. They’re beyond help or hope. They dip-dip away, daydreaming of a Ginger Nut or Bourbon at afternoon break – and early retirement.

“Righty-ho!” effuses the lithe and virile, track-suited Mr Smith. “Last year’s three-week tour of South Africa was a resounding success with great memories of the vineyard tour, safari and sailing round the Cape. Shame the Soweto Boy’s Club couldn’t raise a football team, but the game of five-a-side our pupils enjoyed on the beach was clearly of great physical and educational value.

“And at least they didn’t need psychiatric counselling when we got back, unlike the previous trip to Australia, when we were beaten out of sight at everything from rugby and netball to the staff beer-chugging challenge.

“Anyway … suggestions for the next trip, anyone?”

Just like in a classroom full of six-year-olds, sitting on the mat at story-telling time, hands shoot up with gleeful abandon. Me sir, me sir!

“Yes, Mr Jones?”

“Well, I’m sure the skiing trip to Val d’Isere was thoroughly enjoyed by all who went last winter, but I have a terrible time with chilblains. I thought perhaps we could go back on a summer walking tour of the Alps?”

Mr Smith strokes his fashionably short beard. “Hmm. Not sure the pupils will fancy trekking up and down steep hills for a week. Too much like hard work. And we don’t do mountaineering in PE. Anyone else? Miss Brown?”

“I was thinking somewhere like Barbados. Golden beaches, the gentle lapping of the Caribbean, catamaran trips up the coast, fabulous seafood, stunning sunsets...” (at which Miss Brown flutters her eyelashes at Mr Smith, licks her lips and drops him a cheeky wink).

Around the staff room, rheumy and disillusioned eyes light up like Oxford Street at Christmas.

“Hold on!” interjects Mr Grimes, the deputy head. “We don’t have a cricket team and surely that’s what they play in Barbados!”

For a moment the room holds its collective breath. Dash it! But Mr Smith, eyes transfixed on Miss Brown, isn’t just nimble on his feet.

“Not to worry – it’s time we dedicated ourselves to spreading the football gospel! Might even get a grant from Sport England towards it … Barbados here we come!”

MEAN-SPIRITED? Not if you consider the case of Horsforth School in Leeds, whose parents are being asked to shell out £1,650 for a ‘football and netball’ trip to Barbados.

Their hotel, Butterfly Beach, is a smashing little beachfront place, but it’s not Sandy Lane. You can get a week’s half board including flights for £739. And parents are being asked to stump up an extra £900? I always wondered about these jollies – do the kids pay for the staff?

As for football? Barbados is no Brazil, for sure.

Horsforth parents are up in arms, not surprisingly.

It puts a lot of pressure on parents when a child comes home sick as a parrot because their best friend is going on a trip of a lifetime and the best they can manage is a week in a caravan at Skipsea (and there’s nothing wrong with that, mind you).

The school has defended itself, saying it puts on lots of more affordable school outings.

I’m not sure if the headmaster was grinning and lathering himself in Ambre Solaire when he said that, but somehow I don’t think the kids whose consolation prize is a day at Flamingo Land will be overly chuffed.

IT MAY or may not surprise you, but I largely agree with the ruling of High Court judge Mrs Justice Pauffley this week, who said it was allowable for a father to smack his child – within reason.

However, what I would happily throw this patronising cow in the stocks over, is her reasoning – it’s okay because the father in question is an immigrant. Special circumstances. We should make allowances for the ‘different cultural context’.

Don’t stop there sweetheart! Go on, rubber stamp the forcing of young girls to marry first cousins so they can bear deformed children, while you’re at it.

Grooming and gang rape of children? Perhaps we need to give them time to adjust to ‘our ways’, eh?

Stupid woman. Most of the Rochdale and Rotherham rapists were born here, just like the jihadists flocking off to join Isis. They know the law – or more pertinently, they know it is only loosely applied to people flashing the Koran as their get out of jail free card.

The point is not the moral compass of this judge regarding the rights and wrongs of chastising children. It is the patronising hypocrisy of the woman who, of all people, should uphold the idea that the law is the law.

She’s right about one thing – there  is a ‘different cultural context’ to blame for this country’s many woes. It’s the fairydust world of people like this judge – Dame Anna Evelyn Hamilton Pauffley, a private boarder at Godolphin School, graduate of the University of London, called to the bar (Middle Temple) in 1979, being empowered to lord it over real people, trying to live in the real world.

Presumably, papa never put young Anna over his knee. Or perhaps he did, and that’s the problem. That, or she wakes up in guilty cold sweats over owning a golliwog as a child.

OH DEAR. It seems ousted MP Simon Reevell didn’t take his Parliamentary demise with much grace.

Traditionally members who lose their seats, however bitter the defeat might be, hold a gathering to thank their party faithful, their loyal campaign team, to say farewell and bon voyage.

Word from embittered local Tories suggest the one-term Reevell just packed his bags and beggared off with nary a bye or thank you – just a message directing people to contact new MP Paula Sherriff.

I’m sure members of the Dewsbury and Mirfield Conservative Association will get over the snub. After all, in selecting a part-time MP as out of touch with local people as Reevell was, they got what they asked for.

I say that as someone fond of quite a number of them. Long-serving Mirfield councillor Martyn Bolt is an exemplary public servant and a good man. In Dewsbury, indefatigable campaigner Mark Eastwood deserves a shot at serving on the council, but seems destined not to break the Labour stranglehold.

With the conniving Sayeeda Warsi long gone, and now Reevell, there’s the opportunity for the group to find a strong candidate for 2020.

Word worryingly leaking out however is that Imtiaz Ameen, having roundly failed to woo the Batley and Spen electorate, is already being cast as the Tories’ favourite to try to buy the ethnic vote.

New MP Sherriff was so worried over Dewsbury’s Muslim block possibly not turning out for her that on election night – allegedly – she almost didn’t make the count.

Now it sounds like desperate Conservatives, convinced their core white support would vote for anyone they put up, fancy pulling the ethnic rug from under her feet next time in the shape of Ameen.

I never thought I’d be a banner-waving Labour supporter, but to keep Ameen out I’d make an exception. Any man in cahoots with Terry Zaman is by definition, in my opinion, unfit for public office.

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