There are some fixed points in an increasingly insane world and Sir Bob Balchin - former grant-maintained schools supremo - is one of them. On meeting Rear Admiral Tippet, employed to wind down the Funding Agency for Schools, he quipped: "You are the only admiral I know who was taken on to run a sinking ship." Tippett was not amused. "He's never spoken to me since," confides Sir Bob jauntily.
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