The "P word", as Shelagh Rae, the directors of education president, labelled it, surfaced with all the vengeance of a deadly virus at the ADES conference in Dunblane (page five). Ministerial speechwriters seemed particularly smitten, or perhaps they were trying to exorcise the bogey as Brian Wilson's address opened with a mass outbreak of "partnerships".
The minister began nervously, casting a cautious eye over at Jotter's tallier. "Perhaps I should use something non-controversial like concordat," he suggested.
Never one to shirk responsibilities, Wilson told directors they featured "high on the list of our partners" and that there were indeed many forms of partnership. "Marriage partners are different from the members of a legal partnership who are different from the partners in a foursome on the golf course. We should recognise this in considering the many partnerships . . ."
And so the virus spread rapidly through the text, accompanied by the smaller P word, partners.
Wilson comfortably surpassed his previous record of 17 references. The new tally is 22, with another 10 of the smaller variety.