5th September 1997 at 01:00
Oh dear. More trouble at the Welsh Office. Our Celtic mandarins' grasp of technology apparently matches their grasp of language when it comes to that all-important Welsh White Paper on education ... ie, none too firm.

Carborundum revealed last week Cynog Dafis's rage over the "unreadable" Welsh translation of the paper (they can't tell their canfyddiadau from their darganfyddiadau, the Plaid Cymru MP fumed).

Now a missive wings its way through cyberspace from weary school governor Emyr Young of Llantrisant, relating his increasingly despairing attempts to find the paper on the World Wide Web.

Mr Young turned to the web because the stingy Welsh Office is making people pay postage if they send in comments by snail mail. That nice David Blunkett on the other hand has organised Freepost.

Not only that, but time was of the essence. While responses to the English paper have a leisurely October 7 deadline, comments on the Welsh version had to be in by last Monday.

Clearly an occasion for stepping onto the information superhighway, then.

But Mr Young discovered that while the Department for Education and Employment's English website was bursting with sound and movement, the Welsh version was ... well, missing.

There's the Welsh Office site, but Mr Young reports it hadn't been updated since Christmas, a whole political landslide ago. Plenty about famous Welshman William Hague (doing something else now, apparently). Nothing about education.

Could the English boys at the DFEE help? After some scratching of heads they e-mailed him an address. Our Internet explorer eagerly logged on to find ... a dodgy old Tory Bill on rural Wales.

Finally, he found what he was looking for on the HMSO web site. Had it been worth the search?

"Just another boring website hidden in cyber space," is his rather grumpy verdict. "No coloured graphics, video clips or the voice of Ron Davies extolling the virtues of 'Building Excellent Schools Together'.

"As for the contents of the Bill, references to IT were a little vague and evasive (no, really?) but I suppose Ron will blame it all on the Tory rats for chewing the wires before they jumped ship."

Carborundum, in the interests of balance, checked with the Welsh Office. Was the White Paper on the web?

"Oh, I shouldn't think so," was the hushed reply of one press officer, sounding distinctly ill-at-ease with new technology. "We're not into the Internet very much."

A colleague of Carborundum's felt mildly embarrassed at going to a place of public entertainment on Sunday while the nation mourned. Still, she told herself, Peter Hall's Waiting for Godot at the Old Vic wasn't exactly Guys and Dolls, was it?

At the end of the show (two-and-a-half hours contemplating the meaning of life a la Samuel Beckett), Dennis Quilley, who plays Pozzo, called for two minutes' silence.

What Carborundum wants to know is: how could they tell?

Portsmouth's new secondary school is a wonder to behold - but is it the source of perhaps the teeniest bit of friction in the city?

As a colleague reports on page 7, pupils move into the Admiral Lord Nelson School next week, marking the completion of a state-of-the-art marvel built in just 20 months.

That period coincided with the hand-over of powers from Hampshire County Council to the new Portsmouth unitary authority - powers which Hampshire fought hard to retain.

The hand-over, needless to say, has not been without some acrimony, with the Lib Dem-controlled (as was) county direly predicting tiny Portsmouth would not be up to the job. As buildings go, Admiral Lord Nelson School is one hell of a way to say "Follow that."

To make matters worse, the school has a charismatic, vocal head held in high regard by colleagues, and a governing body including high-profile Lib Dems in a Labour-run city.

Hampshire has naturally made much of its investment in a building it would hand over before it would even be completed - proof, it says, of its commitment to do right by Portsmouth up to the moment of hand-over.

The city says the school should have been built years ago - and that another is still needed.

Cynics say good luck: Portsmouth will never have the resources to produce anything to match the Admiral Lord Nelson School, which already has a glowing OFSTED report in the bag.

It's no wonder Portsmouth's next school is destined to be known as the Lady Hamilton. Carborundum is too embarrassed to explain why, but it's not because they expect to be good friends.

Harrogate is known to hacks as the conference venue for shopaholics. A Carborundum colleague at the prep schools bash last week awaiting the arrival of the Man Who Inspects Schools for the Queen was amused to overhear him saying: "I'm a bit early. Do you mind if I pop over the road to a second-hand bookshop I know?" But Chris Woodhead came back empty-handed. He was about to buy Dostoevsky's The Devils when he realised it was the same as The Possessed - his holiday reading.

Finally, according to a jobs survey carried out by the Employers Forum on Age and the recruitment firm Austin Knight, the number of piano tuners in Britain has fallen in the past six years by around 4,000. The number of undertakers has risen by around 4,000. Say no more.

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