Feng shui burns fingers;Opinion

26th March 1999 at 00:00
WE learn something new every day. Thanks to the EU I now know that a courgette is not a courgette if it fails to reach a certain length, thanks to UNESCO I've got a fair idea how many separate words a dialect must possess before it's deemed to be a language and thanks to President Clinton I now know the technical difference between a fumble and an affair.

This is an increasingly regulated world, something that infuriates my friend, Wild Rosemary. Rose is not good at being told what to do. She's the kind of woman who can feel her driving rights infringed by a traffic light. The only kind of law Rosie likes is one that she can take into her own hands, which does not make her ideal head of department material. But that's what Rosie is, and at my daughter's school.

Rose's latest jape was to get her new boyfriend, Henk, to come in and feng shui the classroom. Fortunately Mrs Blowsy, head of lower school, never found out about the illicit weekend Rose and Henk spent deflecting piles of bad chi into the classroom next door. She even attributed the novel realignment of desks to some over-enthusiastic cleaners.

All would have gone well if Henk had not suggested that certain areas in the classroom needed repainting. "Orange is the symbol of energy and creativity," Rosie told me. She also told Mrs Blowsy and Mrs B was sympathetic until it was discovered that orange is not, however, one of the fire-proof paints available on the LEA's palette. "Are you seriously telling me that a child is likely to set fire to the walls?" Rosie exploded. "The desks are made of wood, the exercise books of paper and I am not wearing a single flame-retardant fabric but our walls have got to be this municipal pink or municipal cream because those are the only colours that don't combust!" It was Henk who came up with the solution. An industrial strength flame-resistant orange with which he'd once feng-shuied an iron foundry but then, alas, Gus Liebergelt the business manager got wind of Rose's plan. Gus is new at my daughter's school and his policy of "opening up access" requires that nothing is done which might deter fee-paying members of the public from using the building at night.

Something else I've just learned: the user non-friendliness of orange.

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