Inchworm

16th April 2010 at 01:00
The policy wonk whose heart isn't in it

MONDAY - Looking forward to some serious networking at the PHARMEDUCATION 2010 conference this week. A General Election could bring significant changes in the way our education system is medicated, and I need to position myself. Of course, there's always been a steady demand among teachers for anti-depressants, remedies for gastric disorders, treatments for erectile dysfunction and so on. But all the major drug companies will be there looking for NEW opportunities. I will be pretending to be a senior Tory adviser who is open to offers from lobbyists, and I will be wearing my most impressive false moustache.

TUESDAY - At PHARMEDUCATION 2010, and feeling enormously virile behind my novelty moustache. I breeze past the stands offering free samples of Cialis and nicotine substitutes to take my seat for the keynote address. It's given by someone who looks like the sort of doctor who appears in adverts explaining heartburn. She's even got those big black glasses and a white coat, and is reading her notes from a clipboard. The hall applauds as she defends neuro-enhancing drugs, explaining that the real problem is not students copying from the internet, but students imitating their laptops. "After 10 minutes of inactivity they begin to hibernate, occasionally suffering an internal memory error and loss of data ..."

WEDNESDAY - Day 2 of the conference is given over to debates with a common theme: how can we secure the best future for our children in terms of pharmaceutical development? Obviously neuro-enhancers could be a key factor in halting the so-called "dumbing down" of exams, conference concludes. We could then make the questions a bit harder but allow pupils to improve their performance chemically. I'm really getting into my role as Tory policymaker, although to be honest, the moustache is beginning to itch.

THURSDAY - Conference Plenary Session. Basically, I tell everyone our plan is to return to Post-War Britain principles of discipline and welfare. But instead of free milk, primary pupils will get energy drinks and instead of cod liver oil after lunch, secondary pupils will be given mood-altering "intelligent drugs". Attentive, decent, hard-working ones will get stimulants while the unruly, lazy and disruptive will be given a powerful narcotic. Our slogan should be: A Spoonful Of Medicine Helps The Averages Go Up.

FRIDAY - Ha ha. My inbox is full of lunch invitations from attractive drug reps. "I thought your ideas were wonderful," says one. "So much better to put our medicines, rather than our pupils, in suspension!" My mobile rings. Caller ID says it's The Gove. I quickly put on my moustache, answer in the style of a 1970s history lecturer and tell him he's got the wrong number.

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