Only three more Christmas celebrations before the millennium so there is times to have a rousing 20th century festivity before the next hi-tech era arrives. For anyone who has run out of ideas for traditional gifts and events here are a few suggestions from our 1997 fin-de-si cle catalogue SUPER GIFTS FOR HIM
Incompetent teacher badge.Big gold badge with "15,000 Club" prominently picked out in red. He may wonder what it all means, but you will know it refers to the estimate that there are 15,000 incompetent teachers. Leave it in the pigeon hole of any smartass who fancies himself. Guaranteed gales of laughter in the most jaded staffroom.
(OFSTED Executive Toys, Pounds 36.99).
The Woodenheads. A wonderful collection of beautifully carved painted wooden heads to help keep his room tidy. The "Lay Inspector" model is hollow, so he can keep all his bits and bobs in it. The "Doesn't Give a Monkey's" has a projecting felt tongue, handy for pins and needles. The ever popular "Big Woody" has two raised fingers, useful for keeping spare key rings. Its eyes light up and it burps when you press it.
(OFSTED Executive Toys, Pounds 12.99 each, "Big Woody" with velcro hair Pounds 19.99).
Acronym kit. Crochet a personalised hat for a quango, exam board, fake qualification, or trendy new teaching method. Supplied complete with material, iron-on alphabet, and list of silly suggestions. Even beginners can soon learn to crochet a hat for a friend, with acronyms to show imaginary affiliations, such as World Association of National Kwality Assessors (WANKA), or Bachelor of Underwater Metalwork (BUM). Hours of harmless fun.
(Bureaucratic Bull plc, Pounds 14.99).
Multi-purpose abacus. Versatile present with a hundred coloured balls on rails. Endless possibilities. She can use it to log in her pupils as class sizes reach record levels, or for teaching maths. As an added bonus it offers lots of conversation pieces at parties, ranging from "I'm a traditionalist, " to "My job involves a lot of balls."
(Good Ole Days Gems, Pounds 24.99).
For the kids De luxe target set. Complete with bullseyes, bows and arrows with rubber suckers. When asked if your class has met Government targets, you will be able to say, "They always hit their targets," and no one will be any the wiser. If you turn up at staff meetings with an arrow stuck to your forehead, you can always pass it off as your own eccentricity, rather than poor discipline.
(Millennium Enterprises Inc, Pounds 19.99).
COMPUTER SOFTWARE AND GAMES
Hitlist. A wonderful new suite of software for headteachers. Each member of staff is put on the database, complete with penalty factor scores on 20 different criteria. These include "unco-operative staff governor" (10 penalty points), "goes off sick when carpet being delivered at home" (15 points), "union rep" (20 points), "awkward bugger" (30 points). The program automatically computes an overall "Dismissability Score" for every teacher and prints names out in descending order of redundancy. Saves hours of anguish.
(Utterbastard Software Ltd, Pounds 89.99, free bottle of strychnine included).
Paperchase. A spectacular new CD-ROM game with stunning graphics. The chase is set in the Palace of Bumf. Players start in the cellar with a few sheets of A4. The winner is the first person to tick a thousand boxes and reach the Chamber of the Braindead. Hazards en route include having to get past little gremlins, called NVQs, armed with dangerous weapons like "range statements", "performance indicators" and 'flufficued dingledongles'. Guaranteed to turn the most lively competitor into a cabbage. (Bureaucratic Bull plc, Pounds 29.99) CHRISTMAS LOTTERY WINNERS
The special Christmas awards to schools from the Lottery Fund have now been announced. The following schools have been given grants. Lord Farnes-Barnes Academy for the Well-to-do: A grant for sports fields, 10,000-seat stadium, Astroturf all-weather pitch, squash courts, gymnasium and Olympic swimming pool, Pounds 350,000,000. Gasworks Comprehensive Contribution to bus fares for pupils unable to hitch-hike to the Lord Farnes-Barnes Academy stadium (provided the Academy agrees to let snotty-nosed little erks in), Pounds 37.50.
Poshville Preparatory School Staff Association: Suite of Jacuzzis, teachers' bar and social club, helicopter, landing pad, fleet of staff limousines, Pounds 310,000,000.
Swineshire County Primary School Staff Association: Dartboard, set of coffee mugs (seconds), pack of cards, new jockstrap for PE teacher, jar of Prozac, Pounds 16.99.
FOUR NEW CAROLS TO SING AT THIS YEAR'S CHRISTMAS SHOW
All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful, League table kill them all.
The holly and the ivy, When they are both full grown, Will be chopped down when the school becomes A light industrial zone.
Hark the Herald Angels sing, That the post bad news will bring.
Now the head retirement seeks, Ofsted's coming in three weeks.
See amid the Winter's snow, Water leaks on those below.
Soon the governors get involved, Sack a teacher, problem solved.