The Met Office tells us that in this region we had the equivalent of one months rain yesterday. It certainly looked that way when I arrived at the allotments this morning. Sheets of water cover large areas, the big pond resembles the Serpentine, the once magnificent sunflowers lie exhausted and battered. The hens ignored their sanitized drinkers and drank thirstily from filthy puddles. We codgers set to work on the spreading of gravel.
But we are fortunate in not being situated alongside a river. A nearby village does and many a lounge is in ruins, every possession coated in wet mud. But our homes didn’t escape completely. Our roof proved vulnerable to the fiercest rain any of us can remember, so the scaffolding will be darkening our windows any hour now.
Apart from all that everything is fine. Which is not the case at our local schools where the seemingly mad education secretary, Michael Gove, has become the man they love to hate. Never having met him I can only base my judgement on TV sightings. He comes across as bumptious, all-knowing, and to the right of Genghis Khan. So far the ‘poison dwarf’, as he is less than affectionately known in these parts, has been doing his level best to demonise the teaching profession, now he has signalled his intention to drag the whole system back to the 50s. He wishes to return to a two-level exam system, to the days when every talented child was clearly marked high flier, all others stigmatised and branded no-hopers.
In typical Gove style the news of this latest politically driven wheeze was ‘leaked’ to the media without either Cameron or Clegg being told about it. All credit for once to the Lib Dem leader who, when confronted with the news some 5000 miles from these shores, immediately made it clear that his party will block it. His reaction was that any move aimed at restoring a two-tier system is unacceptable. He is right.
Of course every teacher knows that there are moments when they would wish the disruptive minority to be as far from their sight as is humanly possible. But every teacher equally knows that any system that uses the ability, or otherwise, to pass exam papers as a means of segregation is essentially evil. Those old enough to remember the trauma of the eleven-plus make-or-break exams will remember also the sense of instant superiority or inferiority that lingers in their minds to this day.
The problem with people like Gove is that they are ideologically driven to such an extent that they believe their every thought is a progressive one. Gove and his kind have at their core a belief that the class system must be reinforced, made more entrenched. They genuinely believe that there are better class families that deserve everything the state can do to reinorce their righteousness, and that the rest are so much flotsam.
Meantime our dear leader has much to worry about, not least his impetuous decision to name Jimmy Carr as someone involved in ‘morally repugnant tax-avoidance’. Within hours he was confronted with the news that Gary Barlow is equally culpable. Since he is a leading Conservative supporter that was another matter altogether. Now the list is lengthening by the hour. This morning Chris Hoy, Wayne Rooney and Gareth Barry are amongst dozens more accused of robbing the taxman of his dues.
The word is that over the next few days dozens more will be exposed, including many leading Conservative and Labour donors. One suspects that by next weekend we will be left wondering if anyone receiving a large salary pays any tax. It is already clear that the collective cost of tax-avoidance by the wealthy costs the treasury far more than all the cuts so far imposed on what Gove would describe as the undeserving poor.
It would be interesting to know what the Goves of this world think about taxes. Probably along the lines of the legendary Sheriff of Nottingham. Perhaps Nick Clegg will emerge as a latterday Robin Hood? Probably not. Pity, he would look more sensible in green doublet!
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY; ” I have e-mail, a cell phone, a fax. I’ve got an answering machine, three phone lines at home, one in my purse, and a phone in my car. The only excuse I have if I don’t return your call is I just don’t like you”…..Alicia Brandt