All Change Please! is sad to record the passing last week of Mr Glibbly after many years at the Df-ingE. He was a reliable source of satirically humorous subject matter and his wildly misinformed, inappropriate and politically divisive, ideologically-led speeches as the inspiration for many of its most scurrilous posts. In tribute here is a selection of some of All Change Please!‘s coverage of his most outrageous policies and comments.
Let’s just hope he took his copy of E.D. Hirsch’s ‘Cultural Literacy‘ with him before he left the building.
But thankfully it seems that Mr Glibbly lives on and continues to speak to us in glibbledegook from beyond wherever ministers from Planet Glibbly go to when they are on their way down. Here’s Mr Glibbly’s ghost still imploring us not to abandon GCSEs and to continue to teach nothing but the knowledge, the whole knowledge and nothing but the knowledge: Nick Gibb: My advice to my successors at Education.
The big breaking news of the day is that Gav’s Gone and will be quickly forgotten. In his role as Secretary in a State about Education at the Df-ingE he will perhaps be best remembered for his utterly convincing portrayal of Frank Spencer in ‘Some PMs Do ‘Ave ‘Em.
As always, All Change Please!’s thoughts rapidly turn to the next incumbent of the post and its curious need to come up with a suitably derisory alternative name by which to call them in its posts. Previous examples have included MichaelGova, Nicky Morgove, Miss Piggy, Little Miss-Trust and Damian Hindsight.
During the afternoon there had of course been rumours as to who it might be. First out of the trap was Kemi Badenoch who might have become ‘Kemi (Things are) Bad Enough (Already)’. Another tip had been the return of Little Miss-Trust, this time as the real thing, but it seems she’s off to charm the world as Foreign Secretary.
Oliver Dowden was however considered the front runner, and All Change Please! was sorely tempted to consider re-naming him as Oliver “Now Then, Now Then”, but would like to make it quite clear there was absolutely no justification for doing so
But in the end the winner was the outsider Nadhim Zahawi, aka the Vaccine Minister. Generally he has been well received by the twittering educational pundits. In case you were wondering, he has a degree in chemistry* with previous experience as early years and apprenticeships minister and so is likely to be interested in the skills agenda, even if he himself attended a highly academic public school. He has generally been described as a ‘safe pair of hands’, ‘someone who doesn’t cause too much trouble or doing anything hugely interesting.’ Despite this though, somehow he has managed to set up and own the ‘YouGov’ polling organisation and is very wealthy, being, amongst other things, a property owner and landlord, and the Chief Strategy Officer of Gulf Keystone (an Iraqi Oil Company) with a monthly salary of over £20,000. Oh well, no-one’s perfect. Let’s just hope he can find a few poorly-paid moments to use his recent experience to inject some sense into the mess that is currently the politics of education.
However All Change Please! is now presented with a difficult challenge – how to come up with a mildly amusing name for him that can’t be viewed as being in any way racist. It seems it’s going to have to wait until he does something humorous to refer to, which given the nature of his new job and the current shambles of a Tory Party, probably won’t be too long.
Oh well, the appointment could have been worse – indeed it could have been Pritti Awful…
*Scholarship Quiz Question: Who was the last chemist to hold the post of Education Secretary and what happened to her, and the country, as a result?
Despite the extensive criticism from teachers,All Change Please! has warmly welcomed the Df-ingE’s plan to introduce compulsory Latin music and dance for all secondary school students. As such it provides a fantastic opportunity for children to learn history, geography, Spanish, Portuguese and French in the context of music and dance.
N.B. There is a slight possibility that All Change Please! might have slightly misunderstood the Df-ingE’s intentions.
“The music of Latin America refers to music originating from Latin America, namely the Romance-speaking countries and territories of the Americas and the Caribbean south of the United States. Latin American music also incorporates African music from enslaved African people who were transported from West and Central Africa to the Americas by European settlers, as well as music from the indigenous peoples of the Americas.
Due to its highly syncretic nature, Latin American music encompasses a wide variety of styles, including influential genres such as cumbia, bachata, bossa nova, merengue, rumba, salsa, samba, son, and tango. During the 20th century, many styles were influenced by the music of the United States giving rise to genres such as Latin pop, rock, jazz, hip hop, and reggaeton.
Geographically, it usually refers to the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking regions of Latin America, but sometimes includes Francophone countries and territories of the Caribbean and South America as well. It also encompasses Latin American styles that have originated in the United States such as salsa, New Mexico music, Tejano, various forms of country-Western, as well as Chicano rock, Nuyorican rap, and Chicano rap. The origins of Latin American music can be traced back to the Spanish and Portuguese conquest of the Americas in the 16th century, when the European settlers brought their music from overseas. Latin American music is performed in Spanish, Portuguese, and to a lesser extent, French.“
Oh, and in case you were wondering, ‘syncretic‘ means:
“…combining of different beliefs, while blending practices of various schools of thought. Syncretism involves the merging or assimilation of several originally discrete traditions, especially in the theology and mythology of religion, thus asserting an underlying unity and allowing for an inclusive approach to other faiths. Syncretism also occurs commonly in expressions of art and culture (known as eclecticism) as well as politics (syncretic politics).”
And as it happens, syncretic is derived from the modern Modern Latin syncretismus, thus giving children the chance to learn some Latin too.
What’s not to like?
All Change Please! approached the Df-ingE for comment but was told to ‘Astor Piazzolla Off’ and anyway it was just id est spectare ad exitum ‘Missa In Last Paris’. All Change Please! understands that roughly translated this means that it was on it’s way out to watch ‘Last Tango in Paris’.
Fortunately All Change Please! knows when it has been Tango’d.
Homework: Get up-to-date with your knowledge of Latin American music here.
Over recent weeks All Change Please! has been avidly tuning in to the latest episode of the BBCs ‘True Crime’ podcast on Sounds entitled ‘The Lazarus Heist’.
The early episodes describe the attempt to steal a billion dollars from Sony Pictures in November 2014. During the hack, the group, known as the ‘Guardians of Peace’, demanded that Sony withdraw its then-upcoming film ‘The Interview’, a comedy about a plot to assassinate North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, and threatened terrorist attacks at US cinemas screening the film.
Sony resisted their demands so the hackers released confidential data that included personal information about Sony Pictures employees and their families, emails between employees, information about executive salaries at the company, copies of then-unreleased Sony films, plans for future Sony films, scripts for certain films, and other information. They then managed to erase Sony’s computer infrastructure. The US Investigators blamed North Korea, but Pyongyang has denied involvement.
Later episodes cover the Bangladesh Bank Cyber Heist in February 2016 which has been potentially attributed to the same group of hackers. It’s surprising that these events were not given greater prominence in the newsfeed of the time as they serve to illustrate just how vulnerable our IT systems can be to really able and motivated hackers.
But that’s not what this post is all about!
In Episode 5, ‘Cyber Warriors’ the focus is on what it is apparently like to live and work in North Korea and it provides an alarming account of the level of surveillance and state control that exists there and of the priority they give to developing tools of Cyber warfare.
According to the programme, this article and this web-site (all of which of course may or may not contain its own government-led propaganda), life in North Korea essentially works like this:
Because there is no open internet the North Koreans live in a closed information bubble and therefore have no idea what life is like in the rest of the world. Only a few people are allowed to use mobile phones.
They are used to and accept that they must simply do what they are told to do by those in power, who cannot be disagreed with under any circumstances.
There is a constant fear of retribution from the government if people step out of line or dare to question the conditions.
If they dissent they are almost certainly severely punished, sometimes in public as an example to others. This might include being sent to labour camps.
People are resigned to monotonous daily lives and simply go through the motions because it is easier than challenging the situation.
There is rarely laughter on the street or spirited conversation between friends.
Everyone has to wear exactly the same, identical clothing. There is a nationwide ban on skinny jeans and some body piercings. There is a choice of just 15 different ‘proper’ hair-styles that may be worn.
New technologies are treated with suspicion through fear of unemployment due to automation.
Traditional art, singing and dancing are considered to be very important, particularly in education.
Electricity is only available at certain times of the day.
Now all this got All Change Please! thinking…
Because life in too many typical UK schools essentially works like this:
Children are not allowed to use mobile phones to interact with real life outside school and use of the internet is often restricted.
They are used to and accept that they must simply do what they are told to do by those in power, who cannot not be disagreed with under any circumstances.
There is a constant fear of retribution if children step out of line or dare question the curriculum.
If they dissent they are almost certainly severely punished, sometimes in front of their classmates as an example to others. This might include being sent to isolation booths.
Children are resigned to monotonous weekly timetables and simply go through the motions because it is easier than challenging the situation.
Laughter in the corridors or spirited conversation between friends is often forbidden.
Everyone has to wear exactly the same, identical uniform. Jeans, body piercings and unconventional hairstyles are banned.
New technologies are treated with suspicion through fear of teacher unemployment due to automation
Art, singing and dancing are considered to be of little importance in education.
But at least our schools do have electricity throughout the day.
A recent tweet made use of the word ‘humdrum’, which set All Change Please! wondering what sort of a musical instrument a Humdrum actually might be.
The suggestion from out there in the electronic universe is that humdrum initially comes from the word ‘hum’ (as in to hum a tune). The word hum was later applied to the hummingbird to describe the thrumming sound of its rapidly beating wings. Hum is an imitative onomatopoeic word, and the repetitious ‘um’ in humdrum is probably meant to capture an idea of dreary, monotonous droning, and so has come to mean boring, uninteresting, commonplace, routine, dull, etc. As in the sound of a teacher’s voice droning on endlessly at the front of the class.
Meanwhile the ‘drum’ also possibly derives from the sound of someone ‘drumming’ their fingers on a table-top. As in the sound of a bored student sitting at a desk or table, drumming their fingers, staring at the ceiling, ignoring everything the teacher is saying and just waiting for the bell to ring to signal the end of the lesson.
But let’s get back to the tweet in which the word humdrum was used. This brief, but provocative, exchange involves the BBC’s surrogate Education Correspondent, your very own Miss_BS.
It’s yet another example of far-right propaganda that deserve a little deconstruction. To begin with, let’s accept that Coltrane practiced his scales as a boy, and that Shakespeare learned the works of Plutarch off by heart. Well, actually no, let’s perhaps instead accept that Shakespeare read the works of Plutarch, was influenced by them and referred to them in his plays. And that Coltrane, born into a musical family, as he was practicing scales was at the same time listening to and absorbing a wide range of creative music, and doubtless playing some melodies of the day too.
The problem with using the humdrum as the basis for the school curriculum is that for the vast majority of active young adults, desperate to forge their own identity and approach to life, the boring old humdrum is the last thing they want to engage with, especially if it’s presented in an academic context which seems to have little relevance to the real world. That’s not to say that practicing scales and learning things by rote should never be undertaken, but the need for it, and the recognition that it has value, has to grow out of an initial creative exploration of the world.
The traditionalists believe that you can’t be creative until you’ve been told and memorised all the relevant knowledge, and that’s what young people should be doing exclusively during their time at school. In reality, rather than coldly following forth the humdrum, creativity and knowledge closely interact, each feeding off each other, working together as two closely interwoven strands. It’s a bit like the ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg?’ conundrum. It’s impossible to say whether a creative idea or the relevant knowledge came first – and as ‘progressives’, who tend to be more open-minded and creative teachers, know and understand well.
Or to put it another way:
The traditionalists just don’t get that.
And our entire education system gets it wrong with teaching because of that one simple misunderstanding.
Well of course the sentence above, like the one in the tweet, is nonsense. There are a whole range of reasons why teaching is not always as good as it might be, but it’s quite ridiculous to suggest it’s all down to whether learning is humdrum or not.
All Change Please! remains curious as to which schools all these so-called extreme left-wing progressive teachers actually teach in en-masse, because all the schools it has ever visited have been staffed by teachers who are essentially academic in approach and largely devoid of creativity. At the same time it wonders how many such schools the hard-core trad tweeters have actually visited, and suspects they exist largely in their own fearful imaginations.
It’s a shame there has to be a propaganda war between so-called traditionalists and progressives – it’s not really very helpful and both sides expend far too much energy fighting each other. Fortunately in the majority of schools there’s some sort of balance between the two approaches, so young people get exposed to both approaches and make their own minds up as to what sorts of learning suit them best. But at the same time, teachers willing to take risks and break away from the past need to be encouraged and supported and feel confident they can stand-up to the barrage of criticism that is hurled at them by the traditionalists.
Learning in the past
Meanwhile, in other related news, the Df-ingE recently published its new music curriculum with a loud triumphal fanfare. Except disappointingly it doesn’t include any ‘new’ music at all, with the required listening being firmly placed within historically well-established genres categorised as ‘Western Classical Tradition (and Film Music)’, ‘Popular Music’ and ‘Musical Traditions’ (i.e. music from other cultures). It seems no mixing of genres is allowed, despite the fact that this is an important characteristic of much contemporary music. And of course there’s a regularly repeated chorus of humdrum traditional musical notation theory thrown in for good measure.
To be fair, it’s good that the ‘model’ curriculum promotes a wide range of influences but there is no inclusion of any music that involves improvisation, or is not based on the use of conventional melodies. There is no reference to composers who took creative risks, experimented and pushed the boundaries of music on during the 20th Century, such as Stravinsky, Stockhausen, John Cage, Steve Reich, Miles Davis, Hendrix and Bowie.
Sadly it has largely become the same with art education these days. In too many schools it’s become a well-rehearsed formulae of choose an established artist, learn how to copy their technique and use it as the basis for your own painting. Whatever you do, don’t take risks, be too experimental or try anything new in case you fail to get your top exam grade. On no account be intuitive, spontaneous or express yourself, don’t ask questions, and above all don’t make too much of a mess.
Of course there’s nothing wrong with learning about and been influenced by a wide range of historical exemplars, but what’s more important is to understand what’s happening today and to be able to anticipate and create the future, and not to just live in the past.
Tweet Of The Day
And finally, our Gav, Df-ingE Secretary in a State about Education has recently been widely criticised for claiming that children’s behaviour will have deteriorated during the pandemic and teachers will need to be extra strict as a result and deprive them of the opportunity of learning how to learn using their mobile phones. This recent Tweet Of The Day provides an alternative, much more positive message to send to the nation’s young people:
It’s been quite a while since All Change Please! reached up, dusted down and opened up its ‘Absolutely Absurd Alternative A to Z of Educashun‘ in which it takes a mildly humorous look at the way things are in our schools and sometimes compares them to life on the parallel universe of Planet Urth.
Finally it’s got to the letter E, which in terms of learning stands for things like Easter, Einstein, Encyclopedias and, of course, Elephants.
There are three main types of earning styles. Visual Earning is income mainly achieved by artists, photographers, designers, cinematographers, etc. Auditory Earning involves being paid to tell people what they should be doing or thinking, and finally Kinaesthetic Earning which essentially requires getting your hands dirty and receiving payment in cash.
While the assessment and application of different earning styles is generally considered to be very effective in industry, in schools they are considered to be a myth as only auditory earning has been shown to have any impact on written examination results. Thus many traditional teachers continue to endlessly drone on, addressing a class without any reference to visual or kinaesthetic earning.
On Planet Urth, teachers are keen to encourage children to learn how to earn for themselves using a variety of earning styles most appropriate to the purpose and their abilities.
In ancient times Easter was a religious festival when everyone went to church and dutifully listened on radio or TV to the Pope’s message from a balcony somewhere in Rome. It has since become an eagerly awaited celebration of the day that God invented the Chocolate Creme-filled Easter Egg.
However, what everyone really wants to know is why is Easter when it is and who works out exactly which weekend it will be each year? The answer is that it is determined by being the first Sunday that follows the first full Moon which occurs on or just after the spring equinox. To confuse everyone even further it was decided to use an alternative ecclesiastical calendar – which defines the date of the equinox as the 21st March even if it isn’t, instead of the more accurate astronomical one that can be the 20th, 21st or 22nd, depending on when it actually is. The name Easter has developed from the name of the goddess Ēostre which was the original name of the month of April. The first full moon that follows the March equinox is also known as the Paschal Full Moon, but we’ll quickly passover that.
Who says you can’t learn anything online?
And isn’t it a remarkable co-incidence that Easter always conveniently falls somewhere in the middle of the academic three-term spring holiday, just when the weather is getting a bit nicer and teachers and students can therefore all take a much longer break than just the Easter weekend.
That genius Einstein bloke knew a thing or two when he wrote that ‘Education consists of forgetting all the things you learned in school.‘ As a result, children in our schools must all be very highly educated, though of course it’s difficult to know whether they knew anything in the first place.
On Planet Urth they sensibly therefore have GCSEs in Forgetfulness. The less facts that you can remember, the higher the grade you are awarded. Unsurprisingly many students do very well in this exam and go on to be successful in life, though they can never quite recall how they managed it. Or exactly who that genius Einstein bloke was.
There’s a classic old joke which goes as follows: Watson: “What type of school did you go to Holmes?” Holmes: “Elementary, my dear Watson.”
What makes this interesting is that in the original novels, Holmes never utters exactly those words, although on occasion he does come quite close to them. The exact phrase was subsequently invented by others writers and journalists.
Meanwhile, a simple piece of deduction and an entirely reliable internet search reveals the explanation that Holmes could not possibly have attended an Elementary school because he was British, so he would have been to a Primary School. Except that before Primary Schools were re-named as such in the 1944 Education Act they were called Elementary schools, all of which goes to show that you can’t believe anything that you read on the internet.
As you might expect, on the parallel but slightly different Planet Urth, the phrase “Elementary, my dear Watson” appears regularly in the original novels, written by Sir Arthur Conan The Barbarian. Fortunately this means that know-it-alls are unable to cleverly explain that Holmes never actually says these words and therefore can’t go on to triumphantly proclaim that anyone who thinks Holmes attended a Primary school has no idea what they are talking about and you shouldn’t trust anything you read on the internet.
And anyway, as everyone on Planet Urth knows full well, in real life Holmes was Holmeschooled.
Elephantin the room
Every classroom has an elephant in it. Across the country there are enough elephants in classrooms to stretch from John o’Groats to Lands End, that is providing they stick to the trunk roads. And that elephant in the classroom is the current examination system. You can’t see it, but it’s always there, often sitting still, in complete silence, trying to hide behind a potted plant, under the table, or in the custard at lunch time.
Now as everyone knows, elephants never forget, which is why they are so good assessing knowledge. But unfortunately elephants are not so good at measuring other things, such as the number of buns they’ve eaten or the amount of water they’ve managed to spray over the teacher that morning. Meanwhile another problem with elephants is that they are quite unsuited to setting and grading computer based assessments as they are known to be afraid of mice.
So when it comes to assessing other skills and abilities, what we need are a much wider range of animals in classrooms who between them can measure a much wider range of important real-life things. For example..
• Beavers for assessing engineering • Birds for judging singing • Cats for relaxation techniques, sitting on mats and playing cool jazz • Crocodiles for making snap decisions • Dolphins and whales for long-distance communication • Dogs for empathy, caring and returning things people appear to keep throwing away • Foxes for developing cunning plans • Hyenas for telling good jokes • Leopards for spotting good solutions to problems • Moles for assessing the whole curriculum • Owls for wisdom and head-turning skills • Seals for the performing arts • Spiders for searching the web • Tigers for coming for tea • Wolves for collaboration • Zebras for road crossing safety.
On Planet Earth, many teachers support the idea of a ban on the use of encyclopedias in school and at home as children just copy straight from them and also may end up learning things that might not be appropriate. The advice is that teachers should no longer tell children to refer to encyclopedias when completing their homework as apparently it is like guiding them to a library without a librarian. Teachers also have a duty to point out that sometimes factual mistakes can occur in encyclopedias, and make sure children understand that they can’t learn everything from them. And as for that Wickedpedia…
End of Term
It’s strange isn’t it? In most cases, we feel sad when we come to the end of something – a tub of ice cream, a glass of our favourite beverage, a great film or concert, a relationship, life itself, indeed. But there’s nothing that compares with that wonderful, happy, delicious, care-free moment that is the end of term. In fact so much so that some schools have moved away from having three terms to having six terms, so that they can feel happy six times a year instead of just three.
How can you spot an academic in a crowd? It’s easy – they are the ones in the students’ union bar getting completely epistemological. In the unlikely case you’ve ever actually wondered, Epistemology is the study of the nature of knowledge, justification, and the rationality of belief. But that’s according to that Wickidpedia, so it’s probably not epistemologically correct. The best way to get rid of an unwanted academic it to tell them to epistemological off.
Make sure you keep an eagle eye out for All Change Please!’s next edition of its encyclopaedia of education when it turns its attention to the letter F and considers things such as Facts and Failures, Fixed mindsets and Flipped learning, Feedback and Fysics.
If you’ve wisely missed All Change Please!’s previous entries, you can continue to do so again by not clicking on the following links
When All Change Please! last caught up with Smith & Jones back in March 2020 they were deep in discussion about social distancing, whether it was safe to drink Corona beer and if the virus might infect their computers.Since then they have been managing to meet up for their usual deep philosophical discussions using Zoom. Here we eavesdrop on them considering the latest Df-ingE proposals for the summer GCSE and A level examination procedures.
Smith: “So what do you make of this latest announcement about teachers being given sweeping powers?”
Jones: “Well I guess some new, more powerful sweeping brushes will come in jolly useful for cleaning up the classroom floors at the end of the school day.”
Smith: “No, not sweeping brushes. They are going to be allowed to mark all their own students’ work for their GCSE and A level examinations.”
Jones: “Well that all sounds good – I mean their teachers must be best placed to judge how much their students have learnt. And much better than allowing that nasty rogue alligator to mark them.“
Smith: “I think you mean a rogue algorithm.”
Jones: “What’s one of them then?“
Smith: “I’ve absolutely no idea. We never had any computers when I was at school. Anyway, the problem is that teachers are likely to give their favourite pupils more marks and that’s going to produce grade inflation, so more children will get higher grades.”
Jones: “So what’s wrong with that then? I mean surely as a result less children will fail and end up being unemployed and on the streets?”
Smith: “Yes, I suppose you might have a point there. Of course at the same time some teachers might be tempted to give lower marks to the children they don’t like and who have been misbehaving.”
Jones: “Well, again – what’s the problem? Teachers are always complaining that standards of behaviour are dropping, so maybe now the kids will realise that all they have to do is to sit quietly and behave themselves and they’ll get better marks?“
Smith: “Ah yes, but then everyone who still gets a very low mark is then going to be appealing, aren’t they?”
Jones: “Well, that doesn’t follow. I mean I got very low marks in all my exams but that didn’t make me any more appealing did it?
Smith: “No, I guess it didn’t. Anyway I imagine this Sonny Boy Williamson chap will be long gone by the time it all happens in August.”
Jones: “Who’s he then?“
Smith: “You know, the Secretary in a State about Education.”
Jones: “Oh him! I thought that was Frank Spencer? Some Prime Minister’s do ‘ave ‘em, don’t they?“
Smith: “They certainly do. Anyway, so have you been jabbed yet?”
Jones: “No, I gave up boxing years ago after I was told too many jabs damaged the brain.“
Smith: “Yes, that probably explains a lot. No, I mean your vaccination.”
Jones: “Oh. No, we’ve decided not to plan any holidays yet until after this Coronation virus thing is over.“
Smith: “Are you still practicing safe social distancing then?”
Jones: “Oh yes, I’ll say. The missus is insisting I don’t go anywhere near her.Anyway I must be zooming off as I’ve got some chores to do around the house. I don’t suppose you know where I could get hold of one of those new power-assisted sweeping brushes do you?“
Advisory adult content warning! In its latest post All Change Please! appears to have reached a new low in its use of populist double-entendres and innuendos. It also needs to apologise in advance to all its hard working, dedicated readers who are studying for, or that already hold entirely deserved PhDs undertaken for all the right reasons, and alert them to the fact that certain parts of this post contain areas of content that might be felt to be highly sensitive .
Are you one of the many people suffering from PhD Envy? Do you lie awake for hours at night thinking that if only you had a higher qualification such as a PhD you would be a happier, more fulfilled person? Each year thousands of people begin PhDs in an attempt to address their feelings of inferiority, despite the fact that many are already proven successes in their work and domestic lives.
All Change Please!‘s fresh-faced junior reporter spoke to PhD student Lucy Lockett. She explained how one day when quite young she had been deeply and profoundly shocked to discover that, unlike many of her friends, she didn’t have a PhD and as a result was forced to confront the fact that they were all obviously far superior to her. Clearly there was an important gap in her qualifications that needed filling.
Meanwhile ‘Little’ Jack Horner admitted:
“Despite being always being a good boy at school, and I now run a successful multi-million pound Plum Pie business employing a hundred people, I often fantasise about what it would be like to have a really substantial qualification. When I go to staff meetings or parties I usually end up sitting in a corner as I am terrified someone will ask what my qualifications are and I will have to admit I left school at 16 and therefore don’t have a PhD and everyone will laugh at me for being so inadequate.”
Despite the fact that many people with PhDs have no idea how business works, some employers remain keen to appoint workers with Phd’s. Polly from the ‘Polly and Sookie Post Graduate Employment Agency’ told All Change Please!:
“People with PhD’s look extremely impressive on paper and are very good for company website profiles. However, employees with PhD’s are often over-confident and tend to spend too much time proudly waving their qualification about and taking photos of their certificate to share online. At the same time they spend forever collecting evidence and analysing the purely theoretical aspects involved, and not enough time actually doing the job they were hired to do, which in most cases involves putting the kettle on to make everyone a nice cup of tea.
Many people with PhDs discover that once they’ve got one, they don’t really know what to do with it. Meanwhile it is generally accepted that employees with lesser qualifications tend to try much harder and make much more effort to be successful performers in the office.”
Outside the workplace Ms Muffet admitted:
“Initially I had only considered partners that had massive higher degrees so I could boast about them to my friends and make them jealous, but in the end I quickly got bored with their endless sense of superiority and one-upmanship, their lack of interest in sustaining a successful career and their frustration about the pointlessness of their existence. They always seemed more interested in lengthy word-play before social discourse, which can be arousing at first but can eventually become rather tiresome.”
Little Boy Blue admitted that, eager to boost his credibility with his Young Conservative chums:
“ I simply falsely announced that I had recently been awarded a PhD. I immediately gained everyone’s congratulations and respect, and thereafter seemed to readily accept my ill-informed ideas. And of course no-one bothered to actually check if I actually had one.”
He is now proud to be known as Big Boy Blue.
Dr Foster from the University of Gloucester told All Change Please!:
“Many people think that all this stuff about PhD envy is just a load of bollox. As it happens I am particularly well funded in the genitalia department but the problem is no one can tell unless I take all my clothes off. However because I’ve got a PhD I can now insist everyone has to call me ‘Dr’, so they are constantly reminded exactly how academically well-endowed I am. In fact I’m now working on a second PhD.”
Multi-PhD qualified Professor Maximus Biggus recently published a little-read academic paper in which he stated:
“The constant desire for higher and higher qualifications is a relatively recent phenomena, reinforced by social pressure, media-stereotypes and academic employment selection panels with extremely stiff entry requirements. Not so long ago, PhDs were considered rather vulgar and something to be rather embarrassed about, and a simple 2nd class CNAA Degree from a Polytechnic was considered quite sufficient.”
At present there are no known cures for PhD Envy, although several Russell Group Universities have been awarded government research grants to see if they can develop a world-beating vaccine, despite it not being in their slightest interest to do so.
All Change Please!’s intrepid junior reporter nervously asked its CEO if he had a PhD, but was swiftly told to mind his own business.
There is growing disagreement amongst academics as to whether Michelangelo’s David was suitably qualified for his post.
With Boris Johnson poised to lead us out of Europe into the great unknown, All Change Please! has made a failed New Year’s attempt to try and reassure itself that Brexit will prove to be the great success we have all been promised. In doing so it has managed to uncover some priceless prophetic remarks made by Boris over the years…
Somewhat ironically there is indeed great wisdom in Boris’s words. He just needs to listen to himself a bit more often.
This time last year, Boris was imagining himself as Boris Bunter, winning the election. This year, in tribute to Sean Connery – the original and surely the best Bond who sadly passed away in October 2020 – All Change Please! is proud to announce its traditional seasonal literary decomposition of well known books, this year based as loosely as possible on the works of Ian Fleming and the 007 movie franchise scriptwriters.
“The name’s Blond. Boris Blond. Licensed to waffle. Commander Blond to my friends – I think that sounds more like I’m really in control, doesn’t it? The People of Britain think I’m their Prime Minister, but in real life I’m a secret special agent. And this my story…”
Boris was gently dozing in the House of Commons as Matt Hancock droned on and on about how Covid had been defeated at last, how wonderful everything was with the NHS, and we are simply the best at everything we do. Boris soon found himself in his secret place…
“Ah, Blond, there you are at last!” welcomed Moneypenny. “You’re to go straight In.”
Blond entered. As usual he was unable to see C’s face as it was in shadow, though he could clearly make out Larry the Downing Street cat sitting on C’s knee. The voice itself was of course digitally disguised, and Blond continued to wonder whether C actually stood for Cummings or Carrie, or possibly even for the Cat. He was still far from certain which of the three it actually was.
“Sit down Blond”, said C. “We have a problem. As you know, the reason you were placed under-covid as PM was that vast numbers of the people would vote for you and that the Tory party would remain in power forever. However we’ve received an intelligence report that someone in the party is planning to try and get rid of you and gain control of it themselves – and unfortunately there’s no one available who could ever be as popular as you are. So you’ve got to find out who it is and make sure that they are eliminated.
Whatever happens, we can’t afford to let the country fall into the hands of the Sustained Totalitarian And Revolutionary Marxist English Radicalisation organisation, or S.T.A.R.M.E.R. as it’s better known. Otherwise the next person to leave Number 10 carrying an empty cardboard box will be you.”
Blond felt confused and thought that all this sounded like an awful lot of effort and he might actually have to do something. Back in the outer office he flirted with Moneypenny as usual. Already his suspicions, amongst other things, were aroused. It occurred to him that Moneypenny looked suspiciously like Dishy Rishi wearing a wig. Was Moneypenny a clever financial code name for Chancellor of the Exchequer? Or was it time for a mission to Durham to get his eyes tested, which would give him a chance to try out his specially converted red Aston Martin DB5 bus with its ejector seat and customised revolving slogans?
Back at Number 10, Blond’s course of action was obvious – he needed to speak with everyone in the cabinet to see if he could identify who was out to get him. He flipped the special switch under his desk which transformed it into a 3D model of the Houses of Parliament. At the same time the bookcases swiveled round to become CCTV monitors surrounded with whirring computers and flashing lights. With this he could track anyone, anywhere.
Q entered. “Oh goody”, thought Blond, “some new toys to play with.” “We’ve just developed these new prototype supersonic blue-fi quantum zircon-encrusted, completely invisible laser earpieces.” announced Q proudly. “You place them discretely in your ears, and you won’t be able to hear what S.T.A.R.M.E.R is asking during difficult parliamentary sessions.” Blond tried to sound grateful, but he never paid attention to what anyone was saying anyway and always replied to them by saying the first thing that came into his head, and now no-one had come to expect anything better.
Boris’s first action was to call on one of his many Blond girls: Miss Trust, codename ‘Onatopp’. All she seemed to care about was pigs and cheese so it seemed unlikely to be her wanting the top job, although perhaps there was more to her than met the eye? And she was becoming increasingly popular with her imaginary trade deals. Perhaps her code name was a signal of her intention to get on to the top?
Next on his list of suspects was the infamous Dr Gnove. Now here was someone he certainly couldn’t trust and knew he would stab him in the back at the earliest opportunity. It was Dr Gnove who was the criminal mastermind who ordered the Operation Brex hit. “The man you need to speak to”, he cunningly misdirected, “works for the EU under the code name of Euric Fishfinger, codename Barnyard”.
His meeting with Barnyard didn’t go well and he got an extremely frosty reception. Barnyard fixed him with a penetrating laser-like stare. “Do you expect me to negotiate?” asked Blond. “No, Mr Blond, I expect you to capitulate.” replied Barnyard. Blond was clearly shaken. But not stirred.
After he had released Blond, Barnyard turned to his faithful female sidekick Ursula Von der Undress and instructed her to “Look after Mr Blond. See that some harm comes to him.“
Next on his list was Rosa-Mogg, aka Rosa Klebb. What evil weapon might emerge out of his top hat? Or was Rosa-Mogg’s appearance just a cunning disguise for the notorious henchman OddMogg with the brim of his hat made from steel? He found the idea of Rosa-Mogg as a future PM shocking. Positively shocking.
Then there was Pussy Patel – as she preferred to be known – though in reality her name was Priti Evil: code name ‘May Day’. She was quite a woman, and the sort that didn’t easily fall for Blond’s natural charm and wit, but then he wasn’t known as Thunderpants for nothing. Sitting in front of her, he nervously stroked the barrel of the Whitty PPE 380 automatic pistol he kept handily in his trouser pocket: Laura Iceberg had warned him about her, so he had taken precautions, especially as he was in no hurry to be left dangling high up on a zip-wire again.
“What did I say not to do?”
“Let her get away with being a bully.”
And what did you do?”
“I let her get away with being a bully.”
Some time later, Blond reported back to C. “So Blond. What have you managed to discover?” quizzed C. “Has the problem been dealt with?” Fortunately for Blond he was still wearing his special white noise conversation cancelling airbuds so he had no idea what C was asking him.
“Piffle wiffle”, he responded in his usual manner, “waffle, spiffle, hands, face, space, shorter, safer, smaller, wishy, washy, wooly, bully, hanky, panky, do this, don’t do this, Foucault, Scaramanga, Jaws, Blofeld, Oddjob, Blojob, Zorin. Octopussy, Bambi, Thumper, Carrie, Wilfred, Dylin, Larry… Yes,” he concluded, “it was a tough challenge, but by a process of painstaking elimination it can only be Larry the Downing Street cat who truly has ambitions to take over as PM and rule the world.”
C was somewhat taken aback, having assumed that Blond was quite incapable of getting anything anywhere near right. Just for once had he actually worked out what was going on?
Boris woke with a start. Hancock’s half-hour was nearly up. His thoughts turned to more domestic matters and he wondered how well his oven-ready Christmas turkey was going to go down. Somehow he knew that it was him who was going to get stuffed in the New Year and that his goose was well and truly cooked.
And then what about Carrie’s suggestion that they should have yet another child in addition to the six he already had. If they did, would she would agree to naming it 007?
All Change Please! would like to wish all its readers a Happy New Tier.
And finally a reminder to stay safe with this modified poster from 1919 that sends a far more powerful message than anything else around today.