It was not what David Hawker had hoped for in his Christmas stocking. The Brighton and Hove director of education was flabbergasted when he opened the Brighton Evening Argus over the festive break to find a banner headline branding him "Mr Spock", the emotionless and relentlessly logical Star Trek hero.
The caricature came in a leaked letter to a local councillor from Richard Sutton-Smith, a respected head who had just resigned from Goldstone primary in the city. "It is symptomatic of his Vulcan tendencies that I have received no good wishes for next year, or thanks for the past 10," wrote Sutton-Smith, who quit after a dispute over the council's failure to give his split-site school a single home.
Sutton-Smith, now head at Claremont primary in Tunbridge Wells, is refusing to elaborate on his comments, which he says were made in a private letter, but says that the Spock comparison was his own invention and that he had never heard it being used before.
This is intriguing because it seems others have independently come to the same conclusion. Way back in 1996, Vulcan tendencies were being whispered of at the Schools Curriculum and Assessment Authority, where Hawker was assistant chief executive.
A colleague from the QCA, SCAA's successor, says: "Yes, we did (call him Spock). He has one of those cold and apparently logical but from-a-different-planet sort of manners of working." But Pat Hawkes, chair of children, families and schools at Brighton and Hove Council said the attacks were unfair: "He can look fairly intense but there is a warm, caring professional underneath."