22nd May 1998 at 01:00
In tune with fate

A deliciously spooky tale arrives from sunny Brighton. Gavin Henderson - bow-tied, trumpet-playing principal of the Trinity College of Music - had a thorny problem to solve.

Last autumn he had a copy of Joining In, a report chronicling the dwindling numbers of pupils making music in English schools - a subject close to the heart of The TES - and was of the opinion that its findings should be drawn to the attention of David Blunkett forthwith.

How, exactly, this was to be done, was the difficulty occupying Mr Henderson. As a bit of hard physical labour always aids the thought processes, Mr H took to his garden for a spot of early-morning digging while he pondered different strategies.

Just as Mr H was getting warmed up, his neighbour's balcony door was flung open, and out trotted a black labrador, followed by the unmistakable sight of the Education Secretary.

It turned out that the Labour party had hired the adjoining house for the annual conference and Mr Blunkett had taken up residence a day early.

A cheery Mr Henderson could not resist calling out: "Good morning Mr Blunkett, you're not going to believe this, but...."

Art of being English

Englishness can be a difficult phenomenon to explain to our foreign cousins, as Ken Robinson, Warwick's ebullient professor of arts education, discovered recently.

The good professor was hosting a gathering of the world's arts educators, and found the ideal entertainment on his doorstep: a concert by schoolchildren, performed for parents, in the university's arts centre.

The factor Prof R. had not bargained for was that the event had been organised along the lines of Last Night of the Proms with a few peculiar twists - including the oddly-mismatched attire of the two comperes. The male half, dressed in a purple blazer and crumpled grey flannels bore some resemblance to a long-distance coach driver, while his female counterpart was in a transparent black lace number which Liz Hurley - just might - have donned in the privacy of her own bedroom.

Anyway, there was much flagwaving and nationalistic fervour, much to the delight of the Singaporean delegate who was wondering how to transplant the same sort of thing to home territory. More bemusing was the conductor, who in time-honoured fashion was encouraging his audience to bellow Land Of Hope And Glory repeatedly and ever-louder. "I can't hear you," he taunted the ear-splitting crowd.

A German delegate nodded approvingly and smiled: "Oh, you employ deaf conductors. That's very good."

Logical but wrong

You've got to applaud the logic of an eight-year-old at Brampton junior school in Cumbria when asked to show his working on a maths paper. Below, the startled teacher found a neat drawing of a child at a desk. The effect was rather undermined by the assertion that 36 + 47 = 77. But sadly, you can't have everything.

Discipline probllem?

Thanks to reader Eric Smith for the advert from the Mersey Mart, which proudly proclaimed: "Liverpool Dog Training School Sunday Classes Starting 10th May. Also Children's Classes available."

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