We public schoolboys need a good beating

On the assumption that my wife, a woman of impeccable taste, will stick to her habit of never reading a word I write, it must be confided that this week I fell in love. Perhaps this puts it too strongly. It may be nothing more than a transient man-crush. Anyway, call it what you will, I am besotted with Michael Gove.

Govey caused the heart to flip with what must constitute the most radical speech an education secretary has given since the late Sixties, when Tony Crosland returned from a dinner with educationalists to inform his wife Susan: “If it’s the last thing I ever do, I’m going to destroy every f—ing grammar school in England.”

Govey’s address needs no dashes. Then again, you can hardly eff and blind when addressing a leading independent school such as Brighton College. Not unless you happen to be a war hero like Douglas Bader, who reputedly treated the girls of Roedean or Cheltenham Ladies’ College (the uncertainty hints at urban myth, but we’ll let that pass) to a story of airborne derring-do in which one Fokker appeared on his tail, another Fokker attacked him from above… and so on, until the headmistress tried to staunch the pubescent giggling with: “Gels, I should perhaps explain that the, ahem, Fokker was a Second World War German fighter plane.” “Madam, that may very well be,” so legend has Bader responding. “These buggers were in Messerschmitts.”

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