A Conversation with Theresa May

The phone rang very early last Friday...

 

    ‘Hello?’

    ‘Laurence. It’s me. Theresa.’

    ‘Oh, hello, Tez. What’s up?’

    ‘I need your help again.’

    ‘What now?’

    ‘The conference is coming up in your neck of the woods. I can’t have another Brexit-is-Brexit cock-up. Everybody seemed to think when they woke up on June 24th the country would be cleared of all the people they didn’t like the look of….’

    ‘And instead they found we’re still being told to grow straight cucumbers by jobsworths in Brussels.’

    ‘Exactly. That must not happen with the Great Grammar School Revolution. We can’t have our voters gearing themselves up to move house, hire tutors and buy uniforms if the whole thing gets watered down to….water.’

    ‘OK. We’ll get to work on your metaphors later, but right now we’ve got to sort out….presentation.’

    ‘Do you always pause before the word….presentation?’

    ‘Always. Now, I was most impressed with Priti on Question Time last week. In fact, you could start by making her Minister for….Presentation.’

    ‘Noted.’

    ‘She suggested that so-called Grammar Schools could be just one strand in a whole range of options for parents moving forward. We should definitely run with this. We can have, in no particular order, Public Schools, Private Schools, Grammars, Academies, Free Schools, Comprehensives, Bog-Standard Comprehensives and Sink Schools. Then we can add a few of our own; Lycees, Gymnasien….’

    ‘What are they?’

    ‘Schools they have in France and Germany.’

    ‘Brexit, Laurence.’

    ‘OK. But you get the idea. Push the notion, however mad, that every kid has a perfect school waiting for him or her somewhere.’

    ‘Who wouldn’t vote for that?’

    ‘And try to muddy up this academic versus vocational thing. At the moment those words just mean Mr Chips/Ivy-covered walls/Sunlit playing-fields on the one hand and Colin Welland/Slag-heaps/council-estates on the other. Everyone knows the top schools produce Prime Ministers….’

    ‘Not any more.’

    ‘….senior civil servants, generals and the worse ones produce scroungers and drug-addicts. Change the way you label everything. Call the bottom ones Grade One and the Etons of this world Grade Twenty. Order the toffs to take a kid from Sod Lane Comp every year. In six months all this will be forgotten anyway and we’ll all go back to thinking that Professors of Medieval Italian Literature are somehow more valuable than plumbers.’

    ‘Are you sure this will work?’

    ‘Tez, we live in a country whose most revered inhabitants earn shedloads of cash for doing nothing but laughing and shrieking on the telly. Of course it’ll work.’

    ‘Laurence, once again, thanks for your help.’

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