Everyone loves to watch Morecambe and Wise, and I was reminded recently of one of their classic TV specials, when Eric was conducted by Andre Previn, the then principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, playing Grieg's Piano Concerto number something-or-other.
The result was an ear-splitting, painful, but hilarious rendition. When Mr "Preview", as Eric called him, stopped the performance and asked Eric, deadpan, why he was playing all the wrong notes, Eric leapt from the piano stool, grabbed him by the lapels and answered: "I'm playing all the right notes . but not necessarily in the right order!"
The reason I remembered this show was because I had come across a young student whose spelling was appalling. Her attempts at some words were so bad that even the spell-check on her computer gave up trying to guess her meaning. I tried to explain to her that this was a problem that needed urgent attention, because in later life she would have difficulty in getting interviews for jobs as her application forms would be rejected out of hand.
Days later, her mum was on the phone complaining that I had upset her daughter by telling her she would never get a job. Fecklessly trying to champion the girl's abilities, she insisted that her keyboard skills were excellent. "She has been assessed and can type over a thousand characters a minute," Mum said.
I can't recall my exact answer, but it was probably pathetic because we are conditioned to adopt a pose of appeasement when confronted by such earnest parents. I just wish I had had the courage and wit of Eric Morecambe to form an appropriate response.
The writer teaches business studies. Send your worst parent stories to firstname.lastname@example.org. Those published will receive 50 in Mamp;S vouchers.