Arnold's World

16th January 1998 at 00:00
A day in London - although it can seem an eternity when you're in charge of a school party - isn't long enough for even the liveliest crocodile of pupils to take in all the delights. It would be so much more convenient if the capital's many fine cultural institutions threw in their lot with the two opera companies who have been told to share the same building.

The same premises could also house The Haywain and a few other faves from the National Gallery; the Natural History Museum's tyrannosaurus; a couple of the British Museum's mummies; a horse-guard; the orb and the sceptre from the Tower; and, of course, Madam Tussaud's Jack the Ripper. Then all it needs is a couple of feedable pigeons; a supply of burgers at exorbitant prices; an Underground escalator with a hand-written "Out of Order" notice; and a clutch of Swedish tourists with back-packs asking if this please is the way to Marble Arch.

Finding a suitable venue needn't be a problem. Everything that children could ever want to see would fit nicely into Mr Mandelson's Millennium Dome. Greenwich, however, is not the ideal location. Far more sensible to relocate the Dome so that it's within easy reach of all parts of the kingdom. Somewhere near the junction of the M1 and the M6 would do - due west of Kettering near the Happy Eater.

It goes without saying that today's teachers aren't a patch on their predecessors, some of whom I intend to celebrate in this column. As on the page opposite, I too am doling out bouquets - but mine are of barbed wire. The first recipient is the aptly named Miss Fowler Tutt. As a school mistress in Lewes, Sussex, during World War I, she orchestrated the successful campaign to have the town's one great work of art, Auguste Rodin's The Kiss, exiled to the Tate for fear that it might "inflame the passions''. It has taken nearly 100 years to right the wrong: last week it was announced that the most famous snog in the world would be returned to its rightful place in time for the millennium. I trust that Miss Fowler Tutt is turning - decorously, of course - in her grave.

There's another version of The Kiss in the National Museum of Wales, where I went to remind myself that it's possible to view the work without feeling the urge to Tutt-Tutt-Tutt. On the bus home, a couple of teenagers - fully clothed, I hasten to add - were entwined in exactly the embrace that Rodin captured forever. Perhaps copies of the painting should be erected in every sixth-form study area, if only to convince young adults that fine art can be as relevant to their own lives as Neighbours or Oasis lyrics. And, to remind them that there are sixth-form pursuits almost as exciting as canoodling, Rodin's The Thinker could be placed alongside.

In the same week that the general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association warned that the Government's training scheme for headteachers would turn out a stream of "clones'', a Chicago physician launched the world's first human cloning clinic. Rather than standing in the way of progress, SHA should be selecting the one individual from whom all future heads could be cloned. Among the front-runners are sure to be Mr Byers, Professor Barber and, of course, Mr Woodhead. However, it might be wiser to opt for someone with more obvious appeal to pupils and parents such as Mr Frank Bruno, Mr Chris Evans, Cilla Black or the Queen Mum. I'm backing Tinky Winky.

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