POP OUT. So quiet here. All thinking activities suspended until further notice. Ironically, Departmental Head of Intelligence Stephen, whose inquiry triggered the lockdown, has gone on leave for a fortnight. Owen, Sandra and I are taking quite long pub lunch breaks these days. Weirdly, this lack of pressure is quite liberating and we keep coming up with great ideas even though we're not obliged to. For instance, Ballsy's desperate to suck up to parents at the moment and is panicking. Owen says he's like one of those flailing restaurant owners being sworn at by Gordon Ramsay. "The Gove's promising new management but all Ballsy can do is change the menu a bit ..." This gives Sandra an idea. "Hey, if he wants schools to provide a better service he should make them do parents' evenings like a pop-up restaurant. Everyone sitting at little tables browsing their kid's report, teachers whizzing round with snacks and drinks ..." I get another round in.
LOL. We're all slack-jawed watching Countdown when I get a text from Exam Board Liaison: "Know ur off but need ideas re develop phonics skills? J" After conferring, I suggest including a section on text messaging in GCSE English.
TRAIN BRAINING. Prompted no doubt by recent tabloid hysteria, accounts are suddenly taking an interest in our expenses. We have explained that first-class rail travel is essential as it is less busy and noisy than standard class. Accounts adopt a tone of weary bafflement, asking impertinent questions like what work were you actually doing on the train and why were you going to Huddersfield anyway? OK, firstly I didn't say I was doing "work". I was "brain training". Not just on the Nintendo DS but also via Sudoku and crosswords. And deep problem-solving with my eyes shut. Or are members of think tanks not SUPPOSED to keep their minds agile? And, I add rather acidly, all three of us had to be in Huddersfield because that's where the academic who's written a very interesting paper - Communicating Ideas In The Electronic Age - LIVES. Idiots.
NEXT ROUND. One of the games we're playing to pass the time is Guess The Meaning. One of us reads out a Departmental statement and the others have to work out what it might conceivably mean. I've found a cracker, a spokesperson commenting on new guidelines: "This is not telling schools to reinvent the wheel - they should already be doing this." After some thought, we agree it must have something to do with engineering classes, or philosophy.
BRAINWAVE. You know, I say, we're thinking so clearly here in the pub. We should set up a freelance think tank. Sandra looks very thoughtful, but it turns out she's nodded off. Inchworm.