The first tattie o Scone

10th January 2003 at 00:00
THE year that's awa. And the Executive that's nearly awa wi it.

Foxes are now supremely safe to saunter from Selkirk to Ceres, bin-raiding the Big M. So much for the uneatable. As for the unspeakable: the Executive's line on Iraq?

Then there's the old smokescreen of tuition fees, slapped on by TweedleLab, shucked off by TweedleLib, as student debt rockets. Gays are now legal for guidance staff to mention, just as these cease to exist.

And the pay of a Scottish classroom teacher, thanks to McCrone, is near two-thirds of his or her Swiss counterpart. Or "Not quite the full Toblerone", as they say high in the Jura.

It is a proud record. I mean that of the Swiss on education. Our own record seems to have got a bit stuck at the tail of the year. That rerun press snap of Jack McConnell raising a festive spoon of Krispies at a breakfast club in darkest wherever. Compared to Marilyn Monroe standing over a hot air street vent, it seemed to lack something. Not, of course, the hot air.

We must have a change of culture, according to Jack. A voluntary purge on junk food - though keep the canteen sponsored. Chips with everything? Only twice a week. Sky Television in the dining halls to seduce the wee buggers. Sorry, rephrase all that. Eat your pie under the Sky, sonny.

The Krispies Tsar has spoken. Of vegetables even. Of a wasted youth. Sometimes I don't write sentences good no more. It's all these soundbites. In case you missed it, what Jack wants is a Chappit-Neep Czar to lead us through the dead days of winter. A Kail Khan. A Sprout Sheikh. And as First Tattie, to be crowned at Scone.

Anything rather than vote for Tommy's school meals Bill. Let's bleat on about Scotland's pound;8 billion NHS spending. Let's talk mince instead about Japanese exercise classes.

In my day, young Jack, we had a two-course breakfast, school milk at 11am, then cycled home for a three-course dinner, and still had time for half an hour's football before the afternoon bell. Hyperactivity in the classroom? Attention deficit disorder? We simulated attention as we rested up for the big game after school.

These days won't come again. We're Euro chumps at football and health, and we hardly eat the fine fresh fish the Buchaners won't be catching.

So free school meals for all must be the call - nutritious meals, not grease and e-numbers. At 1 per cent of the Executive's budget: political, and correct.

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