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A leg man

Poring over our the wonderfully obsequious Department for Education and Skills staff magazine Feedback (see last week's Diary regarding Feedback's definitive interview with permanent secretary David "Stormin" Normington), we were touched by an anecdote about ex Education Secretary David Blunkett by Normington's predecessor, Michael Bichard.

Bichard, who had kidney problems last year, recalled a letter from the minister to the medical team treating him: "Harm this man's brain and I'll break your legs!"

This rang a bell with the Diary and, searching our archives, we found in January this year that NASUWT leader Nigel de Gruchy had told us negotiations on teacher shortages had got a bit heated and Mr Blunkett had "threatened to break both my legs, in a jocular fashion of course". After wishing aloud repeatedly that he wanted Chris Woodhead's head in a jar, Blunkett returned to his jest in March, assuring de Gruchy that it wasn't just his legs he would break. How such wry comic genius will be missed!

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