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Good afternoon.
It is still said that if you want your child to go to Eton you have to "put their name down" in the instant between the mid-wife creating their tummy button and the doctor slapping their bum. Having a son helps, too, though I suspect the same applies to lassies destined for Beneden, Roedean and St. Paul's Girls. But for most folk who are happy to give the state schools a go you apply in the year before they are supposed to start. "Comprehensive" was the name given to the system created in the 60s by a Labour Government with more Winchester, St Paul's and Westminster School types on board than a shadow Tory Cabinet could shake a boater at. "All encompassing" in terms of subject, ability and student - that was the idea. So it will have come as a bit of a shock to the parents and guardians of 26000 little darlings when they discovered that their off-spring had not managed to get a place at their 1st, 2nd and even 3rd choice of school! And, for a further 5000, there is so far no school at all. Now that might bring a naughty smile and cause a glint to the eyes of the Just Williams among the younger generation but their folks don't get the joke. We've the story and we've the advice. Don't fret: it doesn't involve a trip to Eton Wick or Harow - nor being measured up for a tail coat and shirt with "wings". Glen dons his short trousers and blazer to do the Tom Brown bit for you.
I have taken to wondering just how big the Governments sofa is - it seems they are always coming up with vaste amounts of money to replace even more vaste amounts that have been lost. I think the money is lost down the back of their sofa only to be found, miraculously, again alongside biscuits and bits of Lego. Bozza has just taken delivery of a cast-off settee as he has just "found" £135 million to give housing a boost in the capitol. And he, the former Tory MP for Henley, says only the public sector can rescue us from the collapse in the market. He has in common with Karl Marx unruly hair but I didn't know they had economic analysis in common, too. He'll be quoting Rousseau to the 'chavs' next, telling them to shake off their" chains" and be free again.
Phil is our man from Land of Leather checking that delivery at the City hall treasury.
Three separate deliveries - 2, 3 and 5 years ago - created a family of siblings no one wants. Merton wants to keep them together and is looking for a family with lots of love and lots of bedrooms who might take them on. It is a tall adoption order but there are really good folk out there so we are helping Merton in their hunt. Liz is our version of Dr Barnado's beautiful young sister.
Queen Victoria died a fat, bloated and bitter old thing whatever people like Richard Starkley and Norman St John Stevas tell you. She had so many children it made Merton's challenge look like one extra nipper for tea. She was in mourning for more than a quarter of a century and presided over a time of rank hypocrisy, appalling architecture and troubling colonial expansion. That said, they made some lovely stamps with her profile on and I do like the water-colours of her era. Her husband, (see "mourning" above) was a differnet kettle of fish: a dashing young German with an eye for the main chance: he left a tiny Prussian principality and became Regent of a global Empire. He was gifted and oversaw the rebuilding of the burned out House of Commons giving us the magnificence of the Charles Barry-Augustus Welby Pugin edifice that graces the north bank of the Thames at Westminster. His is the Albert Hall and the Albert Memorial; and the modern British army was dressed, drilled and structured according to his master plan. What a dude! If he hadn't died so young, more would have been done and she might have cheered up a bit. Anyway, there's a film I am looking forward to which traces Grumpies early years in His company - Lucy, more of a Young Bardot than a Young Victoria, guides us through it on the red carpet. Victoria would have even had that turned black, so how lucky are.
Rick Astley still is and is in the studio to tell us about his 80's tour - not reminiscing about something that happened thirty years ago but enthusing about what will be happening shortly to rekindle a love for the music of those days.
We've also all the news thats fit to print - or broadcast - including the seriously sad tale of the young psychopath who warned everyone he was a killer and whose mum passed on those worries - all too late for his first four victims. It is a sad, sad story.
As is Chrissie's weather, through no fault of hers.
The papers and that's it.
The Oz made the tea run and got me a chocolate biscuit. If I smile even more tonight it is in gratitude to this elegant and thoughtful co-worker I am blessed to share our sofa with. No cash, though, in our sofa. I caught her checking yesterday. Unless that is where my chocky biscuit came from.....?
See you at 6 unless salmonella kicks in.
Alastair abnd Alex