Tuesday, 16 June 2009


I wandered into the kitchen this afternoon to see how my wife was progressing with the task I had assigned her. She was supposed to be covering my report with some old wallpaper to protect it, but didn't seem to have got very far. Not only that, but given it was past 1.15pm there was something else that immediately gave me concern.

"Are you chewing?" I demanded.

She looked suitably sheepish as she held up a Polo packet.

"In the bin. NOW! And give me that packet."

She handed it over and hurried to the pedal bin. I tucked the Polos into my top pocket while she returned to her seat.

"You may see me at the end of the week to get these back. Now, how are you getting on with covering my report?"

"Actually, I've been flicking through it and there are some parts of it that I don't understand."

I smiled in that reassuring I-am-an-expert kind of way and sat down opposite her at the kitchen table.

"This part about inspectors having the right to enter the home where a child is being educated..."

"Yes, go on."

"Is that really.... necessary....?"

"What?! Of course it's necessary. Who knows what sort of environment these children are being taught in? Listen, this may shock you, but I strongly suspect a lot of these homes don't have a proper blackboard!"

This didn't seem to shock her at all. She can be a funny woman sometimes.

"Not only that, but what about changing facilities? When it's time for P.E. there needs to be a proper area where the children can get changed."

"What about their bedrooms?"

I regarded her sadly with a slow shake of the head. She just doesn't think these things through.

"Unsupervised....? Have you any idea what kind of chaos that could lead to? Towel-flicking, clothes not hung up on pegs, shoes in the middle of the floor. And have you considered inappropriate behaviour?"

"Not recently," she sighed with a curiously wistful expression, I thought!

"Some of them might use it as an opportunity to get away with wearing jewellery or make up." I explained.

She leafed through the report a bit.

"And your concerns on the suitability of parents to teach children....?"

"Look, we need to ascertain what sort of views these children will be exposed to. What if the parents have strong religious or political views? They might not be the correct ones!"

"Such as....?"

"Challengers of authority! Anarchists, Communists, Maoists, Trotskyists, neo-Trotskyists, crypto-Trotskyists, union leaders, Communist union leaders, atheists, agnostics, long-haired weirdos, short-haired weirdos, vandals, hooligans, football supporters, tree huggers, muggers, tree-hugger-muggers, headshrinkers, real ale drinkers, punk rockers, glue-sniffers, dole-scroungers, vegetarians and people with ginger hair!"

If anything, she looked more alarmed.

"But applying your criteria, what would you be left with?" she asked. "Thugs, racists, bully-boys, psychopaths, sacked policemen, ex-security guards, disgraced prison officers, ex-military fascists, neo-fascists, crypto-fascists, loyalists, neo-loyalists, crypto-loyalists and people with rampant dandruff!"

"Exactly!" I proclaimed, "The backbone of the teaching profession!"

We were both distracted by the banging of the catflap. Our malevolent tomcat was heading for his bowl until he spotted me. He paused mid-stride to favour me with his normal baleful glare. I honestly don't know what it is with this animal. He seems fine with everyone else, but has a demonstrable lack of respect when it comes to me. I named him Edgar Allan Poe when we first got him, but my wife has taken to calling him "Autonomous Ed", which infuriates me!

He sat down on the quarry tiles and began licking his nether regions, one eye still fixed on me in open challenge! In the kitchen, I ask you!

"You see!" I waved a finger at the cat, "That's exactly the kind of thing we need to prevent. And not just that.... do you realise that in some of the homes where children are being educated the parents still..... they still have.... relations?!"

"Mother's coming on Saturday," she said. She can be quite obtuse at times.

"Sex!" I was becoming exasperated, "Imagine that!"

She got that strange wistful look in her eyes again. I swear I don't understand the woman at all sometimes.

"But even if everything you say was true," she said slowly, "wouldn't children at school still be exposed to all of that when they go home... and at weekends.... and during holidays?"

"Well now you're just being silly," I said. "You’re just trying to justify your own narrow viewpoint with unsubstantiated supposition."

"Yes, I see that," she admitted. "It really needs an expert to be able to do that sort of thing."

"Exactly!" I treated her to my full-on 'what-a-clever-girl' beam. "And I AM an expert!"

"Yes, dear..." she said, but in a strange and quiet way.

"Come on, now," I patted her hand. "Finish covering that report. It'll be breaktime soon and you can go outside and fetch the washing in."

She continued in silence for a moment while I grabbed a chalk from my pocket and threw it at Autonomous Ed.

"Oh... I nearly forgot," she said. "You know the new family that moved in next door? I was talking to the mother earlier. It appears that they're home educating their children....."

I'm sure she must have that wrong. This is a nice neighbourhood...!


  1. Hello. I'm from the RSPCA.
    Some people have been saying that experts are more likely to abuse their pets. You might after all be using your expertise as a cover for all kinds of ill treatment of that cat.
    LIKE MAKING IT SWIM for example.
    We demand the right of access to your home, and what's more, having registered your pet, we shall expect an annual recording of its barking satisfactorily. It must bark like MY dog, OK?
    What's that you say?
    Sorry, I've only ever had dogs, I can't be doing with cats, and if you want to keep a pet, you'd better just make sure it can bark. And cock its leg. Otherwise, I can't see how it will possibly achieve the five outcomes of the EPM agenda.
    And it's my job to ensure it does.
    I'll be speaking to my mate Ballsy about you.

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  3. Good grief, I thought the blog post was good, but Jackie's comment was just pure genius!

  4. This blog lacks any real evidence based research but lovely to see this is something the author feels light hearted about this topic.

    I just hope there isn't a report implicating bloggers of any dubious intent oh I forgot the government wants to and probably already vets blogs and facebook.

  5. Graham, I am very concerned, it is not often a blog keeps me awake at night with unauthorised fits of giggling!!

  6. Mr. Badman,

    You sir, may poke fun at what you have offered up as your assessment of the present state of home education and the direction in which you would wish to see it go, but none of us who are staring into the abyss you have created share your views in the least.

    IF HE was the 'problem' that you perceive it to be then reason would be that we should bear with you - but it is not.

    No, if anything it is a community of level-headed, forward-thinking, concerned parents who wish to see their children take their place in this society and contribute to the economy of this country in meaningful ways.

    There is a small truckload if existing legislation which is more than adequate to the task of policing parents who wish to educate their children at home, so why pray tell, is it necessary to enact more?

    It is feared that this blog post is a visible manifestation of that old saying, "never a truer word said in jest", we live in hope of being wrong on that count...

  7. Not happy with the line about teachers. Badman and his irrationalities are fair game and the system is fair game. But if it weren't for some of the good people working in education, schools would be a lot worse than they are. So i.m.o. it's not fair to malign teachers as a group. Surely Badman and Balls are big enough targets in their own right?

    (Sorry this comment isn't as funny as Jackie's :-) )

  8. I dont think anyones commenst could be as funny as Jackies lol