Jotter - Warning for teachers' pets

31st July 2009 at 01:00

It's not just teachers, pupils and parents who have to decide what to do with themselves during the school holidays. Spare a thought for school pets. It turns out that, according to a survey by veterinary charity PDSA, pets such as gerbils and guinea pigs are often left with teachers and parents - who may be inexperienced pet owners. PDSA senior veterinary surgeon Elaine Pendlebury said: "Pets that are kept in a school for nine months of the year and then suddenly placed in a new environment can be affected by this change." Teachers and pupils will surely know what she means. They might find commonality in the PDSA checklist for keeping the animals healthy and happy - including their need for "a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs"; letting them "behave normally"; and ensuring their "social needs" are met. Honestly, they were talking about the pets.

A song's a song for a' that

Pop diva Mariah Carey needs a special attendant in her dressing room at public engagements, just to hand her towels, it seems, and Jennifer Lopez insists on having the scent of gardenia wafting in her path. But South African apartheid campaigner Albie Sachs has his own endearing demands, as children's commissioner Tam Baillie discovered, when he visited Edinburgh last month. Ideally, Justice Sachs likes to start meetings off with a song, and get the audience to join in four-part harmony; guitars and flutes would play and beautifully-painted banners with "lots of colours and no slogans" would appear, then a jam tin with a little plant in it would be placed on the table. In the event, renowned Scottish hospitality extended to a "jeely jar" with a flower in it and Mr Baillie reading the Burns song "A Man's A Man For A' That". When Mr Sachs took to the stage he reciprocated, singing a song that helped keep him occupied in solitary confinement. Better than the divas any day.

Putting a varnish on it

Those prone to declaring "the world's gone mad" were given grist for their doomsayer mill by Edinburgh City Council recently, when it banned parents at South Morningside Primary from painting the tired school because "health and safety practice dictates we use tradesmen". Cash-strapped councils should be more careful. Parents wielding paintbrushes may come in handy.

Transferred epithet

Are civil servants trying too hard to convince us of their honesty, integrity and all-round good-eggedness? The Government's Charles McTrusty was a delegate at last week's leadership summer school in Edinburgh. On the event website, though, he had morphed into hip-sounding "Charles Mc" of the "Trusty Scottish Government".

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