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Nigel loses to carpet-bagger

For a moment, it seemed as if the world had come to its senses. Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, has long laboured for the good of our schools with little acknowledgement. So, as he and fellow senior NASUWT panjandrums flew into Bangkok airport last week to attend a conference of teacher unions from around the world, they were surprised as well as delighted to find a red carpet and welcoming party outside the plane.

"I thought it seemed an appropriate welcome for the NASUWT leadership," Nigel confides to us on a crackling line from Thailand.

But just as the old stager got up from his economy-class seat to straighten his hair for the impending ceremonies, someone pointed out a rather jaunty-looking poodle skipping out of first class and onto the red carpet ahead of him. The saluting was frenetic.

The awful reality began to dawn: perhaps the welcome wasn't for Nigel after all!

"This dog was followed by a couple, who were laden with Harrods bags, who I was later told were the Crown Prince of Thailand and his consort.

"It was all a bit disappointing," Nigel says.

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