She looked suitably sheepish as she held up a Polo packet.
"This part about inspectors having the right to enter the home where a child is being educated..."
"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!"
"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?"
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!"
"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!"
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!
"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?!"
"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...!