THE Bellshill Hilton on a Wednesday morning. What else but yet another North Lanarkshire conference on raising achievement?
With the puckish consultant Bill Laar as one of the speakers, the occasion could well have been re-entitled the "Raising the Roof" conference. Yer man (he is from Skibbereen) began by congratulating his audience for being "the most handsomely turned out teachers in Europe", a circumstance which he put down to their "massive salaries".
They were, however, merely smart - not trendy.
Making a point about the recyling of idea, Laar told of an advertisement in his home town newspaper, the Skibbereen Eagle - the paper that grandly pronounced in the early 1900s: "The Eagle warns the Tsar of Russia, we've got our eye on you." The item that caught his eye was in the second-hand ads column for "One used headstone - would suit a family named O'Grady".
Talking of recycling, we fondly recall Laar's story from last year when he telephoned a Church of England school to arrange an appointment, to be greeted with: "Good morning, this is the head of John the Baptist speaking."