Inchworm

28th January 2011 at 00:00

Monday: Everyone still glowing from the prime minister's visit. He and The Gove did the rounds like a royal couple. Smiling, pretending to be interested. "So you collect all the data here, and ... and collate it? That's brilliant. Fantastic to meet you. Oh, hi. Are you part of the marvellous data collation team too? You're doing great work here with the ... computers and the phones ... ". At the debrief, Scary Paula tells us Mr Cameron regards us as a Pathfinder Department. He's specifically pleased with the rate at which we are contracting. We're not sure whether this means shrinking contracting, or parcelling up lucrative work for the PFI piranhas contracting. It's the same thing, obviously.

Tuesday: Don't worry, says Sandra. We're irreplaceable. Ours is a niche skill, devising outline policy. It's not like the place is crawling with people thinking outside the box. She's an idiot, on both counts. She nicks all her "brainwaves" from Twitter. And the Department is now STUFFED with itinerant gurus and blue sky windbags. They're either mates with someone in the Cabinet, or they've been on the telly. What they have in common is that they're all horrible. We call it the Toby Factor.

Wednesday: Talk of the devil. And he's wearing Prada. Toby Young - everyone's favourite genial cock - is in reception, and demonstrating his commitment to ordinary parents' aspirations by wearing a stylish reversible black and brown Teflon winter jacket, and listening to Mahler through little headphones. He's arrived for a "one on one" with The Gove. Unfortunately, he's been bumped for Gove's latest pathfinder guru: Owen Kenobe, grandmaster of something called jazz psychometrics. Toby stays calm as he's given the bad news, nonchalantly checks his BlackBerry and heads outside to rejoin the Big Society.

Thursday: Owen Kenobe is introduced to everyone at a special briefing session. He looks like The Hood out of Thunderbirds and sounds like someone with be-bop Tourette's. He's this week's golden boy, The Gove having decided that jazz psychometrics plays better in the media than turfing local voluntary groups out of a big house in Hammersmith in order to set up a posh school for Toby Young's kids - Halma, Thor, Genevieve and Bunny - and their friends.

Friday: Kenobe says he wants to develop the idea of "jazz lollipops". Instead of inviting pupils to put their hands up to answer a question in class, the teacher chooses a lollipop at random. The corresponding child then answers in jazz (here he looks at Sandra and me). "For example, what does the future for in-house policy advisers look like? Answer: pish pish bibbly wibbly bap ga-dap wabbeda wabbeda BLEAK!" He walks off, laughing. Oh God, suddenly Toby Young seems almost human.

As intercepted by Ian Martin.

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