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Too late for some of us to develop

I'm in the media resources emporium at the photocopier. We must furnish management with next term's lesson plans. Until 2006. Or death. I concoct the required gibberish.

"Week 89. Module 47. Unit 17. Thursday - if wet. List noun clusters in "Stig of the Dump".

The divine Ms Kristeva joins me. A favourite chum. We go back a long way - about 50 white papers and a million shrinking initiatives. She is serene and burnished and a quite superb teacher. She is an endangered species.

We rave about Dylan. We were there. Albert Hall, May 26, 1966. I punch in my PIN number and press something or other.

The modern Mr Twerp joins us. A perky consultant summoned to take the bloom off our teaching. A rather flourishing species. He is going on 14. He has the Armani and clipboard and oleaginous smile.

"Can I have a few words?"

This usually means incarceration in the Cactus Cell and much bleating about targets and getting me by the modules. But he is addressing my chum. He observes that it has been observed that she was not observed at a Professional Development Twilight Session. She was at Ronnie Scott's jazz club drinking bourbon.

"Mr Twerp," she sighs, "I am 64 years old. How much more development can I possibly need?"

"But things change."

She has seen change. She has seen war zones and revolutions and walls fall.

She was in Paris in 1968 and waved flags in the Prague Spring. She is Old Europe. He is New Labour. "I'll be requiring your lesson plans."

She does not need lesson plans. Her classes are spontaneous, full of good cheer and much learning. She can mesmerise hooligans and send Cordelia to Oxbridge. Desperate girls seek her wisdom. Dave Mania never bunks her class. She runs the jazz club. And poetry evenings.

"I'll be managing your performance." This is like me managing Thierry Henry. Like Dan Brown giving a few tips to Philip Roth.

Mr Twerp clicks off down a corridor. The machine shudders to a halt.

Whoops, there are blizzards of gibberish all over the floor. I have pressed my PIN number in the wrong place. I have got 7,377 lesson plans. The same one.

"Don't worry," I tell chum. "Have my lesson plans. I've got enough for the department."

"It's 'Stig of the Dump' until we die," she laughs. "And we'll all be singing from the same sheet."

Just perfect for our development.

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