AS VICE-ADMIRAL Sir Anthony Tippet watches one mast sink majestically beneath the waves, he hitches his dinghy to another.
A letter appears in the Daily Telegraph from Sir Anthony, 70, chairman of the Funding Agency for Schools, expressing his sadness at Jack Straw's refusal to give Mohamed Fayed a passport.
Clearly at a loose end as grant-maintained status is abolished and the FAS winds up, he writes: "Controversial though he may be, a great many British citizens and their children owe much to (Fayed's) philanthropy. I, among few, know the extent of it." He's presumably not thinking solely of Fayed's recent gift to the nation of Kevin Keegan.
"He has never sought credit for these works ... he has a huge compassion for those in want," Sir Anthony adds gravely.
Perhaps he could help. As well as his pound;30k part-time FAS job, he chairs Halifax's education action zone (for a "nominal" pound;5,000-10,000 paid by the DFEE): both posts created by then-education minister Stephen Byers, now Trade and Industry Secretary.
Surely Steve could intervene on behalf of Britain's most famous shopkeeper? Perhaps if Harrods sponsored a zoneI?