I spy a nation run by teachers

6th October 2000 at 01:00
THE NEWS that MI5 was hiring teachers to vet its recruits was immensely cheering. It showed that the often villified profession had the qualities the nation needs. There have been some rum characters in the security forces of late, so who better than seasoned schoolies to flush them out?

Teachers' expertise will benefit national security, but there is no limit to other jobs they might do. Biology teachers could shorten NHS waiting lists, by chipping in to treat the odd ingrown toenail, or to perform an occasional life-saving transplant.

Nursery and infant teachers could take over the whole waste-recycling industry. Moonlighting as lorry drivers (extra income for those whose threshold applications do not succeed) they cart loads of useless junk into school. Children then glue a few rice crispies on to each item, paint it purple, and label it "Starship Enterprise".

Doting parents have no option but to display it on their mantelpiece for three weeks, before sneaking out furtively at midnight to dump it back on the tip. Next morning the lorry-driving teachers arrive and take it all into school again.

Bingo! Extra pay for teachers and the nation's intractable waste problems are solved.

But what will the teachers recruited by MI5 actually do in their tricky task of vetting potential spies?

I can just picture the scene.

"Quiet everybody so I can take the register. Gary Adams?"

"Defected, sir."

"Defected, what do you mean?"

"Gone to the Albanians, sir."

"The Albanians? But he didn't get a note first. If I've told you once I've told you a thousand times: nobody is allowed to defect unless they've got a signed chit from me in advance, is that clear?"

"Sir, Darren Rowbottom's just put ink all over my homework."

"Stop that, Darren."

"I can't help it, sir, my pen exploded."

"Sally Baker? Where's Sally Baker?"

"She'll be late sir."

"Late, why?"

"She said to tell you she's failed her A-level seduction module, so she's got to do an extra lamour and allure class with Miss Dietrich in the Mata Hari wing."

"Well nobody told me. How am I supposed to run a vetting session when nobody tells me anything?"

"Sir, Darren Rowbottom's nicked my Minox camera."

"Darren, give Sophie her Minox back."

"That's not fair, she nicked my poisoned umbrella tip first!"

"Give it her back now, or you're staying in at break, and Sophie, give Darren his umbrella tip back."

"I can't sir."

"Why not?"

"I gave it to Tom and he's pricked his finger on it, that's why he's foaming at the mouth."

"Oh for goodness' sake, Tom, it's only a little prick. Stop making such a fuss. Just lick it until break and then I'll get you a sticking plaster.

"Right, I want to get on with this vetting, so stop talking.

"Now, everybody empty out your pockets. Darren Rowbottom, what is all this?"

"Half-a-million roubles, sir."

"Half-a-million roubles? Where on earth did you get that from?"

"Found it, sir."

"You found it. Do you seriously expect me to believe that?"

"Sir, he's lying. He got it off a big bloke in a black raincoat."

"Is that true, Darren? Look at me when I'm talking to you. I said, is that true? If you own up you won't get into trouble, I promise you."

"It's my winnings, sir, I had a bet come up at the betting shop and it's my winnings."

"Your winnings? What, in roubles?"

"It's a Russian betting shop, sir. Honest, cross my heart."

"Right, that's it. I'm asking the head to exclude you permanently from MI5, so let that be a lesson to everybody. Now Darren, is there anything you want to say before you leave?"

"Just let me remove my disguise first.

"That's better. I can now reveal that I'm really Higgins, your threshold assessor, and I'm pleased to tell you that I will be confirming your pound;2,000 salary bonus."

Security vetting? It's a mere pushover.

Adverts for teachers to act as cardiac surgeons, archbishops, and jet pilots should be submitted immediately.

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