But we only realised just how bad things had got when a TES reporter telephoned the Department for Education and Skills press office to ask "what advice ministers would give to a new general secretary of the NUT?" A press officer, who shall remain nameless, repeated back to the reporter:
"What advice ministers would give the N....U...C?" A dumbfounded reporter corrected: "No, the NUT. You know, the biggest teachers' union, the National Union of Teachers?"
Then came a pause, a slow, exhalation of breath, as if a long-lost memory was being dredged up. Then: "Ahhhhh!"