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Spirit of the age

Britain has two national past times for young people: to go to a cheap purveyor of booze and to drink oneself into oblivion. For older people, it is to go to a cheap purveyor of booze and to drink oneself into oblivion while complaining about young people drinking themselves into oblivion.

But showing determination to change our traditional culture, Scotland's James Watt College is offering a new certificate in alcohol awareness to educate teenagers about booze - and not just which mixers go with which spirit.

No course is complete today without offering a route into employment. So in a rare example of trying to kill two birds by aiming at your own foot, students will also be trained up to work in pubs.

This is rather like running a detectives' course which includes modules on lock-picking and administering poison. And the last time FErret checked, pub landlords tended to be fond of a drop themselves.

The course claims to look at how the licensed trade promotes responsible drinking - so at least it won't take long.

Sadler's well-off?

The battle of Epping Forest over the sacking of former principal Peter Sadler just before Christmas (nice touch) could be a bloody one.

Mr Sadler believes he was undermined by allegations, and when those were not upheld he was dismissed before he had the chance to argue his case.

But his prior performance at Bicton College in Devon came under the microscope at an employment tribunal. While rejecting a member of staff's claim for unfair dismissal, it heard claims that Mr Sadler had lost the confidence of governors and saw the transformation of a small surplus into a deficit of nearly Pounds 600,000.

But Epping Forest College may have a hard time using this against Mr Sadler as it presumably carries out careful checks on candidates for senior appointments.

Fortunately, the college assures us that negotiations are underway to ensure peace in our time. Surely a payoff cannot be far away, and the only casualty will be the taxpayer.

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