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Carborundum would hesitate to refer to the demonic Roger Ward as a poser, but that is precisely how he has been behaving recently in London restaurants.

Entertaining a trio of journalists, the unassuming supremo of the Colleges' Employers' Forum spent much of the meal with his elbows on the table and his wrists extending serenely skywards.

After an hour or so of this, he could bear it no longer and exclaimed, petulantly: "You know I think your colleague here is the best investigative journalist in the world. But he hasn't noticed my cufflinks!" Attention duly turned to his cuffs. And there, resplendently enamelled in red, were a pair of (solid gold) links turned in the pattern of the CBE he received in the New Year's Honours List.

Roger's secretary helpfully explained that a specialist firm had written offering Mr W the opportunity to buy the Pounds 70 cufflinks or a tie. She added, cheerfully: "It had to be the cufflinks. Roger thought the tie was of inferior quality, and not up to his standards."

After a stifling week in polluted London, Carborundum is feeling less than kindly disposed to most of those who have managed to escape to the sea. Everyone except Labour's education spokesman David Blunkett, that is, who has been having a lovely time in the Balearics. Minorca, to be precise.

The reason we're feeling so benevolent towards Mr B? Well, in the very act of booking his holiday, he proved his human fallibility. Like any responsible parent, he worked out when the schools would break up before venturing into the travel agent. A pity then, that his sons' Sheffield comprehensive actually broke up a week later than he had anticipated, forcing the embarrassed politician - like thousands of naughty parents - to spirit them away before the end of term.

It seems fair to blame the heat wave for the bizarre events last Wednesday morning at the usually staid annual conference of the Professional Association of Teachers. Where else, for example, would you get a resolution supporting a Dostoevskian belief: "It takes very little to destroy someone, just convince him that his work is useless?" Shortly before the unfortunate David Walker fell on his sword after 24 hours as the association's national chairman, the 200 "attenders" - not delegates - went into gales of laughter after the opening sentence of Mrs Mary Sanders from Bradford who was proposing the motion: "Conference fears that by the end of the millennium human communication skills will be extinct." This swiftly became known to the hacks as "the grunting into the millennium story".

Anyway, we digress. She continued: "When as a new bride I joined my husband in a downtown Gloucester parish many people took pity on the poor young curate and his wife and had us for meals."

The clock timing speeches had to be stopped while Mrs Sanders' audience composed themselves. And amid all the excitement following the resignation the man from the Sun spotted the headlines in the local Derby paper: "She's no birdie" about a sex-change ace women golfer. He went off in hot pursuit of the story.

The newspaper billboard at the station had not escaped the notice of the guest speaker, junior minister Robin Squire. He replaced his boss who had to attend an emergency Cabinet meeting. "I am definitely not Gillian Shephard," he reassured the troops.

A fascinating press release reaches the Diary, from an organisation called Friends of Classics based at Newcastle University. We repeat it, verbatim.

"NEW TATE SHOCK ROCKS TEACHERS: Scaa supremo says teachers should teach. 'Outrage,' say union bosses.

"A new storm hit the teaching profession today when controversial SCAA Chief Executive Dr Nick Tate claimed that pupils should go to school, attend lessons and be taught subjects by teachers.

"Furious union bosses condemned this latest move. The NUT chief, reading from a prepared outburst, said: 'This is typical of the hierarchichal, patriarchal, genderist fascism that typifies this government. We accept that teachers may have to go to school from time to time, and pupils too, but anything more than that simply smacks of outmoded Hitlerian dogmatism. Dr Tate will be talking about sitting at desks and doing homework next.' "Other union bosses were quick to join in. SODOFF's Nigel da Vinci said: '. . . Dr Tate should go back to the cave he belongs in. Whom does he think he is to tell my members what to do? He is living back in the Sixties with the Romans and Ancient Egyptians . . .'" A classics case of too much sun?

It is to be hoped that the Bulletin Board publication of the Department for Education and Employment begins adhering to the Secretary of State's strictures on good English in future editions. The first contained information on a course for effective team leaders, which "includes a 360-degree feedback session . . ." Que?

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