Being maligned by Midsomer is sheer murder

20th August 2010 at 01:00

When dropping into school this holiday I did not expect to walk in on a murder investigation. My customary day of quietly overhauling and relaunching my desk's cruelly derided filing system has - until now - been a peaceful and entirely homicide- free experience.

This time, the forensics moving in alongside me made for a very different filing experience. In fairness, the site was probably overdue a homicide. Over the past 13 years, there have been at least 100 gruesome murders inside our small catchment area and a similar number again in the neighbouring regions.

Forget New York. Our seemingly cosy yet lethal Buckinghamshire-Oxfordshire rural borderland area has apparently seen a higher incidence of murders per head in the past decade than in any other non-war zone in the world.

The Chilterns may look mushy picture-postcard on the surface but the communities in our catchment area contain an alarmingly high percentage of weird, hateful families. Each village appears to offer a seemingly endless supply of rich cads hurtling around in sports cars, with or without a similar number of flouncing, duplicitous young women.

The list of illicit affairs is endless and there are scores of elderly eccentrics harbouring dark secrets within their floral country cottages. As for the people who live up at the manor - don't get me started.

Well, you certainly might believe all this to be the case if the depiction of our region in Midsomer Murders were anything to go on.

Given that our school is right in the midst of so much of the televised carnage, I suppose it is inevitable that Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby will eventually close in on the school itself and start asking questions.

Those who might have previously thought Thame to be a fairly soft option for a teacher will have surely revised their thoughts after year upon year of Midsomer slaughter. Just imagine what it's like for us to teach the children in such a region, with their freakish parents and their weird, blood-spilling neighbourhoods. Every Midsomer child is surely troubled and twisted by all the personal, family and community "issues" that have come to plague our poor catchment area since the first episode in 1997.

But perhaps DCI Barnaby will read it rather differently. Maybe he wonders if our school itself has, for generations, been the root cause of the apparently casual attitude to murder and sex among the local populace. We are the largest and most influential education provider in the district and we could be seen to be the common connection between all these outrageous villages.

Which elements of the school's citizenship and personal and social education courses, for instance, are we perhaps getting horrendously wrong? Could it even be that sections of our humanities department have been overrun by teachers secretly intent on spreading devil worship and satanist practices?

Far-fetched, yes, but that's how it is in Midsomer land. This is apparently the final series. Perhaps Inspector Barnaby is at last closing in on the source of all this evil.

Stephen Petty, Head of humanities, Lord Williams's School, Thame, Oxfordshire.

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