Power to the pupils
And is it any surprise when so much of modern society seems designed to enrage even the mildest-mannered, middle class, middle-aged white bloke?
Only last night I found myself ranting and raving at the telly, like Heather Mills McCartney on the blob, when a throwback to the 1970s turned up in a news report from the National Union of Teachers’ annual conference. Paul McGarr is his name and he’s a teacher from east London.
Mr McGarr’s beef wasn’t pay and conditions, the state of our school buildings or his profession’s appalling dereliction of the simple duty of teaching children to read and write. No, what was getting up his nose was the fact that the Army distributed publicity material in schools. Shock horror.
Where do we begin with this? It seems to me to be eminently reasonable that the Army might seek to recruit school-leavers from the poorer areas of the country, not because these ill-educated youths are mere cannon fodder, but because six years in uniform will give them the basic life skills, self-discipline and sense of purpose that six years of state education has miserably failed to do. If you doubt me, ask one of them.
But this doesn’t seem apparent to Mr McGarr, who stamped his little feet at the podium and demanded what he called “realistic” publicity: “We would have material from the MoD saying ‘Join the Army and we will send you to carry out the imperialist occupation of other people's countries’
“Join the Army and we will send you to bomb, shoot and possibly torture fellow human beings in other countries.
“Join the Army and be sent, probably poorly equipped, into situations where people try and shoot you and kill you because you are occupying their countries.
“Join the Army and if you survive and come home, possibly injured and mentally damaged by the experience, you and your family will be shabbily treated.”
What a rotter. Now I’m sorry, but I thought we had the right to expect our children to receive a reasonable and well-balanced education – to be able to consider both sides of an argument and come to their own, reasoned conclusion.
With teachers like this, I worry that they’re being force fed a diet of left-wing propaganda, the likes of which I haven’t heard since the 70s. It’s an absolute disgrace. If those were right wing opinions that Mr McGarr was spouting, he’d be out of a job by the mid-morning break.
I don’t know what the schools in east London are like, but I suspect that they’re not very good. It’s a shame that Mr McGarr can’t channel his energies into raising the bar a bit, instead of outing himself as a political dinosaur who undermines his own profession at the same time as disrespecting the 6,000-plus men and women of the armed forces who are on active duty at the moment.
SO ALL this probably explains why I had an overwhelming urge to cosh the woman in front of me at the supermarket till because she seemed surprised that the cashier should ask her to pay for her shopping after she’d packed it away.
She stood there, apparently baffled, while her children, little Tia Maria and her sister Jay Cloth, gambolled around the aisles stealing sweets from the display. Then she slowly searched through her bag for her purse, then fumbled out a card, and then promptly forgot her PIN number (yes, I know that’s an oxymoron, the ‘N’ already standing for ‘number’. So do you want to make something of it?)
AND THEN there was the annual trek to IKEA the other week. Driving into the car park an hour after opening time, the joint already resembled a Bruegel painting. It was pouring with rain and a woman was screaming at her husband to hurry up and get the Billy bookcase into the car because the cardboard box was dissolving.
In the next parking bay, a young couple were trying to force a king-size mattress into a white Fiat Uno (one owner, Royal connections, scrape of black paint down one side). It was hopeless, the mattress occupying more spatial volume than the car.
At least, I thought, as I entered the one-way tunnel of hate, there’ll be cheap hotdogs or meatballs at the end of it. But even those never quite live up to expectations. Yes, IKEA might do the cheapest breakfasts in the world, but are you sure that is really bacon? And those meatballs – you order 25 with extra jam, chips and gravy and dig in only to find that you’re done after the first five. And why are you eating jam with meatballs in the first place? It’s just wrong.
After that, there’s little to compensate for the two-hour March of Hell. If you’re really lucky you might find a couple of gays having a row in the fabrics department, or a childless 50-year-old woman having a snivel in the kids’ department, but that’s it as far as entertainment is concerned.