“Oh do tell us, Imre, what’s she like.”

The fawning few surrounded our principal like autograph hunters at a sporting event.

“Yes, Imre,” said the staff cynic, “tell us why you were favoured so.”

Dear Leader appeared to withdraw inside his skull, so inward was his gaze.

“I did but see her riding by,” he finally said. “In a government car,” he appended.

“So you didn’t actually get to speak to her.” The disappointment was as palpable as the barely camouflaged body odour on these unseasonal days of summer heat.

“Our questions were — ” and here Imre searched for the correct word as if he were patting his pockets for a light, “Well, they were vetted.”

“I expect your contribution was too revolutionary, comrade,” the staff cynic declared and somewhere at the back of the common room there was a nasty chuckle.

“I had planned to ask the minister about the proposed reforms to the national curriculum,” Dear Leader huffed.

“You knew the answer already,” said Delia Le Clezio (The Lezzie to the sports staff). “More work and less time to do it in.”

Kevorkian drew himself up in a managerial sort of way. Fraternising with the staff was not something that necessarily came naturally to him. “I think that’s a bit harsh,” he said defensively. “Besides, the minister has promised to look into the parenting issue.”

“Ho yes,” the staff cynic snorted.

“Oh shut up, Barry,” one of the more assertive English teachers said.

Heartened, our principal visibly expanded. “Yes, I’d say that the minister has processed the statistics and seen where the canker gnaws.”

“Yes,” breathed a mathematician of the absent-minded variety (owl specs, shirt mis-buttoned), “If only we could get the parents to parent.”

“So what was the highlight?” the assertive English teacher asked in that over-bright manner of teachers who forget that it is not always children to whom they are speaking. “One hundred and fifty principals from all over the country. You must have felt that you were at the centre of things.”

“Yes, Imre, how does it feel to be a policy wallah?”

“Well,” Dear Leader said after some consideration, “they did a very acceptable schnitzel at the hotel where we stayed.”

“Really?” said the cynic, “Then you simply must tell us what you had for dessert.”

“A sort of compote involving a very large orange,” Kevorkian suddenly remembered the peculiar detail.

“I think,” said The Lezzie with withering solicitude, “you will find that was a grapefruit.”

From the look of enlightenment and sheer joy on Dear Leader”s face, we knew that the taxpayer’s dollar had been well-spent.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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