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The policy wonk rethinking your profession

The policy wonk rethinking your profession

Monday: We've got to raise The Gove's profile, again. Every quarter we get the results of a Recognition and Personal Rating Survey. Unfortunately, this quarter's survey expanded the constituency to include schoolchildren. Precisely 0 per cent recognised the secretary of state. Inspired guesses at who he was: Tony Blair, talking cartoon fish, some sort of famous lesbian, Slytherin housemaster, ventriloquist's dummy.

Tuesday: Scary Paula calls an emergency forward actioning meeting. We have to win over the key target group: 14- and 15-year-olds. Oh, they may be disconnected shruggy little scorchmarks now, but their status will be wholly different when the next General Election arrives. Sandra looks alarmed; does this mean we have to ... talk to teenagers? Paula gives her a look as if to suggest Sandra is deeply stupid. We all do. "No. I've set up a meeting with Taz Maniac. He heads up a youth think-tank we use from time to time, Nangbosh Exchange." Sandra gives Paula a return-serve look. "That's not his real name, is it? And what does 'nangbosh' even mean?" Paula backspins, firmly. "Who cares, he's tuned in to the street, he's coming here tomorrow, I want Mr Gove up there on the Hip Index with, I don't know, Lily Allen and Professor Green ..." Sandra looks blank. "The Cluedo character?"

Wednesday: Awkward afternoon with our youth interpreter Taz. Paula's right, his credentials are impeccable. He looks about 12, makes no attempt to hide his contempt for us and our clothes, and answers most questions obliquely, by checking his emails. We sketch out the problem. By teatime all we've got from him is that The Gove should ideally wear a balaclava. Or at least a neck tattoo. Sandra, in a moment of inspiration, asks Taz how Street Youth would rephrase "we're all in this together". He thinks for a while, repeating the phrase with a serious expression, as if parsing New Testament Greek. Then he offers me a fistbump. As we connect, he declaims: "Safe blad, makka pakka boomclunge!"

Thursday: Scary Paula very impressed. Imagine Mr Gove visiting difficult schools, looking young people in the eye, offering his fist and saying, in all sincerity, "safe blad, makka pakka boomclunge". She gazes out of the window. "Actually, he's in Peckham tomorrow. We could send him without a tie ..."

Friday: Well, The Gove's attempt at winning over young people sort of went well. He made them laugh, a lot. Especially when he experimented with the cadence of "boomclunge". We've severed all contact with Nangbosh Exchange. We had Bletchley Park Dave run Taz's stupid phrase through his Enigma software. Definitely taking the piss, but how were any of us supposed to know? Bloody kids. Inscrutable.

As intercepted by Ian Martin.

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