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And next year, it could be you...

Seeing the straggling crocodile of NUT delegates along Blackpool's Golden Mile, Gore Vidal's maxim that anybody who actually wants to be president of the United States should automatically be disqualified comes to mind.

Surely there must be something wrong with someone who wants to spend Easter in a rain-swept coastal town playing tin soldiers with the union's executive, when the rest of their classroom colleagues have high-tailed it to Brittany?

Perhaps next time Mr McAvoy meets Sir Ron Dearing he should ask to borrow his National Lottery machine. Then if your NUT membership comes up as the numbered balls land, you are the lucky person to be sent to next year's conference. Or perhaps he could place Hamilton House scratch cards in Teacher magazine.

The only disadvantage of this system is that it takes at least five years of attending NUT conferences to have the slightest idea of what is going on. One way round this would be to market a virtual reality game. It could be called NUT Conference: Mortal Combat.

With joystick in hand, the rookie delegate can learn how to slay that many-headed monster, the national executive. Negotiating the labyrinthine rules, he or she will discover the merits of waking at 5am to get in cards to enable them to speak to motions, or how to make totally pointless points of order.

If this sounds more difficult than collecting the tea and biscuit money, then that is because it is.

Of course, if it gets known that wanting to go to the NUT conference leads to automatic disqualification, then the activists may get wily and affect a take it or leave it air as they swipe every scratch card in the staffroom. But there are clues. If anybody describes themself as an ordinary working teacher, then you will immediately know that is exactly what they are not.

If the new-style delegate wanders outside, even more surreal scenes beckon. In the same hotel, NUT delegates can be spied writing a motion to suspend standing orders while tots and grannies dance to Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.

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