Yet another imaginary meeting at Number Ten
Righto lads and lasses lets have a bit
of shush the PM's on his way over.
I hope you wallys have got your stories straight after what I
heard on Radio 4 last week!
You know whom I'm talking about so it's no use peering round
the room pretending to look for the biscuits.
And I hope the pillock that was on BBC2 has a good excuse for
what he was babbling about in case the PM didn't go to bed early
Just because you've been on that night school course on public
speaking doesn't mean you were any better than when you started
it. I know you wore a false beard and bushy moustache but I saw
you when I was coming out of the room opposite. Ooops I didn't
mean to say that.
"You mean the course on "Arithmetic
for the Artisan" every other Tuesday, deputy PM? I didn't
"Well in that case I wasn't there
old man was I ?"
"Well if I didn't see you Deputy
PM you couldn't have been I suppose".
"Righto let's leave it there.
Neither of us was there".
Slow heavy plodding outside and the
cabinet room door creaks open.
A grey figure slumps into the chair at the end of the table.
"Coffee and a chocolate digestive
Deputy PM. Quickly".
Rattling of cups followed by sound of
"There you go PM. Get that down
Shall we call it a day PM you don't want to get any more upset
"Certainly not Deputy PM, I didn't
run all the way over here to turn round and go back without sorting
out this weeks debacle".
"Where have you been PM?"
"Over at the Ministry of Defence
sorting out the wording for the adverts for those newly modified
"You mean the one's that don't
"I didn't say that did I?
No gun will work if you stuff sand up its barrel?
Anyway I think we've cracked it.
Two birds with one stone.
We're selling the things to rebels in Africa next week".
"What do you mean PM, "Two
birds with one stone?"
"Well we want to bring an end to
all this business of people shooting each other in Africa and
selling them super-looking guns that don't work will put an end
to it won't it?"
Only a man of genius would think of that.
Who was it PM?"
"Well I don't want to brag Deputy
"Can we go now PM?"
"No you can't get away like that
Deputy PM, I'm sure I came here today to give someone a good
Hang on while I think a minute."
Sound of digestive biscuit being crunched.
"I remember now.
My lad's GCSE results.
He didn't do well enough so I hatched a little plan to get his
marks improved but it all seemed to go wrong.
Stand up Minister for Education and whatnot."
"Yes PM what is it ?"
"Explain yourself young lady.
Surely it was only a matter of a little snowpake and biro'ing
in a few A's here and there."
"Well it's not that easy PM. I
just can't go rummaging around. It would have taken ages to find
the right papers, even if I knew where to look."
"I thought you were in charge young
All you have to do is to pick up the phone and say you're doing
a random sample of checking results, ask for my lad's papers,
and Bob's your uncle, they land on your desk.
Out with the snopake and send them back.
"Well there's the computers PM
and the Gaussian distribution and the Sliding Factors and this
years Directives and a whole host of fiddle factors. The actual
mark on the paper is totally irrelevant.
Just because it says "A" it doesn't really mean "A"
it could mean "U".
"Good heavens Secretary of State
for Education and whatnots I didn't realise that things had got
"Well it was the previous administration's
The rules were so complicated no-one could understand them so
we just left them alone."
"You mean the other lot are to
"Well not entirely PM because we
also had to sort out the marks so we have to put the figures
through our computers as well."
"OK so it shouldn't be that complicated.
Just type in my lad's name and change the marks."
"I wish I could PM but there's
this years Directives as well.
They're not on the computer yet.
We have to take a random sample from each heap of papers and
make the mark more accurate."
"How do you do that?"
"Well there's a committee, all
sworn to absolute secrecy of course PM.
They have a table of marks and they just snopake out the mark
on the exam paper and biro-in a new mark according to the table.
Then the papers are sent back to the computer operators who type
in the more accurate marks."
"Where do the tables come from?"
"Well we have another committee
that draws up the tables PM."
"How do they do this?"
"Well you know how we have these
league tables that allow parents to choose the best school for
their little darlings?"
"Of course, I dreamt them up after
going on that course for "How to Measure the Performance
of absolutely anything"."
"Well the trouble is PM is that
everyone wants to send their kids to the same schools and I get
loads of complaining letters from mums and dads, that don't get
their first choice, saying they are made to send the kids to
"Well PM we have this jolly good
scheme now were we feed into the computer the numbers of requests
for all the schools. The computer then tells us how to make the
GCSE marks balance out the school performance with the popularity
That way parents will send their kids to schools that are really
rubbish but actually get quite high in the league tables.
Clever wheeze eh PM?"
"So the marks for papers from the
best schools that produce all A's have to be made more accurate
by changing them to B's?"
"Well that was the theory PM.
Then we could always say that little Johnny wasn't feeling so
good on the day of the exam and slipped slightly from an "A"
to a "B"."
"So what went wrong?"
"Well you know it's always a bit
of a rush to get things done in time?"
"Well the first computer system
That's the one we have to use for the other lot's processing.
It still uses Windows 95 and it's a bit hit and miss whether
it gets things done without going wrong.
Then there's the one we use for our processing.
That uses Windows 98 and it kept freezing.
It turned out that the night security man had loaded a new computer
game on it and it affected our special program.
Anyway by the time we got round to producing the special table
we didn't have long enough to check things and it seems the table
got printed out wrong.
The "accurate result list" printed upside down and
we didn't notice until half the marks had been processed and
lots of "A's" got marked as "U's"."
"Go on.. don't tell me!
I suppose you're going say my lad's results were made more accurate
from the upside down table!"
"Sorry PM. It won't happen again."
"You absolute pillock Secretary
of State for Education and whatnots!
Sort something out by lunchtime tomorrow."
"Pass the biscuits Deputy PM and
tell everyone to clear off.
I'm really upset."
.You'll know the truth by now;
25th September 2002; the day before the sanitized version was
supposed to be published
I wonder how many heads will roll?