AS a parent I like to think I am supportive of our local school. I even make a point of reading every letter which arrives here, invariably creased and dubiously stained, at the bottom of Tom's Action Man tote bag.
Requests for jumble, notification of the school hamster's unfortunate demise or the headteacher's annual sabbatical in Portugal I must admit to speed-reading. What I'm looking for is Dough amp; Woe: permission slips which mean my offspring are going to get on a coach and cost me money or, far worse, notification of INSET days which mean they'll be marooned here at home.
Recently, however, I found something quite unexpected at the bottom of Tom's rapidly disintegrating school bag: Gus Modem, head of ITC at St Jude's, was announcing the suspension of the school's floppy disc policy. No more may pupils bring their homework in on floppy. It seems that Mr Modem's Anti Virus Shield has proved incapable of dealing with the rash of contamination emanating from PCs in our catchment area.
At first I was shocked. At the best of times these Internet viruses are proof of humanity's capacity or malice but to have them rampant at one's son's school is like packing him off daily to a cesspit of artificially manufactured headlice. Then outrage set in as I discerned the suggestion, implicit in Mr Modem's petulant missive, that it was us parents who were to blame.
Clearly we had all been having unprotected Internet access to each other and passed the resultant diseases on to our children.
"Did Mr Modem say what the virus was?" I asked Tom. I was remembering the time I caught a kak worm virus earlier this year and had to advise all my "partners" of the contamination. It was exactly like having to confess venereal disease. I felt leprous and was sure that my in-laws would be tut-tutting: "Well, what else can you expect?" Gus Modem had gone into specifics. Yes, indeed it was kak that had so distressed the school's computers. "Wasn't that the one we had?" asked Sarah over my shoulder. "No, it wasn't," I lied.
Imagine the stigma if Tom goes in and confesses to his class that he comes from a home rampant with kak worm. As a parent I like to think I am supportive of my son, too.