At the chalkface: Welcome to Dom’s world

Written by: Ian Whitwham | Published:

Dominic Cummings is holding sway – and Mr Watermelon Piccaninny Letter Box has stormed it. Dear me, couldn’t we even beat this lot of chancers? Well, no.

Do you remember the election?

My goodness. I’m still in shock. Nay, trauma.

My country seems to have done a bunk and left the likes of me behind. I feel an exile in my own land.

How’s the new dawn shaping up under the new dispensation? Now that Britannia has been Unleashed, English Nationalism let loose?

Dominic Cummings is holding sway – and Mr Watermelon Piccaninny Letter Box has stormed it. Dear me, couldn’t we even beat this lot of chancers? Well, no.

And I wasn’t surprised by the catastrophe. I campaigned for the Labour Pain through a gauntlet of abuse, insult, threat, rage and dead-eyed nihilism. Things I thought I believed in, the usual Labour orthodoxies – decency, kindness, sharing, good hospitals, proper schools and a little light socialism, that sort of thing, were much mocked. Quite trashed. The liberal left position seemed in tatters.

What’s more, my teacher chums knew our number was up. Their pupils knew too.

“That Beardy. He’s a bit of a donut!”

Cruel, but correct. I’m afraid the Dear Leader looked increasingly like the proverbial cover teacher conducting pandemonium in the classroom, humourless, ineffectual, peripheral, cancelled. Mr Donut wasn’t an easy sell on the doorstep. He reminded me of the grim Militant teacher who, rabid with iron certainties, wrecked things in the 70s. And, yes, Corbyn was mercilessly traduced by the media, but any fule knew he didn’t have the right stuff.

Except, of course, my chums in the dread London Metropolitan Elite, locked in a Guardian echo chamber. They still didn’t appear to get it.

So the Exit Poll was pure melodrama. Trauma. You had to look away from the lachrymose profanity, the shocked anguish, the distraught blubbing into the smashed avocado, as they glugged ravenously and weeping on the Merlot, pronouncing their affluent Farrow and Ball lives, liberal democracy and the universe as they knew it “quite ruined”. They could well be right.

So... whither now? For the nation? For teachers? For education? For schools? Who knows? It’s not looking good.
Is childhood going to get more Victorian? Are ever more vicious distractions going to prey on our pupils? Is the divide between rich and poor, public and state, going to get ever bigger? Should the Labour party go left, right, centrist, split or just quietly die? Should I have to endure another Polly Toynbee Guardian column?

I consult Dominic Cumming’s blog. What does the woolly beanied, elfin-visaged one want? Only “weirdos and misfits” as advisors for No 10.

“No more Oxbridge English graduates who chat about Lacan at dinner parties.” Yep. I’ve suffered them.

“No more confident public school bluffers.” Yep.

“Only true wild cards, artists.” Yep.

“People who fought their way out of an appalling hellhole.” Why not?

Whatever. I just don’t know anymore. It’s Dom’s world now.

  • Ian Whitwham is a teacher of English, now retired, who spent many years working in the state school system of inner city London. He has written for SecEd since 2003. Read his most recent articles at


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