At the chalkface: Photo oops!

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Crash lives in a big estate. His father builds houses, which he’ll never afford. His mother’s an NHS nurse, soon to be sacked. His hobbies are being terrifically angry, kick-boxing, steam trains, and fishing in the toxic waters of the Grand Union Canal –

“All quiet, LK?”

“Yes, sir. Cool, sir.”

We’re under heavy manners from management to look good for the cameras. I’ve shaved close and they’ve scrubbed up. Amy and Gina have had highlights. We’ve had to cleanse the class of our more volatile and less telegenic scamps. Dave Mania, Decibelle and Shaka have been put on gardening leave.

But we can’t entirely excise the ugly truths of a Not Top 9th year. A few wild cards remain. Like LK. Like “Crash” Perkins. There he is at the back – his hair’s a Mohican, his tie’s ironic, his tattoos visible, and his English book quite bereft of work.

“Hold up sir!” yells LK.

“Sighting, sir. Roller! Dark winders! Coming our way!”

The waiting’s worse than for Ofsted. You hope the door handle doesn’t turn. It does – for the worse.

Enter a posse of politicians and paparazzi. Who they? Who know? They all look the same. Is that Sir Tristram of Hunt, Sir Michael of Ofsted, Sir Michael of Gove? Knights in suits in search of soundbites. Or could that be poor Ed? Wait a minute! Who’s the figure with the emollient, oleaginous visage? It can’t be, can it? Dave. Chameleon Dave. The prime minister.

And who’s that woman in tow? With those jolly Malory Towers eyes? She could well be a Minister of Education. We all stand up. Cameras whirr. I, a rabid socialist, essay a rictus smile. I usher our guests towards Cordelia Swansong and Fotherington Thomas. They are impeccable, charming. They address LK with either patrician courtesy or feudal condescension. The boy does good. We’re doing well. 

Then they approach Crash. “Crash” Perkins. This could go either way.

“And who are you?”

Who indeed? Crash lives in a big estate. His father builds houses, which he’ll never afford. His mother’s an NHS nurse, soon to be sacked. 

His hobbies are being terrifically angry, kick-boxing, steam trains, and fishing in the toxic waters of the Grand Union Canal – subjects, which aren’t, as yet, strictly core.

“Crash!” he replies. “And who are you, squire?” Oops! I smile at the buffoon.

“Get ‘im off my case then, sir!” 

Expletives occur. And a spin-doctor, who shrieks: “Cut!”

“Crash” Perkins is a vote loser, an ugly truth. This never happened. We don’t make the evening news.

  • Ian Whitwham is a former inner city London teacher.

 


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