Chris, who dead?

7th August 1998 at 01:00
Airkissing, zero tolerance and even dangly bits have made it to respectability this week in the new edition of Roget's Thesaurus. How long, the Diary wonders, before they are joined by Reggiecide?

Not regicide, you understand, but Reggiecide: the art of murdering the Registered Inspector leading an Ordeal by the Office for Standards in Education at a school near you, sometime soon. As far as The TES knows, this has not yet happened (in real life, at any rate) but is the subject of a whodunnit to be published in the autumn and targeted directly at the schools market.

And guess what? Author Bob Bibby found time to write it . . . in between leading school inspections. Was he, the Diary wondered, inspired by the nagging worry that heads and teachers might, er, want to murder him?

This thought has apparently not crossed his mind. "Oh no, it was more to do with the inspector angle. Some of the work involved in going into a strange school every single time makes it feel like being a detective going in to solve a case."

Anyway, Mr B's fictitious school - drawn, he says, from 20 years in teaching before turning to inspection - has a lively cast of potential murderers, including the 40-ish head, the deputy he has been Levinskying, a pot-smoking music teacher and a redundant year head with a grudge. And that's just for starters.

Does Chris Woodhead, the Man Who Inspects Schools For The Queen, make a guest appearance? "He's mentioned, once, by name," says Mr B cautiously. "I do have to be careful, because I'm working in the field."

Anyway, Mr B is not packing in the day job(s) - he's also been an English adviser and university lecturer - although he is planning to write more sleuthing sagas for his York-based Pierrepoint (geddit?) imprint, but there are no plans to set them in schools.

Recommendation comes from Anne Barnes, general secretary of the National Association of Teachers of English: "It made me wonder why more murders aren't committed during OFSTED inspections."

Worried Reggies take note: the cyanide was in the coffee.

* A bird in the hand

The exceedingly tall Terry Waite might look as though he was of an athletic inclination, but not so. The former special envoy to the Archbishop of Canterbury, famous for his time in captivity in Beirut, told the annual conference of the Central Council of Physical Recreation that his only real sporting achievement was to start the London Marathon from near his home in Blackheath.

But thereby hangs a tale: he was striding across the common to do his bit when he stopped to say a brief hello to a woman and her two children who were sitting on a park bench, then went on his way. Later that week he received a letter in which she explained that her son, Jamie, aged six, spied him from afar and told his sister, Janice, aged four, "Look there's Terry Waite. He was a hostage for a long time."

His mother asked: "Did you notice my daughter staring at you? After you'd gone she said: "Was that man really an ostrich?" Susan Young

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