Hmm, it’s interesting that Geoffrey Poskett has got nowhere in his application
for the Headship and he is a Yorkshireman, said Dru. It was her free afternoon
and she was sharing her thoughts with her mother and Sonia in Royalist
What’s that got to do with it? asked Sonia.
Everything, replied Dru. You see, various institutions, even in the independent
sector, feel that they are not attracting enough staff from minority
Yorkshiremen- or should I say Yorkshire people?- form a fairly large
gene pool, remarked Sonia. I should think that his rejection is more
likely to be down to ageism, rather than Lancastrian bias.
Well, you’ll never guess who has been put on the short-list? Dru teased.
Go on, I’ll never guess, said her mother. Not that young chap who sang
in the concert?
You’ve got it! Dru was perturbed to be in competition with Nigel. She
twisted the gold harp on its chain-the one he had sent her after their
performance. His name is Nigel Milford-Haven.
He looked about nineteen! Diana expostulated. But, then again, I think
all young men do and not just members of law enforcement agencies.
Nigel is their ideal candidate, said Dru ruefully. You see, he is half Cornish
and half Welsh.
Presumably his father was Welsh with a surname like Milford-Haven? Diana
I assume so. He said something about going to his mother’s house when
he was at the St Endellion Festival-the holiday when he had to paint her
He is tres gentil, but Father hinted that his classroom management
leaves a lot to be desired. She hoped that she was not being disloyal.
Sounds like he’s in with a chance then, remarked a jaded Diana. It was often
those who couldn’t teach who sought promotion out of the classroom.
Well, he is offering extra curricular skills, such as ‘manning’- and I use the
term deliberately- the model railway club. Even the boys are not allowed to
lay a finger on the locomotives. To tell you the truth, we have exchanged
views on our joint success thus far. The poor guy is mortified to be
standing against me, yet thinks nepotism may rule the day, whereas I
think the Board of Governors will be very careful about my having put
myself forward while Father is Acting Head. I expect that they are
worried that I might accept the post and then go off on triple maternity
Well, it would serve them right if you did! said Sonia. I think you should
get pregnant immediately! After all, she remarked a little unkindly, you are
leaving things rather late. Let me look at your tea leaves and I’ll see if there
is anyone in the offing.
Dru blushed. She had drained her Lapsang and Sonia was becoming
I think a nice young man may be appearing on your horizon very soon.
Great timing! replied Dru. You wait for a decade or so and then he
materialises just as you are attempting to further your career.
Anyway, Nigel is sure to be the victor. To be Cornish is to be recognised as
hailing from a national minority group. He will probably put the Furry Dance
in the School Assembly. Pluralism is all nowadays. Article 26 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, advocates it. Positive discrimination is
the order of the day.
There was a reference in the press to a paper by Alistair Ross from some
Institute for Policy Studies in Education at London Metropolitan University,
What did it say? asked Dru.
Wait! I’ll find it in the re-cycling basket. She disappeared into the utility
room and returned triumphant. It poses the question: does it matter if the
teaching profession reflects the ethnic composition of society or not? He
thinks it does.
Dru looked as if she thought that the powers-that-be would concur.
Nigel will be seen to bring to his work a variant set of cultural norms,
appropriate for the diverse multi-cultural population of England. He will
reflect that range in his subconscious behaviour and attitudes, as they
Oh, stuff and nonsense! said Sonia. Forget the subconscious! And that is
coming from me as a retired Headmistress and a clairvoyant! It is what you
consciously transmit that is important in the classroom. Children don’t
analyse your subconscious, except to detect weakness when you say or
threaten something that you really do not intend to carry out. We always
used to talk about flagging things up. Making things explicit. ‘Do that once
again and you will be waiting behind after school, sort of thing.’ They didn’t
need a geiger counter to pick up our meaning.
Now their mothers refuse to let you detain them, said Dru. Parents have
to do the school run and pick up younger siblings at other establishments.
They refuse to be delayed. One has very few sanctions.
That’s the whole problem, stated Sonia. But there aren’t any Cornish
children at St Birinus Middle, are there? So whom would Nigel be
He is to make a stand against racism. Some children were heard calling him
The Pasty and The Piskey, as well as using his main moniker: Caligula, which
isn’t Cornish, obviously.
You see, said Sonia. if you forbid one thing, they will just adapt their
The plan is to change some of the signage in school to reflect the status of
the Cornish language, Dru broke in, and to teach them respect for other
The canteen are offering Hoggan and Scubmaw on Thursdays and Pesk on
Fridays. The Geography teacher is formulating a module on tin mining and
the Art teacher is taking a little trip to Tate St Ives.
Surely that is discriminatory against Tate Liverpool? argued Diana.
Apparently not. That department justified its choice by stressing that
Scouse culture had been over-represented in the past. The kids had all
heard of The Beatles, clarified Dru.
But Kernowek, the South Western Brittanic Celtic language was
extinct by the nineteenth century, Diana added. Mind you, they still
teach Latin. Maybe they could put up some Classical language signs-
you know, ‘Cloacae’!
Oh, no doubt that would be to represent any families who descend from
Roman deserters who jumped the wall and ran off with local girls, I
suppose? Sonia said cynically.
Yes, well, they want minority languages resurrected like phoenixes, Dru
pointed out. They have already added a sign on the door to the Gents’,
saying: Gwer Privedhyow.
Hmm, Sonia said. Maybe phoenix is the current buzzword. If you grew
a beard you might represent something like that Eurovision person. You
could stand for all gender variations. You’ve actually got a little bit of a
Dru ran a finger over her upper lip. It wasn’t that noticeable, was it?
She still intended to turn up for the interview day. Nigel had better
not exploit the agenda by claiming to object to Anglocentric
He had been taken seriously. So had she. But she did hope that
she wouldn’t be confused with Conchita Wurst, in spite of hirsutism
raising its stubble. There had been headmistresses in the past who
favoured drag- Alastair Sim, for one, but she hoped that she could be
rise to the top of the greasy pole in her own merits, and without
gender being an issue. And it wasn’t a lap dancing pole.
She suddenly wondered if she could conceive, or whether the moustache
might be a sign that she should heed Time’s winged chariot.
Was the expression of biological urge more important than the desire
for a role as demiurge? Maybe she and Nigel should dispense with the
Platonic and get a life together? Or make lives together?