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Millions mulled over

The wheels of justice were grinding particularly slowly at the Leeds Administrative Court, where Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education sought to prove it was owed millions as a result of the capital funding fiasco.

One day in, and we had not even reached the point where the Learning and Skills Council realised it had run out of money. (Admittedly, in reality it took much longer than one working day for the LSC to catch on.)

Judge Langan was unperturbed, however, even as he contemplated some 2,000 pages of documents and realised that three days was not going to be enough. "If a judge ever feels sorry for himself, he should think of Lord Saville, so I don't mind," he said.

Readers will have to make up their own mind about whether the judge was consoling himself with the thought that others had dealt with far longer, more taxing cases, or mulling over Lord Saville's pound;2 million fee.

Burnt-out Cinders

FErret is proud to introduce a new feature in this column: behold the pretentiometer, designed to measure the extent of literary references in the speeches of FE minister John Hayes.

Last week's speech at City and Islington College found him already turned up to 11: two mentions for Samuel Johnson, a few steals from Blake's Milton, Robert Browning and Dickens' Hard Times and two references apiece for proto-socialists John Ruskin and Arthur Hugh Clough.

So it's a great disappointment to find that someone with such a wealth of material to draw upon is still trotting out the well-worn Cinderella metaphor for FE, which last year a reader helped us trace back to 1935 when it was already a cliche.

Since Mr Hayes has dipped into Dickens, how about the Dorrit sector? William Dorrit spent most of his life in debtors' prison and anyone who wanted to help faced the exhausting bureaucracy of the Circumlocution Office. FErret feels there are certain parallels.

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