Sigh dear, with Rosie;Opinion

22nd October 1999 at 01:00
HALF-TERM is upon us, which means that next week I'm getting involved in the quaint old English ritual of child-sharing my offspring around town.

Playgroups do not open at half- term round here, which makes life none too easy for those of us who work from home.

My friend Wild Rosemary is not so happy either. By rights she ought to be. Love, a hardy perennial in the Rose garden, has flowered again this autumn.

Poor Rose had begun to despair, convinced the blight of teaching would mean she'd never find a man who understood her regular Sunday night depression, her paranoid insistence on avoiding the town centre on Saturday mornings and her inability to suddenly take a week's leave in September, but then came Adam Wonderful, a fellow teacher, and everything seemed rosy for Rosie.

Until Rose discovered a thorn bush in Paradise. Mr Wonderful teaches religion for our neighbouring education authority and next Monday, when Rose had hoped to be getting away for a five-day inspection of hotel bedrooms, Adam will be back in school, grappling with Original Sin.

I have to say I share something of Rose's frustration and I sometimes despair of my country. So we have no bill of rights and very little freedom of information in Britain but who cares? So we are governed by an unelected family and an unelected second chamber, but what does that matter?

No one in Britain tells our local education authorities when they should take their holidays. No wonder British democracy is the envy of the world! Some countries have wasted their energies creating a written constitution so everyone knows the limit of governmental power.

Other states have made it a rule that you don't have to wait 50 years to find out what that government is doing in your name but we in Britain scoff at such libertarian gestures. Here, 90 per cent of our schools will be taking next week off, but parts of Leicestershire and Staffordshire will have already gone back. Who says local autonomy is dead when our education authorities regularly assert the birthright of all Britons to be unnecessarily different and thereby make it uneconomical to open half-term playgroups?

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