Teachers driven to distraction

4th December 2009 at 00:00

Do you drive a car? You do? What kind? A Lada (a Fiat in disguise), a second-hand Rover, a Toyota maybe? Or is that the car in front of you?

What car you drive is a key consideration in your advancement. You have been warned, by none other than the former Education Secretary, as reported in these columns last week, that aspiring to have a BMW marks you out as a well-to-do troublemaker and your card will be marked accordingly.

Poor Fiona, the pressure was obviously getting to her. The wheels were coming off her own wagon so she took a pop at the number of BMW's in the car park owned, she surmised, by the headteachers she was addressing. Oh dear, did she not see the Dunedin Motors' sales conference in the function room next door?

Is it such a problem to have a car that works, a car with build quality that you expect to keep going - and going (my partner has a 19-year-old BMW soft top). What are heidies meant to buy? A Morris Traveller?

Is a BMW Mini OK - or does it have to be pre-German? (they're actually made at Cowley). I think we should be told. Maybe someone could put a question down in the Scottish Parliament?

Anyway, what business was it of hers? These BMWs are bought with hard- earned personal dosh after meeting dear Fiona's own targets for pupils eating fruit and attending lessons on chlamydia.

I'll cough up. I drive a Jaguar. It's my second actually: the first died on me in the middle of nowhere in the Highlands after the engine seized.

Why two Jags? Because I love driving them but, more importantly, I buy them secondhand. My second is still going and looks resplendent in its respray of Hibees metallic green. You wouldn't think it cost pound;11,000 five years ago when it was already seven years old.

My point is - and you would think a right-on, left-leaning, politically correct former Education Secretary would know this - you cannot judge a book by its cover. I look the business as I roll up at some exclusive hotel or country club; eyes turn when I drive into the Hibs car park (is that a director?) or into the golf club (is that an overpaid footballer?).

I'm none of these things, of course. As soon as I step out, onlookers can see I'm an Ordinary Joe. My car does not define my liquidity, my wealth or my indebtedness - only a fool would think that.

My Uncle Rab, a retired principal art teacher from an Edinburgh secondary, has four Jags sitting in his garden. What does that make him? A director of children's services? A teachers' union leader? A wedding chauffeur? Again, only a fool would judge him by his four Jags.

I recall when I was still a pupil, hardly any teachers had cars. We could play football in the playgrounds. These days, such exercise would contribute to our Scottish Government's target of 30 minutes' daily activity. Now the same playgrounds are full of teachers' and pupils' cars - no wonder we can't qualify for the World Cup.

Nobody in my family drove, I took the bus or traipsed the mile-and-a-half, come hail, sleet or shine. One day, my geography teacher, Mrs Bain, saw me standing like a drowned rat at the bus stop, pulled over and gave me a run to school in her lovely Ford Capri. I was in love! With the Capri that is: I always had a soft spot for Capris.

I don't know what car Fiona drives, why should I? She rides in a limousine driven by a ministerial chauffeur. Of course, maybe you don't drive a car. In which case, apply for a job at the Scottish Government. It's where you belong. With Fiona's support, you could go far (albeit rather slowly).

Brian Monteith first drove a Vauxhall Magnum but was never a PI.

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