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Farewell to alms;Diary

FAREWELL then to the Funding Agency for Schools. The Diary raises a plastic beaker of warm Asti Spumante to salute the sterling work you've done for grant-maintained schools over five glorious years.

We raise it alone, since FAS staff will be off holding their farewell party tonight in the splendid surroundings of York Racecourse (pound;10 a head - but sadly no racing). Speeches will be made, gifts exchanged; tears, no doubt, will be shed.

And who are the guests of honour? Why, the funding agency's board, who by very good fortune happen to be in the city tonight.

Normally, the board meets on Tuesdays at the agency's alternative HQ in Centrepoint in London. This week, however, by spooky coincidence they have switched it to a Friday ... in York.

Happily for the board, this means they can attend the celebrations. Even more happily, they get to travel on expenses.

And most happily of all, they'll have plenty of cash left from their attendance allowance to buy drinks for the staff - especially those still seeking a new job.

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