WITH the prospect of global nuclear war looming larger than it has in decades, I’m a bit torn.
There’s a big down side, obviously.
I don’t fancy being incinerated in an instant or enduring radiation poisoning, much less having my loved ones suffer the same fate.
On a brighter note, I worry less about radiation poisoning now than I did during my Cold War childhood in the ‘70s and ‘80s. After all, my hair’s already fallen out, my eyesight and hearing are deteriorating and I frequently suffer from confusion.
I’m not so keen on the actual snuffing it in agony thing, or on hundreds of millions of innocent people being in peril because some daft man-children can’t play properly, but you can’t have everything.
I wonder who’ll be brought in to do the voiceovers for the new Protect And Survive Public Information films.
The last guy, Patrick Allen, was a bit too serious. If somebody’s telling me how deep to bury Auntie Nelly or which bits of the family pets can safely be eaten raw, I’d prefer them to sound a little cheerier.
I reckon we should get Kermit the Frog.
Term time travel ban is no victory
LAST year, you may recall, a Swindon man called Richard Davey was hauled into court for taking his child on a short holiday during school term time.
This was in spite of the child having a 95 per cent attendance record.
Fortunately, common sense prevailed and he was acquitted, but now the Supreme Court, ruling in a case brought against a man from the Isle of Wight, has effectively opened the floodgates for more parents to be prosecuted.
Plenty of Establishment talking heads hail the decision as a victory for education, but they’re wrong.
It is a victory, though.
For example, it’s a victory for chiselling, gouging travel companies to carry on chiselling and gouging. They can tell parents: “Want to take the kiddiwinks on holiday, eh? Well, that’ll cost you nine times as much as it would during term time, and there’s nowt you can do about it.
“What’s that you say? Take them in term time? We suppose you could, but that’s a nice, clean record you have there. It’d be a shame if you blotted it with a criminal conviction that could harm your home life, your career and possibly prevent you from obtaining visas for certain countries.
“The law’s on our side; pay up.”
The decision is also a victory for the people in overall charge of education.
They can tell us: “All these prosecutions prove we care. Concentrate on that and that alone. Don’t distract yourselves thinking about the underfunding of schools.
“Worry not about the fact that your kid keeps coming home with plaster in her hair because the classroom ceiling hasn’t been repaired in 20 years.
“Give no thought to plunging teacher morale, the recruitment crisis or rules allowing entire schools to be handed over to the control of religious maniacs and other weirdos.”
It’s a victory for cash-strapped local authorities, who will find easy pickings among financially hard-pressed parents. Faced with the choice between being unable to take their children on holiday at all or quietly stumping up the fixed penalty and avoiding legal trouble, many will opt for the latter.
The Supreme Court ruling is quite possibly a victory for the parents of genuine truants, the adults who neglectfully fail to send their children to school regularly or at all.
I hope for their children’s sake that I’m wrong, but I fear certain local authorities will be tempted toward the easy option of going after essentially law-abiding people rather than spending time and resources on the difficult cases.
Finally, the ruling is a victory for utter nonsense.
The official line is that term-time holidays cause chaos, with children struggling to catch up. Strangely, those of us who were taken on occasional term-time holidays as children have no memories of such chaos. In fact, we remember borrowing friends’ notes and doing some extra reading to make up for the few days absence.
Amid all these victories there are some losers, notably the children who, in spite of excellent school attendance, will be deprived of family holidays for no other reason than that their parents are not wealthy enough to meet extortionate costs.
Strangely, the private schools, where many of those who make our laws can afford to send their children, are exempt from the term time travel rules.
Culprit is close to home
THERE must be something wrong with me. You see, I find myself sympathising with Swindon Borough Council over a library-related issue.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport – part of the Government, in other words – is to decide whether the council has failed to provide an adequate library service.
Say what you like about the horrible cuts imposed by the local authority, but it didn’t impose them for chuckles.
We can – and should - criticise it for targeting libraries instead of taking any number of other options, but we can be fairly sure nobody at the Civic Offices said: “I’m bored, so let’s kill some libraries.”
No, they imposed the cuts because our council, like plenty of others, is being starved of resources by Whitehall.
And now Whitehall is investigating the adequacy or otherwise of the council’s library provision.
On the scale of sheer, unadulterated cheek, this is right up there with, say, cutting somebody’s arm off with a chainsaw and then criticising them for having poor juggling skills.
Or, as the old saying has it, answering a call of nature through a complete stranger’s letterbox and then knocking on the door and asking how far it went.