HARPIE: There's this pamphlet the Department published a couple of years ago aimed primarily at the sort of teenagers we're supposed to call "challenging". I think this is Ballspeak for "deeply unpleasant". The pamphlet, as is customary, featured an assortment of casually dressed young people looking cross in a hip-hop landscape with the title What Will You Do After Education Bruvs Yeah? Leaving aside the "Bruvs Yeah?" bit that's exactly the question I am now asking myself. Next week the Department shuts down what's left of the Futures Delivery Taskforce, ie, me. I'll be exiled to the frozen tundra of freelance consultancy. The only work in prospect is some vague offer from Scary Paula, head of Shadow Intelligence at Gove HQ. Which frankly is like getting a lifeline delivered by harpoon.
SOFTWOOD: Still, I have to go for it. Hers is the only offer I've had. I leave a note on my desk explaining that I'm spending the afternoon "tying up some loose ends". Pointless really as there's nobody to read it. Sandra's out shopping for balloons and cake for her own leaving party. She's off to a salaried job in Scary Paula's think tank. At least now I understand why literally the stupidest person I've ever met has been headhunted by the Tories. After a fourth lunchtime Baileys the other day Sandra confided that Team Gove valued her potential input as "an Everywoman with a poor grasp of current affairs". In other words, she's there as a sounding board to test the resonance of Conservative education policies in the dimmest quadrant of the population. I have to admit she's a great sounding board. Thick as a plank.
CON-FUSION: With Scary Paula at the interview is a horrible bloke called Andy From Manchestuh who's in charge of Special Projects. "Have yuh evuh ..." he says via his sinuses "done Black Ops?" What a bizarre question. Absolutely not, I reply. I abhor that awful racist minstrel ... Scary Paula cuts in to say yes, we've both had experience of spreading political disinformation. Rather recklessly in my view, she tells him about how we sold Labour education ideas to the Tories and then sold both sides false ideas that actually turned out to be more valuable than the real ones. He's confused, and impressed.
UNDERCOVERED: I get back to find Sandra's leaving party in full swing. There are a lot of familiar faces, and they all belong to people with jobs. Bastards. I'm the only one here with a secret assignment though. So secret I'm not entirely sure what it is.
IRONYING: A pissed, tearful goodbye to Sandra the Sounding Board. We'll meet again, I tell her, hoping I'm not sounding TOO bored. Inchworm.