18th August 1995 at 01:00
Unpleasant stories are the stock-in-trade of the Diary. Today's is so revolting that readers of a delicate constitution - whether natural or self-inflicted - might just care not to read on. But this is a stirring tale of muck and money.

Picture the scene, familiar from a million parent-teacher association meetings held up and down the country every term. "We need to raise Pounds 5,000 for the new minibus," goes up the cry.

This was precisely what happened at Deacon's School in Peterborough, and the idea of a lottery was hit upon. But how were the numbers to be selected? David Young, a mole on the governing body, takes up the story.

"Linda, our learning support assistant, suggested we sold squares on the school field and got a cow to 'splat' on one of them . . . Coming back down to earth we were faced with problems. We are an inner-city multicultural school. Where would we get a cow? If we got one, would the animal rights activists turn their attention from Brightlingsea and set up their picket line in the school driveway? Would we offend anyone by using a beast, held sacred to some of our ethnic minorities, in such a demeaning way?" A cow, codenamed Daisy, was located, but sadly a local(ish) MP, John Major, felt able to refuse the honour of officially launching the afternoon's bovine events.

Mr Young continues: "As the tickets were peddled buyers could not resist making predictable remarks. What happens if: the cow is constipatedmakes more than one splatthe splat lands on the line? Is it the first splat or the more copious to count?

"It would be necessary to write a set of rules with the care needed for a legal document. The cow must not be influenced by unsporting actions.The cow must not be given illegal substances such as prunes."

However, such plain sailing was not to continue. Two days before the event, Daisy dropped out. The governor in charge of bovine acquisition had a solution, however. "We can get a bull called Dominic," she explained.

Mr Young remained to be convinced. "Would our townie clientele spot the difference? Would the presence of a bull have an adverse effect on the turnout? I was assured that the bull was very friendly . . ."

It also turned out to be a dwarf, the technical term for which is apparently a Dexter. However, all's well that ends well, according to our mole. "Dominic was walked over the punters' plots and swiftly allayed my worst fears of a constipated bull." Meanwhile, the minibus appeal is some Pounds 1,250 the richer while the winning punter swapped her splat for Pounds 400.

And on the same money-raising note... Acklam Grange School from Teesside is now Pounds 1,000 better off after collecting a cheque from a giant sausage. This is not a joke.

The school beat off competition from almost a thousand others to sizzle into the lead of "Mr Lazenby's Sausage Scholarship" (this is not a joke either) with a recipe involving pork, puff pastry and cheese sauce.

One paragraph from the press release makes Carborundum's mind boggle. "Presenting the Pounds 1000 to the girls was 'Kid Lazenby', a 7ft tall giant sausage character. Kid Lazenby was accompanied by Richard Lazenby, sausage guru and managing director of Mr Lazenby's who presented Acklam Grange's home economics teacher with a framed Sausage Scholarship certificate." Oh, dear.

Grant-maintained school heads are still shaking their heads bemusedly after meeting Andrew Turner of the Grant-Maintained Schools Foundation on the subject of maternity leave for teachers. Could some help not be given with financial cover, they asked, since if a busload of teachers were immolated in a motorway pile-up the affected schools would at least receive some assistance. Mr Turner paused, in that other-worldly way he has, before pronouncing: "If a coachload of teachers crashes on the motorway, everyone knows that's an act of God. Pregnancy is self-inflicted." It is not known whether Mr Turner has a biology O-level.

Unfortunately, the heatwave can't be blamed for what has to be the most oddball Parliamentary Question this year, asked by one John Battle, Labour MP for Leeds West who unaccountably has previously failed to come to Carborundum's notice.

What plans, he enquired, had the Secretary of State to introduce gardening into the national curriculum so as to equip school-leavers with the skills needed to grow vegetables? Minister of State Eric Forth, demonstrating that parliamentary nimbleness for which he is justly famous, contented himself with pointing out that no changes were due in the curriculum for the next five years.

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