Diary - Playground's ming dynasty

6th November 2009 at 00:00

The film crew arrived at my office. They were making a documentary about discipline in schools and they wanted to use one of ours. It had to be in a "challenging" catchment area and they had drawn up their hit list. They had cleared everything with the Rainbow Alliance, so there wasn't much I could do.

I was to take a seconded Chinese director of education with me on a tour of a "challenging" school. Another bonus was a chance for new shoes and outfit. I was discreetly told to wear flat shoes. Height difference, darling. Difficult tracking shots.

The day arrived and I was filmed over and again entering the play-ground with Lee Chang. Take 14. Why did I agree to this? Then it happened. Playground. Scrap! Scrap!

The camera crew went into over-drive as two S3 girls rolled around, punched, kicked and scratched each other. Lee Chang looked perplexed. I eventually intervened and pulled them apart - for their own safety. The producer was in raptures.

Once the baying mob had been dispersed, I asked what had occasioned the rammy. Through the blood, tears, mud and snotters, Waif One stated that her opponent had told her that her boots were minging. Lee Chang looked perplexed. "Ming?" She had apparently said that "only cows wear cowboy boots".

I asked what she had said in reply. Silence. Eventually, after several minutes had elapsed, she revealed the response which had led to the altercation. She drew herself up to her full 5ft nothing, wiped the mascara from her cheeks and spat out a mouthful of blood and what was either a tooth or a Tic-Tac.

"Ah only said that at least I didnae drap ma drawers for the motor-bikers at the chippie like she did." Quite. No cause for offence there, then. Lee Chang looked even more perplexed.

The camera crew captured the exchange for posterity. It was great television, according to Justin, the pre-pubescent producer, and he assured me he would be "discreet" in the editing. Lee Chang was still perplexed.

The head was then interviewed and asked to give his views of the playground incident. He was wriggling and squirming, and the pressure increased when take followed take.

Lee Chang and I were later interviewed in the council chamber. His English was excellent and far better than that of the two teenage mutant harridans who had given the camera crew their best day in ages. He was full of sympathy for the youngsters and explained that self-esteem and self-image were important in these delicate matters. His observations were sharp and perceptive. He only had one question. He asked what "drap ma drawers" meant.

Too much information, I thought.

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