Diary - Can't quite conceive this

4th December 2009 at 00:00

It was the night from hell. An invite to the launch of the latest Learning Initiative. Education was being attacked from all quarters, funding was disappearing like snow off the proverbial dyke, morale was lower than a Strictly Come Dancing costume cleavage - and here we were reinventing wheels, rebranding old wine and generally meeting people we met all the time anyway.

Do I get a whiff of an impending election? Everyone was false, faker than their spray tans and talking absolute jargon-strewn gibberish. Curriculum for Excellence was the main (yawn) topic of conversation - except for myself. All I wanted to do was get home and soak in a nice bath. Should I faint? Could I escape out of the fire exit? Would I be on CCTV?

I was caught by a wandering HMI - not a pleasant experience at the best of times. I felt it was an impromptu analysis of my progress in the hot seat, and the guy obviously thought he was still at work. Question after question was fired at me and, if I have learned one thing in this job, it is how to avoid giving answers.

I rattled off my standard deflecting responses. Too early to tell. Interesting. Telling figures indeed. It could take a while.

Then I had enough of this and I asked him some questions. Do you have a family? He looked shell-shocked, trying to remember the answer. Yes, he did. He had two lovely daughters. I enquired after their names. They were called Ailsa and Isla.

Quick as a flash, I recalled Victoria and David Beckham's child - Brooklyn - named after the place of conception, allegedly. A smile crossed my lips. Steady, Bridget. I complimented him on the beauty of the names. He informed me that he and Priscilla had spent lovely holidays there. Too much information! I blushed at the thought of an earlier intimate night of passion studying the first drafts of 5-14, or the exam analysis for Strathclyde Region. I suppressed a giggle.

It was the most boring conversation I have ever had. He was uncomfortable at having to be human and normal. He went on to tell me how they were doing at school, how they compared with the national average and how they were preparing for their exams. Poor wee souls.

Soon I was in the car and heading home. Himself was comatose as usual, after a selection committee meeting. Was this it? What does the future hold for me? As I lay in my bath, I heard the voice of the Reverend IM Jolly: "Cheer up, my son, it could be worse."

I suppose the HMI and his wife could have visited Muckle Fluga.

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