Jilly Cooper's guide to inspections

18th June 2004 at 01:00
Jilly Cooper, the Diary's favourite novelist, was her usual frolicsome self at The TES's annual summer party last week even though she is behind schedule on her new school-based bonkbuster.

She is trying her best to meet the December deadline imposed by her publishers despite the major distraction of the wedding of her daughter, Emily.

The reception three weeks ago, in a marquee on the Cooper residence's lawn, caused the kind of disruption anyone who has had anything to do with organising a wedding will understand. "One just doesn't realise what an awful lot of work there is to do," said Cooper.

Among engagements now looming in Jilly's diary is a speech at the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference get- together in October. "I got a lovely letter from the chairman Martin Stephen saying all they wanted was for me to read extracts from the novel. The problem is there may be nothing to read! I'm just in a muddle," she said.

Rest assured, though, the eagerly-awaited saga is taking shape. Jilly's Puckish pen is currently dwelling on an Ofsted inspection at the state school in the story. Things don't exactly go to plan with schoolboy love-interest Feral Jackson offering an inspector a fag at one point.

Fortunately, the headmistress is fantastically good looking and the inspectors are reduced to panting praise for her and unforgiving criticism of the local authority. Governors of failing schools, take note.

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