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Diary - A-listers hit a high note

The HMIs returned. Red ties. Red dresses. Red noses. One silly question after another. Could they meet my directorate colleagues? No - none left. Could they meet my curriculum team? No - none left.

Could they come along to a headteachers' meeting? No problem. They wanted to follow their audit trail. Good luck to them. I kept seeing Nelson Eddy in his Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniform in the film Rose Marie: "On through the hail, like a pack of angry wolves on the trail." The Mounties always got their man. Not this time.

The learning and recreation chairman had been interviewed at length. I had written the script for him. He had been nervous at rehearsals, but I'm sure he was all right on the day. The schools which the HMIs were to visit had been selected. All the heidies were good, honest souls who really had appreciated the last-minute arrival of their unsolicited new computer equipment, especially in these trying times.

Had I ticked all the boxes? Councillors. Heidies. Parents. What about the pupils?

Inspiration had come from an unusual source - the erstwhile bane of my life, the Incredible Bulk, or my dear husband, as some knew him. He supposedly worked in marketing and had a few contacts. I asked him to see if there were any "A-listers" in or around our area on a particular date, who might be persuaded to drop in at a schools event on their way to another photo-shoot or personal appearance.

Through a Guinness-induced trance, he had promised me a name. The key event was the annual Schools Arts Festival, where all the academies gathered and the quality was invariably outstanding. The HMIs had been there to see the celebration of the performing arts and were mightily impressed.

The pupils, who coincidentally had been selected to complete HMI questionnaires later that week, were enjoying their afternoon. Then came my moment. At the end of a particularly rousing, if somewhat over- sexualised, extract from Grease, performed by a group of fifth years from Wheatside High, I took to the stage to introduce our special guests. Imagine the reaction of the youngsters when, from stage left, came the one and only Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow. The place erupted and the roof almost came off.

The guys were brilliant and sang a great cappella version of their latest hit. As they came off, I'll swear I heard a very broad Peterhead accent from both "stars" as they trousered a bundle of notes from my dear husband and headed for their clapped-out Fiat Panda.

I hope the pupils didn't struggle too much with question number six in the HMIE questionnaire: what do they think of the director of education's ability to relate to young people?

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