Arnold's World

3rd April 1998 at 01:00
Like Oscar Wilde's Lady Dumbleton in The Importance of Being Earnest, I think 35 is a perfectly satisfactory age - and, in fact, have been so for very many years. For confirmation of this, you simply have to consult my CV where you'll also find out about my Pulitzer Prize, and my heroic performance in the quarter-finals of Mastermind.

My CV isn't so much biography as an extended exercise in wishful thinking. I have no qualms about this. As far as I can see everybody is doing it. Hardly a day goes by in which yet another eminent doctor hits the headlines when it's discovered that the only qualification he has is a Red Cross certificate for folding a triangular bandage.

City types are no better. A survey carried out earlier in the year revealed that one in four applicants for top jobs in the financial sector lied in their CVs. It's a policy I'd heartily recommend to ambitious teachers. Start with your O-levels. If you are unhappy with any of your grades, you can make the necessary adjustments, safe in the knowledge that no one is ever going to take the trouble to check them.

In my own case, I included biology in my list of passes. Although it wasn't one of the subjects I did at school, it's always struck me as being the sort of thing at which I'd excel. I can't say the same for Sanskrit, but added it to bring my passes at O-Level up to the round two dozen. I sometimes wonder when I found the time to win my five Welsh schoolboy rugby caps, the Young Musician of the Year award, a Duke of Edinburgh Gold and my impressive collection of Blue Peter badges.

I was equally successful in university - or universities, I should say as I seem to have attended most of the better ones. I have almost as many degrees as a Fahrenheit thermometer. When compiling your CV, it's important not to push your luck. For example, it would be quite absurd to claim that you were one of The Beatles. However, there is no harm in stating that you played in the brass section on two tracks of Rubber Soul.

In the interview you could also volunteer the information that you and John Lennon shared a bedsit in Birkenhead where you taught him the chord sequence for what was to become "I am the Walrus". But remember that nobody likes a bighead. Boasting is always more effective if you are suitably self-effacing. So, readily admit that you have not been knighted for your services to education. However, in the interview tell them - in the strictest confidence - that you were approached by the powers that be but felt obliged to ask for your name to be withdrawn. Say you did so on the grounds that there could be as many as five or six teachers in the country who are more deserving of the honour than yourself.

You needn't feel guilty about any of your little white lies when you apply for a job in teaching. The upbeat literature you receive from the school extolling the excellent facilities and sympathetic management team is almost certain to contain as many porkies as the CV you send in response. And if you don't get the job, don't be disheartened. Remind yourself that there will be plenty of other career opportunities. Such optimism is quite appropriate in someone aged 35.

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