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Delve into democracy

Politicians are at something of a low ebb at the moment: what with having to pay back their chandelier cash, or in the case of David Willetts, the shadow skills secretary, being tormented by endless lightbulb jokes. ("How many lightbulbs does it take to change a politician?")

So it's good to see that someone is trying to restore faith in the democratic system, as students from South Tyneside College visited the European Parliament, a bastion of probity and self-sacrifice if ever there was one.

Their lecturer, Samantha Lavery, said the teenagers were gripped by an enthusiasm for the important details of banana straightness regulations. "The trip certainly worked - almost immediately students were discussing the candidates and who they would vote for," she said.

Alas, they will struggle to cast a vote in support of their gracious host, as the college is under the impression that students met a Martin Callaghan MEP.

No such person exists, so let us hope Mr Callanan does not miss their 21 votes at the elections next month.

Good sports

With just three years until the Olympic Games come to London, there is still time to get sick to death of hearing about them.

Those of us in FE have a further opportunity: to get sick to death of hearing about the international skills competition WorldSkills that comes to Britain in 2011, being described as "the Skills Olympics" in the hope that some of the glory will rub off on it.

Nevertheless, FErret sends his best wishes to competitors such as 20-year- old Jack Bottomley, who has just won the semi-finals of his industry's selection competition for this year's event in Canada.

The title of that competition, SkillFRIDGE 2009 (for the air conditioning and refrigeration industry) suggests there may be some limits to ripping off the Olympics branding, however. The Fridge Olympics doesn't quite strike the Herculean note.

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