Whoa. VERY interesting drink after work with Scary Paula. Before the summer holidays she was my assessor. Now she seems to be some sort of. friend. It's all a bit creepy and suspicious. My think tank policy paper on Heathen Education has "gained traction". Hold on a minute. Gained traction with whom? I find myself asking, like one of those Victorian educators Mr Gove's always going on about. I know for a fact that everyone on the please-initial-and-pass-on list is on holiday. In sickening contrast to my own situation. I am NOT on holiday. I am the entire Department's skeleton thinking staff for August. There's nobody here to READ my paper.
"Shall I get us another?" Paula says, through a Maybelline rictus, and disappears to the bar. When she comes back she has that look people have when they've just finished talking to someone on the phone. And then when she says "You're right, of course.." I know she's definitely about to take the piss. She puts down her Virgin Mojito and stares hard into space. "There IS nobody about. I thought, you know. It's a shame for educational ideas - however uncosted and sketchy - to just sit there, isn't it? Perhaps if we took it to a wider audience. People with an open mind on any policy, particularly uncosted and sketchy ones". No! She took it to Team Gove! But. Shall I get us another?
I'm in a moral maze, set in a moral minefield, wearing a moral blindfold. Obviously I can't condone what Paula did. I mean, there's got to be something in her contract that forbids passing information on, although she insists she "only" gave it to Brighton Al, a political fixer. Yeah, we all know Al has many acquaintances in the world of high politics, but it's his association with certain Shadow figures that's most lucrative at the moment. It is surely unethical for the Conservatives to be studying my paper, after all they haven't paid me anything yet.
There's a plus side, Paula points out. The Gove Babes, a coterie of (mostly female) Tory thinkers who all look like Suzy Dent off Countdown, LOVE it. They think "spectrum tuning" the concept of faith schools to include atheists, gnostics, agnostics, pragnostics, World of Warcraft adherents, psychics, Dr Who fans and don't-know fanatics is BRILLIANT. Apparently religious rather than academic streaming is something that now resonates with the more articulate, bossy, sectarian sort of voting parent.
After some deep thinking, I decide I have to take a moral stand. I tell Scary Paula to tell Brighton Al I'll do some freelance thinking for the Gove Babes at a fixed holiday rate, and have another cocktail.