Girls gymnastics at the North London Collegiate School in 1882

Girls gymnastics at the North London Collegiate School in 1882. Image courtesy of I Dinsdale in ‘Illustrated London News’ 1882

Michael Gove is keen to get back to traditional teaching methods, in fact he’s been advocating his own vision of Victorian discipline since his days as a Times journalist. As the Tory party are so wanton to hark back to better days – Gove interviewed some of his Coalition colleagues to look for some anecdotal evidence of their educational back-story.

George Osborne:

As a beaming and bright-eyed undergraduate at Oxford I was certainly something of the mischief maker. One particular example springs to mind, I was out on the lash (that’s ‘bloke’ for getting squiffy) with The Bullingdon bulldozers. We were having our monthly-ironic-Chinese, and as Boris was gesticulating that he’d be rather fond of humping the waitress, I decided it would be damn bear perfect timing for me to throw my plate of duck at the bumbling owner. Like something out of Fawlty Towers! Well it was hilarious, the walls were covered in hoi-sin, I looked up, brazen as can be, and with the innocence of the original enfant terrible, squealed “it was like that when I got here” There was uproar, David grabbed me by the arm, sweet and sour dripping from his bulbous red face and tittered “Not bad George, not bad at all…..for an oik!” The place erupted, it was carnage. Now that might just seem like one hell of an after-dinner anecdote, but there are real political lessons to be learned here. The ‘it was like that when I got here’ mantra can be applied all over the political spectrum. We all know there was a worldwide banking crisis – duh! But by blaming Balls & co we are evoking one of the great childhood excuses and for that we deserve enough bloody credit.

Iain Duncan Smith

I was no different to any other youngster growing up in the 60’s. Lumpy porridge, the Beatles, Enoch Powell posters adoring the bedroom wall. One prominent memory stands out from my childhood, I was always an avid reader. Books were my sustenance, by that I don’t mean I used to nibble on paperbacks, no I was using a literary allusion. The first book I recall really making an impression on me was Oliver Twist. We studied it in class, and I must say many of my so-called peers (some of them have had horrendous ‘careers’) didn’t grasp what exactly Charles Dickens was trying to say in this glorious novel. For me, and for most correct minded people, it was a polemic against the big state and the culture of dependency that engulfs our nation today. When Twist so cavalierly ‘asked for more’ he was behaving in a way that is so common with today’s young. How I cheered when the decent and wise matriarch pointed out to the young layabout that he’d had enough, and if he wanted any “more” – maybe he should consider contributing to the state! There are certainly lessons to be learned here.

William Hague

As a proud Yorkshireman, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth, in fact if I had been, my dear Mother probably would have had a bloody big shock! *use this for after dinner speech*. No, I came from humble beginnings where you called a spade a spade and if the spade didn’t like that you’d jolly well knock it’s block off! *Use this as a gag next time Jonathan comes over*. I knew I had a gift for humour and mimicry from a young age. All the other boys would crowd around as I’d show off, prancing around doing impressions and generally being hugely entertaining. I often wonder, if the lure of Westminster hadn’t been so attractive, how I’d have fared as a comedian. Sure, I’d happily join in the banter on the Eight out of the Ten Cats – when Fifi goes to her bedroom I often imagine the cutting jibes I’d blow on Jimmy Carr….But yes, my childhood… It was the same as any other comedians’ – happy and loving. There are no regrets, I’m Foreign Secretary for Peter’s sake! And do I look at the chaps on Have I Got News For You and think I’d make a pretty terrific presenter? Well I’d have to be Tony Bliar to deny that! *text that to Boris* *actually don’t, he’s forever nicking my material* So, basically, the point is that I am a very witty man. There are some lessons for you, Gove!”

Written by Dan McCormick


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