Dross doesn't appeal to one

27th June 2003 at 01:00
So the Coalition's agents have taken on the task of rooting out old language and promoting the new. Forget Gaelic, Scots and English. Rejoice in Dross.

Dross is outsourced from Acquiesce (AQS), a sub-contractor for the Wisdom Ministry (MiniWis). It may be no accident that the best Dross comes from the heart of the extinct collieries, in Midlothian.

Named after the smallest coal used to close down fires at night, Dross is language pounded down by Qualmens - and indeed Qualwomens - hidden away slaving in their mirrored rooms.

For quality Dross can dampen any debate, or hope, or rational conduct, as it arrives in schools on its circular belt. For that is what AQS is paid to do. It sends out Dross. For that is how MiniWis likes it.

On May 26, more Dross came round, about exam appeals. AQS now finds appeals, well, unappealing. Cost, mainly. Appeals are now "a great strain on the system" and Dross continued: "In all cases where you propose to submit an appeal for 10 per cent or more of candidates in any single national course we will require from you, as head of centre, a written rationale explaining the exceptional circumstances which have affected the candidates' performance." Thus, with a shift of a Dross-postrophe, the teacherly notion that appeals refer to individuals vanishes.

Collective reasons only are required: "The boiler exploded, an invigilator had whooping-cough. Plus a total eclipse."

But hold your appealing horses. "Where we have difficulty in understanding the rationale, we will contact you to seek further information."

What the Dross-producers might as well go on to say is: "This contact will take place ordinarily at 4am, when you will be required to accompany a senior AQS manager to a MiniWis Agency, at which facility you will take a Reproval Test (approved in principle by the teaching organisations) under controlled conditions of organisational pressure, so that AQS, through robust procedures endorsed by The Coalition, can offer immediate benchmarking on the level of invalidity of your claim."

It becomes difficult, after a time, telling your artifice from your Orwell.

But this summer, if you pass AQS (may AQS pass you!), you will recognise it by a chiselled motto, in Granitette above the revolving door.

Numquam ignorantia nisi arrogantia. Dross translation: "Numpties, we ignore your needy call." And remember, as winter falls, with the smallest coal, you need to give it the poker in the morning.

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