California dreaming

If Lawrence of Arabia were alive today and looked through the haze across the desert, he would be more likely to see a camel train carrying a group of further education luminaries on a "fact-finding mission" than members of a nomadic tribe.

But I'm assured taxpayers' money won't come into the equation when another group heads off on a road trip along Route 66. Indeed, this adventure, planned to take place over Easter, will be raising money for a very worthy cause, Macmillan Cancer Relief.

The party comprises Alan Birks, a retired principal of South Birmingham College, vice-principal Mike Hopkins and, I hear, three other "old blokes"

from FE and the private sector. Oh, and two Btec media students who will film the trip.

Perhaps my cultural awareness of Route 66 is stuck in the 1960s, but I have always imagined that the whole point of such excursions is to wind up stoned in the company of Jane Fonda or someone of that ilk.

But this is 2007. When they get back, there will, instead, be a slap-up meal in Chung Ying Garden, which I am reliably informed is a "top restaurant" in Birmingham's Chinese quarter.

At least that's the plan. The celebration nosh will take place "as long as we have all our body parts intact", says Mr Birks. Hmmm.

So far, the trip has raised pound;16,000 in sponsorship. A copy of all the footage (not just the edited sections) will be rewarded with a further donation from FErret's piggy bank.

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