My pleasant two-week sojourn in the backwaters of British education is over for another year. Every year about this time schools up and down the land discover that they have basically finished the syllabus and have more reports to write than can comfortably be managed while managing a class of screaming, hyperactive monkeys, making it an ideal juncture to bring in an outside tutor to run some workshops. And so it is that I am invited in to introduce said hyperactive monkeys to the delights of Javanese gamelan.
Although a standing bet with No Good Boyo compels me to refer to them as monkeys, I do have to say - to the chagrin of Daily Mail readers everywhere - that the vast majority of today's yoof are in fact pleasant, well-mannered (if talkative) young people who show a a keen and intelligent interest in things. You just have to know how to talk to them. Or failing that, pick a subject such as gamelan which means that whenever you go into a school you have a large array of hammers immediately to hand.
The exception is Year 9, or what in old money was called 'third formers'. These are 13-14 year olds, wallowing in the first wash of strange hormones and convinced that street-cred involves sniggering, refusing to answer questions and being sulky. "Attichood" is everything, and can be accurately gauged at a glance by the amount of time spent on the haircut. The more gel, dye, sticky-up bits and razored designs involved, the less cooperative will be the tiny brain rattling about inside. Girls with long plaits or boys with tousled fringes are never a problem, for some reason.
I propose that this should be used as the basis of a new stop-and-search initiative by the police. Better still, march all the hairdressers off to re-education camps to be taught more useful skills. Sheep-shearing, perhaps. Although doubtless a few months down the line there will be the first reports of delinquent sheep with gel in their wool terrorising old-age pensioners. You read it here first. I think I need to go and take one of the blue tablets now. No wonder teachers are all so twitchy...