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Worm, Inch - Futures Delivery Taskforce

SPREAD BETTING: Ballsy's losing his ratings war with The Gove. The next education secretary may look and sound like a swotty prefect but he seems to resonate with a public hungry for change. In contrast, Ballsy's cultured machismo - and the fact that his Body Mass Index seems to be rising by 4% a week - resonates only with that section of the public hungry for pies. Worse news for us: Team Gove's latest media blitz promises massive savings when the Tories get in. They commissioned a study from a quango that said all the think tanks should be scrapped. And one from a think tank saying all the quangos should go. The world of blue sky thinking is clouding over. A big storm is on the way.

NUMBERS MAGIC: No time to fret about that. Upstairs want three low-cost schools initiatives by lunchtime. After some focused thought we devise the following. Hold nationwide in-school auditions for pupils who think they can handle "real power" and turn them into fruit monitors, leaving no lunchbox unchecked. Twin inner-city schools with counterparts in places such as Detroit and Mogadishu, so everything seems much better. Boost pupil achievement by renumbering all school years, eg, secondary joiners would be in Year 8, a full digit ahead of the current level. Phew. Exhausted. Lunch.

SHADOW BOXING: No pudding, though. Unless you count the tart appearance of Scary Paula. Despite the fact she's already told us we're being sacked, she's now insisting we put "a positive spin" on the War Between The Think Tanks And The Quangos. "It means all the other think tanks are on our side. Against the quangos". Our ... secret line of communication with the Shadow Team, I say, looking directly at her. Couldn't we find out what's actually going on from THEM? Everyone agrees this is a great idea, except Paula.

QUANGO SMOOTHIE: "Hello, is it OK to talk at the moment?" The voice is redolent of gymkhanas and big hats. "It's Bryony Stamp. Shadow Futures Delivery Taskforce?" Oh hel-LO. She's ringing on a "secure line" from the Govebunker. She has some inside track. Under the latest plan about two-thirds of blue sky activities will be liquidated. The remaining think tanks and quangos will be merged to form a new tier of "think quanks". Could we meet for an informal chat?

OTHER TEAM: "Thanks so much for agreeing to this meeting ... ". We're in an obscure bar and Bryony's looking even lovelier than I remembered, a natural beauty. Yum. "I hope you don't mind, my partner will be joining us." Oh. Is he in education? "She." Sorry. Clumsy. I'm always doing that. "Here she is now." No. Yes. No. "Hi," says Scary Paula. "Anyone need a drink?"

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