Further adventures of Phil Harrass Private HMI

25th December 1998 at 00:00
"NO way!" I said to the producer, moving my chair with the chrome-plated arms back from the cafeteria table. "There is absolutely no way I`m going to be a two-bit television quiz master. I might not be rolling in green pakora vouchers, but a guy has to have his standards."

"But it's a very nineties post-modern-ironical laddish quiz show," protested the sap in the open-necked shirt. "And as it's about Scottish education, past, present and future, a hard-bitten cynic like yourself would be the ideal host."

"OK, run it past me again," I sighed, agreeing to hear him out as much because I fancied another coffee in a plastic cup.

"It's called You're Not Here To Enjoy Yourself. There will be two teams of three, with resident captains. Keep this to yourself, but we're trying to get Elizabeth Maginnis and Douglas Osler."

"Why not a couple of teachers?" "There aren't any famous ones. Somebody suggested Morris Simpson of School Diary fame and Scruffy McGuffie from Grange Hill. Quite a lot of money was spent trying to track them down before we realised that they were fictional characters.

"Forget that. We've got some great rounds lined up. One of them is a golden oldie game where the captain has to mime a description of a once all-important but now long forgotten educational initiative."

"Let me guess. That part of the show will be called Never Mind The Bullock Report?" The producer became animated. "We hadn't thought of that, but it's not bad. Round two is provisionally titled What's my Lament? You will read out the opening line about a bad situation in the old days. The teams have to add another line pointing out how much worse they are now."

"That's entertainment? I can get that in any staffroom in the country, " I said. It didn't stop him.

"Let me run one past you," he enthused. " 'When I started as a technical teacher we had classes of 50 boys hammering away at bits of metal all at once. . .' " I came in "Of course, in those days you could give a disruptive pupil a clout with a piece of four-by-two and it was accepted - none of this running to the European Court of Human Rights."

I figured if I humoured my host it might all be over sooner. The alternative was a dive through the cafeteria's plate glass window.

"Wonderful!" The producer held out a contract. "Now why don't you sign here?" "Sorry, Bub," I said, picking up my hat. "I can't see it working. That's the problem: too many teachers for a decent pay increase, too few for a peak-time ratings-winning television audience."

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