A tortuous tour of duty

6th April 2007 at 01:00
I am to take Councillor Wilson round "his" patch of schools on his farewell visit. He is not standing for re-election, preferring to take the king's shilling or, to be more precise, the king's 20 grand.

I pick the good elected member up at council HQ, and see that he has had an active evening of "constituency work". He was obviously so engrossed in democratic debates, pressing issues and addressing the needs of his electorate that he had forgotten to shave, change his clothes or polish his shoes.

He started the journey with a rant against the latest campaigns of the local SNP, Labour, Liberals and Conservatives. I was a model of non-committal comment, agreeing with everything he said.

First up was Green Lane Primary, and we were greeted by the heidie - my pal Joan. She had been well briefed by me and we diverted him into a lengthy coffee and scones session. Flattery got us everywhere.

He was a self-made man who worshipped his own maker. He had single-handedly brought enlightenment to the schools, improved the buildings and appointed the best teachers. He knew a good school when he saw one, and he didn't need reports and tables to tell him. I wondered why he was stepping down, when he was obviously so well-qualified for political work.

Joan took him on a tour of the school, and every class was subjected to a quiz from the elected embarrassment. Questions ranged from mental arithmetic, capital cities and dates of obscure battles to heights of mountains. The children were perplexed. I looked at Joan. She was perplexed.

After two further visits, four coffees and about six scones, the good councillor was on top form. Questions to the classes grew harder. He was disappointed that not many P1 kids knew where Edward the Confessor died, and felt it was an absolute disgrace that not one of the P7s had a clue about the height of Mount Fuji.

Councillor Wilson was planning where we would have our lunch. The thought of another two school visits in the aftermath of a cheeky wee Chardonnay was too much to bear.

Councillor Wilson ate heartily and had four wee refreshments. We got back into my car and I slowly turned the heating up full blast.

Then I put on one of my relaxing CDs. I pressed the electric seat heater.

Soon Councillor Wilson was snoring like a baby. Later I delivered him back to council HQ. What had he thought of Wallace Primary?

"Poor school. The director needs to get a grip of that heidie."

He knows a good school when he thinks he sees one.

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