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His friend in the south

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, made his customary visit north of the border last week to see his pals in the Educational Institute of Scotland.

It was customary but, on this occasion, it was his final visit to the EIS's annual shindig, as retirement beckons. He delivered a fitting tribute to Ronnie Smith, his opposite number, which, since this was an occasion for generosity, went down well.

What could not go down well was McAvoy's parting gift from the institute - not because he was not pleased to receive it, but because there was nothing in it. "Something very unusual at an EIS conference - an empty glass," McAvoy explained.

As delegates might have said later during one of their major debates, "a case of glass sizes."

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