Here’s why 400,000 kids can’t be wrong. Today we heard that the children who skip school, skip a month’s worth of school in their lifetime. A lot can happen in a month, especially if your mind is wandering.

Truancy has a bad name. But ever since we mastered the art of lateral thinking through not doing what we’re meant to be doing, we’ve produced better ideas. This theory holds true for every child who chooses to skive school. He or she will be castigated as a miscreant, yet if she or he can channel this counter-cultural instinct into the adult world, they stand a better chance of changing it, evolving it, transforming it.

Dropouts have led America forward for decades. And as we’re a little older than America, illogic follows that we should dropout a little younger if we want to defy the norm and confound expectations.

So, parents of Britain, before we ground every teenage child for bunking off, it’s worth understanding why they’re bunking off.Or, put another way, if we could give a month of free time to every child in the UK to do with what they like, what would you love your child to do?


Give them a month to galvanise their troops and unify their purpose. Then, they will march, in slippers, and purple rinses, every one of them at least two thirds of the way through their life.

Their sheer numbers will be uncontainable. The Police will anticipate passive resistance only to wilt under the onslaught of 18 million maniacal pensioners with fire irons held high. Their fearlessness will make the Arab Spring look like a village fete.

They will give their lives for the sake of their grandchildren, a mass suicide riot. The nation will mourn the loss of its elders as it once did in World War I & II. Memorials will outnumber lamp-posts in high streets across the country.

Laws will change. The youth will inherit the state, life expectancy will voluntarily drop and we’ll all recalibrate our lives in tune with the times.


Is there anything we don’t know about today’s budget?

No, I thought not.

So, let’s use the stage to entertain the great British public instead.

Today, ladies and gentlemen, George Osbourne is Sammy Davis Jr…and the song he’ll sing for us is….

(cut to George in skin tight pin strip suit, tilted cap and cane)

George: Mr Bojangles!

Take it away Georgie….


We’ve all been there, in a conversation with someone who’s not that happy in their own skin. The signs are sometimes visual, such as clothing that feels like it’s just landed on them temporarily, like a butterfly. Or hair, be if facial or orthodox, that looks scared of the head or jaw it’s been asked to clad.

Another telltale sign is the voice. Not so much the pitch or accent, but the words themselves that clamber out of the mouth like overgrown children held back too long by their mother. Words like ‘cessation’. Yes, I know it’s a noun and short and simple ‘cease’ won’t quite do, but ‘end’ will. Another one that stiffens the tongue and scars the ear is ‘normalcy’ and here’s one I heard the other day ‘equipoise’. There’s a bloated word for all this wasted effort, ‘grandiloquence’ or as Dr Suess might say ‘blather’.

I’m all for making reading energetic, but hearing, please no. Leave our ears alone.

Of course, there’s always a great gag gagging to say its piece on this topic, so here it is by Blaise Pascal from 1657:

“I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter.”


She went to bed and in her sleep, she cried. Not a sniffle, but a full blown bawl.

She woke laughing.

No-one will ever know why but speculation is a sweet and evil game.

Vote now for your most implausible reason:

  1. She had bipolar narcolepsy
  2. She dreamt of her brakes failing
  3. She counted raw onion slices to sleep
  4. She had a fear of waking up blind
  5. She was a she-wolf in all but her body
  6. She was allergic to REM
  7. She did it to unhinge her husband who longed to be with another man
  8. Your suggestion here:


By the time your child leaves school they will be of a kind. Not one of a kind, but all of a kind. An intensively farmed, educationally-modified teenager. How does that feel? Hardly fills the soul with fire.

This chilling prediction conjures up an image of one of the free-thinking nations on earth being a North Korea mk II within a generation. There is no single reason, but there is a single cause and they know who they are.

Rebranding learning to be a production line of identi-kids might look good on a governmental spread sheet, but for each individual child, it sucks. What we need to do is unleash the idiosyncratic gene in each young pupil, so that she/he comes out of the system feeling like a person, not a product. A person is a glorious complex mix of flaws and virtues. We are drawn into books and films by a character’s flaws, yet in the world of employment, we run a mile from the curveball with the tick.

If the entire point of school was to find the genius in residence in each child, we’d nurture the next wave of game-changers who defy logic and wreck conventions, sometimes without even meaning to.

We could do worse than look at the world of finance, where risk went nuts and brought the house of cards down. What if we took that cavalier deregulated attitude with education and let the teachers run amok instead of over-assessing their every breath? What if we treated teachers as artists and gave them carte blanche to experiment with our children. It might fill you with fear or it might be just the bolt of lightning your son or daughter needs right now. It depends how they’re currently ‘performing’. And conversely, if we scrutinised the banks as acutely as we do the schools, we might start to see an uplift in their results.

As Pink Floyd almost once sang: ‘Hey Ofsted…leave the teachers alone.’


We’ve all lived in superstitious fear of Friday 13th for way too long and we have Dan Brown to thank for throwing paraffin on the unlucky fire. It’s a curse, if you believe in curses.

But the world is awash with curses right now. The curse of money. The curse of climate. The curse of cancer. The curse of fame. You can’t make it through the day without some curse tripping us up.

So, how about we herald a day + date to summon up good luck?

Wednesday 14th sounds good enough to me.

It will be statistically proven one day that you are more likely to find a fiver down the sofa, fall in love and catch a fish on Wednesday 14th. So people, let it reign fortune and good times from the heavens and fend off the normal crap that plagues our day. Yes, let us quietly worship this date, Wednesday 14th.

And as luck would have it, there’s one coming up this week, in March 2012. So here’s to you on your lucky day.


Tony Nicklinson has spoken more sense today than we’ve heard in our lifetimes. Tony has locked-in syndrome and could overturn the most complex moral question that has ever faced our civilised species.

All he asks is for is the right to die.

This should be simple.

What makes it so difficult is the role of the doctor who allows him to die whilst being responsible for his life. As the law stands, the doctor will murder him, albeit with the consent of his patient.

So, how does this differ from soldiers at war who are medalled for killing the apparent enemy, or in the case of Saturday’s massacre, 16 Afghan civilians who are technically on the same side?

Which begs the question, whose side are the doctors on? The Patient or The Law?

Which begs the question, why aren’t The Patient and The Law on the same side?

Which begs the question, why have sides?


Darwin, eat your heart out.

Some species cannot be phased out, no matter how hard we try.

I washed some heavily gruted clothes yesterday and there, in among the spun rags was a ladybird, dead to the world. Or so I thought.

Give him a minute or eight.

Then he must have said to himself ‘that was some storm’, only to unfurl himself and crawl across the kitchen table, even flexing his wings for good measure.

Which brings to mind what other animal could have survived a wash cycle at 60 degrees at 1300rpm?

The poodle who once lived through a 30 second zap in a microwave…no. The worm you guillotined in two with a garden spade…double no. The one four-limbed mammal who sometimes chooses not to learn to swim…triple no.  The cat with nine lives…maybe, just maybe.