Inchworm

23rd July 2010 at 01:00
The policy wonk whose heart isn't in it

MONDAY: I've been summoned to a meeting at the Department to discuss the challenges of pre-school education. Specifically, the influence of TV on the very young. According to The Gove's social monitoring team, babies and toddlers are subjected to disturbing levels of cultural indoctrination. Everyone's agreed this has to change. From now on the indoctrination must reflect more accurately the aspirations of the Coalition.

TUESDAY: Lunch with "Little Miss Bethy", the BBC's fearsome teenage Head of Toddler Indoctrination. She says the front line for the current ideological battleground is now In The Night Garden ... "We've already had Iain Duncan Smith in our face, saying Makka Pakka should spend less time aimlessly washing his bike and spouting gibberish. How he'd be less of a burden on the Garden if he got ON his bloody bike and looked for work. And learned to speak English." I ask how that went down. "Not brilliantly. Duncan Smith asked sneerily what Makka Pakka even meant, and I said it was toddler-speak for 'fuck off baldy'. And I told him he could talk - 'IDS' sounds like a contraceptive device. He left in a bit of a huff ... ". I like Little Miss Bethy, but I do worry about her future.

WEDNESDAY: To the BBC, where a brainstorming session has been convened at the request of The Gove. Ominously, we're meeting on the set of In The Night Garden ... The telly lot seem a bit nervous, especially as DfE think-tank dominatrix Scary Paula has scrawled BRITISH BROADCASTING COALITION in big letters across the top of a whiteboard. The Gove sweeps in, flanked by two severe-looking creative directors in fractal haircuts. They want new plausible storylines. "For a start," says The Gove, "there are 16 polite, disciplined children living in the Pontipine and Wottinger households alone. Why are these parents not setting up their own school? And the Tombliboos look suspiciously like some gibbering, irrelevant, self-serving QUANGO to me ... ". The BBC guys make soothing noises. Little Miss Bethy does her own seething noises.

THURSDAY: Bethy calls to say goodbye. She's leaving the BBC to develop her own toddler computer games empire, "Little Fists". Boo. But she's done a Gove-friendly version of In The Night Garden ... as a farewell gift to the Coalition. Hooray!

FRIDAY: Screening at the Department of In The Nice Garden ... The set-up is even more middle class. There's a Waitrose. Iggle Piggle's doing pilates. There's a new character, too: Upsy-Govesy. He cruises round "cancelling dreams" in a brightly-coloured farting bag of rhetoric called the Coalishy Squishy. The Gove is furious. Nobody makes eye contact but you can tell we're all dying to use the catchphrase "Upsy-Govesy! Ooh!" at the first available opportunity.

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