Boris Hampton: Diary of a Wellington insider

Tuesday 22 September 2009

To the Ministry of Education for a working group to discuss a new health and safety initiative in schools. There has been growing concern in the ministry about children walking on the cracks in the pavements.

According to some research, it causes anyone who does it to marry a rat, later in life. Another school of thought says that if you stand on a crack, you’ll break your back. Another further stream of work indicates that a pupil who stands on a line will marry a porcupine.

The Ministry has commissioned several work-streams on this. They have discovered that there is a higher degree of crack-walking among the decile one to four schools. This has them both worried but gratified.

They are also worried about whether crack-walking fits within the Treaty of Waitangi.

And passive crack walking opens up a whole new area of work.

I ask whether this work fits with the Minister’s priorities for education. But everyone just sniggers.

 

Thursday 24 September

Perfect. It is wonderful when a confluence of different things all flow together, seamlessly, like a kind of seamless seam of coal.

The scheme to take coal out of the soil in Southland, export some of it, and put the rest on dairy farms, is one of those beautiful, never to be missed opportunities.

Obviously the first is it is not a bad commercial opportunity.

Politically though it is even more beautiful. Firstly, it combines coal and dairying, the two things the greenies hate more than anything in the world, except perhaps George W Bush. Putting them together will make them turn purple and fizz. And I have suggested George W Bush be approached to serve on the board of a separate company, but Don Elder, head of Solid Energy, thinks this is over egging the pudding a bit.

Thirdly it should get Bill English out of a bit of a jam. He’s under some strife in his home electorate, and it is nothing to do with his living arrangements. It’s about roads. Bill cut the roading Budget for his home region by $40 million, and gave it to Aucklanders. You can imagine how that’s gone over. Its a bit like the greenies and the coal and dairying.

This new project is going to put a lot of new trucks on Southlands roads. Its beautiful face-saver – Bill can put the money back.

 

Friday 25 September 2009.

End of term Sports Day at the younger boy’s primary school. These are not what they used to be. The 100 metres dash is now non-competitive, so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings.

The participants all gather in a Group Hug at one end of the track; when the signal is given they all shuffle together down to the other end of the track. When they get there they all cheer each other. Organic pineapple lumps are handed round.

“This is political correctness gone mad!” I mutter, among a group of parents and teachers on the side of the track. I got a fierce glare from one of the teachers. “Political correctness gone differently-abled,” she told me. “Please.”

I was later told they’d had a 400 metres event using this method for the older kids, but it was canned on health and safety grounds. It took ages to do and by then the kids in the middle were in the early stages of asphyxiation or heat exhaustion. (or, in the cases of some of the early developers, extreme arousal).

I am about to deliver a cutting rejoinder to the teacher behind me but somebody finds a peanut and the entire school is evacuated.


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