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Beef and bishops

John Travers, the directors' new president, recalled his first week in the job in North Ayrshire when he was looking forward to confronting the great educational issues. Instead he was pitched into the BSE crisis and received a fax from a major school dinner supplier.

The fax read: "Further to the recent uncertainty regarding beef, I am happy to be able to guarantee that the following products supplied to you by our company contain absolutely no beef or beef derivatives: "Beef burgers Economy burgers Beef sausages Square sausages Scotch pies etc."

"Well," sighed Travers, "I suppose we had always suspected it."

It was also the year of difficulty for the clergy, he told the directors in his presidential address. A priest (no names, of course) had told him of a bishop who, with the straightest of faces, confided that he did not feel celibacy would be abolished in his life time but "possibly in my children's lifetime".

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