We are informed today that al Qaeda had hatched a plan to gun down both Tony and Cherie Blair during the Queen’s golden jubilee celebrations a few years ago. Reader, I am ashamed to report that on hearing the news, my immediate reaction was to exclaim ‘Oh my God, poor Cherie!’. It’s not that I do not care about the safety of ole King Tone, but maybe I think he is big enough to take care of himself.
Other news. A young girl has been given an award by the Marine Society. This is interesting news, and I’ll tell you why. While on holiday in Phuket with her parents over Christmas, she observed the sea behaving rather strangely and recalled from a geography lesson that such signs adumbrated a tsunami. She raised the alarm, and was able, together with her parents and many other tourists, to escape the deluge. She received her award with good grace, crediting her geography teacher for imparting that knowledge to her in the first place.
According to the story, our hero is being educated at a private school. I could not help wondering what would have happened if she were instead a student at the local comp. My guess is that the tsunami death toll would probably have been higher. To make my point, here are sample questions from a recent GCSE examination:
In a Leisure and Tourism examination (yes, yes, there is such a thing), students were asked: ‘Other than Indian food, name one type of food provided by take-away restaurants.’ (3 marks).
Next question: ‘Describe what customers need to do to receive a delivery service from an Indian take-away restaurant.’
Here are some more questions from this intriguing subject:
Describe your own Saturday leisure activities and the time you spend on them (4 marks).
What is meant by a short-break holiday? (2 marks).
The Health and Social Care paper (heavens!) is equally obliging, requiring students to ‘identify two different family relationships’.
Also, according to examiners, three-quarters of the brightest GCSE students are unable to convert fractions to decimals.
Little wonder statistics indicate that the number of students electing for the ‘harder’ academic subjects (eg mathematics, physics) has fallen, as many students now prefer the ‘applied’ subjects, such as Leisure and Tourism (hear, hear) and Health and Social Care. A lot of fun, no doubt, but of no use in a tsunami situation.