Skip to main content


The policy wonk rethinking your profession

The policy wonk rethinking your profession

Monday: We're all dreading this week. Simon Sodding Schama's coming in for his induction. Ever since The Gove announced at Conference that he'd persuaded Heavy Si to be the Coalition's special adviser on history, we've had his people on the phone every five minutes. Simon will require a quiet room for contemplation upon his arrival. Simon will require a fruit lunch and a string quartet from 13:00 to 13:40. Simon will require absolute silence in all Departmental corridors when swishing through in his leather trenchcoat, looking purposeful. They're even cleaning the chandeliers in the Jacobean dining room. A mocking email's doing the rounds with Schama's head Photoshopped on to a Tudor dress with the caption "Hail, Mary Queen of Swots".

Tuesday: Schama alights from his beautifully restored Victorian phaeton and sweeps into the Department with his retinue: documentary crew, make-up artists, fearsome-looking PA, walking chamber orchestra creating atmospheric incidental music. Later, The Gove escorts them on a quick tour of the Department - nothing much to see, ranks of pasty civil servants lounging in front of computers - then into the staff assembly hall for Heavy Si's rallying speech. "I know I have the body of a feeble metrosexual. But I have the heart and stomach of a king celebrity! Close-up, please. Cue music. The Department had been overthrown by the forces of Coalition. Yet. There was more upheaval on the way. And this time, revolution was to come not from the barrel of a gun. But from the dongle of the world's most famous historian ..." Standing ovation, beaming Gove. The Royal Visit has been a seamless success. Then, inevitably, he shakes hands with Sandra on the way out. "Goodbye, Mr Starkey." She curtsies. "It's been an honour." Schama flounces off, chamber orchestra in pursuit, incidental music signalling "gathering stormclouds".

Wednesday: Sandra's forbidden to speak to anyone for the rest of the week. Just as well, as today Martin Amis is here. He's been drafted in to help extinguish literacy by reviving English. We notice The Gove's tie has mysteriously disappeared when Amis arrives. Also, the secretary of state appears to be smoking a roll-up, and half-pissed on gin. An internal memo later informs us of a new combined English and German A-level. Marks awarded for spelling, punctuation and Weltschmerz.

Thursday: Busy today. Induction tours for new advisers on maths (Carol Vorderman in a catsuit), sport (Andrew Flintoff in his pyjamas) and citizenship (Lord Ashcroft in absentia).

Friday: The press love it. "Gove-ment of all the talents," smarms the Mail. If only they knew who the new secret Special Adviser on Everything is. Clue: The Gove has a man-crush on him and his name rhymes with "moany swear".

As intercepted by Ian Martin.

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you