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Yuletide greetings - Butter no parsnips.

Time to put away the Christmas cards and to congratulate colleges and training providers who made some of the most creative contributions to the paper mountain and health and safety hazard that is FErret's desk.

So, thanks to Barnfield College, which sent a scandalous bribe of a Christmas pudding, with a card bearing the slogan: "The proof is in the pudding." Very kind, although FErret cannot let this common mangling of the real aphorism, "the proof of the pudding is in the eating", stand. Proof is rarely found in puddings, unless you murder someone and hide the knife in a nearby dessert.

The Institute for Learning's effort, meanwhile, was notable on two fronts. Firstly for the spirited yet doomed attempt to make CPD sound festive by rebranding "continuing professional development" as "Christmas present delight".

Secondly, its e-card featured a photo of a sculpture by Morley College lecturer and artist Maggi Hambling, a 4m-high scallop-shell bearing the words: "I hear those voices that will be drowned." The institute thought the somewhat sombre message was appropriate since it works to be the voice of teachers and trainers, and because the words come from the opera Peter Grimes by Benjamin Britten, who had strong links with Morley College.

Well, it is very apt, as long as you forget the bit about the drowning, or that Peter Grimes is about a man accused of killing his apprentice. FErret urges all those working with apprentices to consider a new year's resolution not to murder them, however tempting it may seem. Or if that's too hard, at least remember to hide the evidence in a nearby pudding.

Happy new year!

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