Self-conservatism: A low grey cloud of inevitability hangs over the Department. The Gove has announced that his Age of Terror will start with pay freezes, pension clamping and "natural job evaporation". There's now a huge surge towards the exits. Everyone with half a chance is going for constructive dismissal. Good news for us, as our manager Scary Paula is spending all her time at internal inquiries being accused of mental cruelty and looking at people in a funny way. Jeremy from Rewardment and Recognitioning claims to have been hooded and made to stand for hours in a stress position, although this almost certainly refers to last year's Star Wars Christmas party.
Go girl: No worries about the future for Caz. It's her last week in the think tank. She's off to join the Dawkins Institute for the Suppression of Faith, a new educational consultancy set up to fight the powers of darkness - Nativity plays, Robbie Williams' Angels, dandelion-blowing, Easter eggs, Harry Potter, anyone saying "Oh my God" etc. She's quite cynical about it but the money's good. Caz has always been the quick- witted one. Paula once caught her, feet up, playing Final Fantasy on the PSP. Caz airily said she was "on a training course in metacognition, strategic thinking, concentration and social skills", referencing a genuine academic study. The girl is mint.
PFIducation: Lunch with Bryony Stamp, shadow tankthinker. She's putting together a list of potential sponsors for The Gove's new Higher Schools. In theory any group of busybodies or indeed business bodies will be able to set up a state-funded, independently run school. Everyone's talking about The Swedish Model, says Bry, wearily. The men ALWAYS make jokes about it, indicating air breasts or winking and jingling the loose change in their pocket. Ugh. Unlike his Swedish counterpart, The Gove can only seek sponsors, NOT profit-seeking operators. Britain won't be ready for "fully integrated PFIducation" until May 5, 2011 apparently. There are already exploratory talks with a certain supermarket, which is demanding "own-brand" pupils stacked neatly in classrooms, barcoded uniforms and human checkouts in the playground with a small release fee per child at going-home time. Even reception classes will have to wear Little Helps tabards. Faith schools are a bit nichier, though Branson has expressed interest in a chain of Catholic high schools called Holy Virgin Plus.
Quick Fix: Every week from now on the Department wants "Govetackling" recommendations. Accordingly Winston Churchill is IN, Miss Sexy trousers are OUT.
THROATLUMP: Emotional farewell to Caz down the pub. We're all sort of sure we'll stay in touch. God, my world is slowly falling apart. Caz frowns. "Don't say that". She means don't say "God". We laugh, uncomfortably. I sense trouble ahead.