16th August 1996 at 01:00
Walkers enjoying the bucolic delights of the South Downs Way these past couple of weeks may have been faintly startled - at the very least - by one of the rucksacked brigade in their midst.

Yes, inhabiting the hills by day and youth hostels by night was the Diary's old friend Roger Ward, demonic supremo of the now-defunct Colleges' Employers' Forum and one of at least two hopefuls for the chief executive's job in the new Association of Colleges.

The other dead cert applying to the recruitment agency is, of course, Ruth Gee, supremo of the equally defunct Association for Colleges which was merged with Roger's outfit to form the new hybrid. Not wishing to be accused of partisanship, the best of luck to them both as they send off their CVs for the salary negotiable job.

But we digress. Roger's holiday is the subject of the day, and Carborundum - a keen walker - would have killed to have seen our old friend, previously infamous for his Rolex watch, handmade suits and shirts and black office fridge filled with Pol Roger, out on the Downs in his shorts.

Judging from the irate mobile phone call made last week to a colleague, he was not a very jolly Roger when it came to youth hostels. Yes, youth hostels were where Mr and Mrs W - not strangers to five-star hotels - laid their weary bones each evening. Separately.

Intrigued, we called him back for what turned out to be a quick rant. "Everyone assured me they were living in the modern age. Not youth hostelling you don't. It's strictly separate for boys and girls. One boy said to me: 'Here, mister. Do you want the top bunk or the bottom one?'" he growls.

Roger is neither to be placated, nor stemmed in his flow of invective. He snorts: "I went walking to get fit - it nearly killed me. I'll never do it again, I can tell you. Talk about how the other half live. Well, I can tell you that too. They live badly, really badly. There I was, 49 and thinking, well, it's a place for all ages. It's ****ing well not. There they were, 14 and 15 and saying: 'How many miles did you do today mister? What? Only 22? We did 35. Come and play soccer mister'. 'No,' I cried. 'No, I must put my feet up. '" Now that Roger knows how the other half - presumably including college lecturers - lives, might they expect a more benevolent regime should he get the new job? Somehow, we doubt it.

Casually doing a little surfing on the Internet - as one does - Carborundum comes across an old friend of the Diary, the Home for Abused Apostrophes. And we come across sights to make Esther Rantzen weep, such as the poor, abused punctuation on a newsagent's sign: "Loose tobacco's and fine cut shag's. " Not to mention the death notice for poor Glady's May.

But worse is to come, according to Sue Palmer, the bright spark behind the page and this week's back page columnist. "We'll be updating it at the end of the summer to include some of the new admissions to the apostrophe sanctuary, sent by people all over the world.

"My favourites are the double apostrophes from Texas (Fine selection of cigar"s, we"re at the end of the highway bridge) where apparently they do apostrophe abuse bigger and better than anywhere else, and the sad fallen apostrophes of Cambridge (Family Fashion,s would like to invite you to a clothe,s party). Such lack of self-esteem! We are tending them carefully. "

She adds: "I also had a lovely note from a teacher at Malvern Girls' College - or if a local paper is to be believed, Malvern Girl's College - 'We have an excellent pupilteacher ratio!' the teacher wrote."

To save readers all the trouble of searching through pages of introspective Californian bulletin boards, this is the address of the Home for Abused Apostrophes: http:www. nuff.ox.ac.ukusersmartinlanguagelive.htm. You can even surf from there. There's a natty picture of Sue's headmaster hubby Pete Brinton, which catapults you neatly into the West Bromwich Albion supporters' page. Which is, let's face it, the great unknown.

There were giggles and frantic e-mailing over at the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority when the front page of Tuesday's Daily Telegraph was spotted. Top left-hand corner: the main story headlined "Lessons in morality for every pupil", featuring SCAA's Virtue and Good Works think-tank suggesting that all pupils should be taught to challenge values or actions harmful to others, alongside findings that values promoted in society include successful deception and not getting caught.

In the bottom right-hand corner: a mysterious advert saying merely: "How to have an affair and not get caught. See Page 4." It referred to a car ad, but as our mole snickers: "An unfortunate juxtaposition."

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