Jotter - One minute you're up ..

10th July 2009 at 01:00

Sir Tom Farmer was in sparkling form last week at the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, which he chairs. The previous day, he had been presented with another award as a member of the Royal Victorian Order, had spent some time with HRH himself and - as he con-fessed - was pretty pleased with life.

Then, that very morning, he arrived for a seminar and lunch at Edinburgh's swanky Macdonald Holyrood Hotel, when he ran into officialdom. "I'm going to the Duke of Edinburgh's Award," he told his inquisitor. "And who are you?" he was asked.

As on the occasion when he gave his autograph to a couple of star-struck lads only to be told that they thought he was Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Tom concluded that "it's a very salutary experience to be brought back down to Earth".

Inside story

South Africa's Justice Albie Sachs gave a lecture in the National Gallery of Scotland recently on the theme of prisoners' children, and the importance of not banging up parents when there were kids in the house to be looked after.

Somebody was clearly in inspirational, if not ironic, mood when they decided to bill the occasion as a "closed door event". The media was told that "once you are in, you must stay for the entire lecture".

Perhaps it was intended to give us a taster of life "inside".

On target

It was his moment of epiphany. Our very own home-grown guru, Keir Bloomer, told recently of the time when he began to get a bit suspicious of the whole performance and accountability industry.

Clackmannanshire Council's former education director and chief executive recalled a conference in York some 20 years ago, on the then novel concept of quality assurance. The main speaker, from the NHS, was explaining the wonders of performance indicators and targets. Health service bosses were trying to reduce patients' time in hospital, since "the NHS isn't there to run a chain of hotels".

Fair enough, delegates thought, until one asked whether a distinction was drawn between those who left hospital horizontally or vertically.

"When he said `no', a certain note of scepticism crept in," Bloomer said.

S*** happens

The inveterate pun-maker from old Ecclesmachan has been at it again. Colin Adams, who handles the media for Oatridge College in West Lothian, has drawn our attention to the tricky situation which arose when the equine department's horses were let loose on prime grazing land at the college, to the chagrin of the agriculture department. Action was duly taken to get rid of the "weapons of grass destruction".

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