From the flow of their conversation – or shrieking-match, to be more accurate – I gathered that the combatants were sisters, although when I risked a glance over my shoulder, I saw that they must have had different fathers, since one was white, the other of mixed race.
I’d say the white one, whose hair was pulled tightly back into a Croydon face-lift bun, was in her mid-thirties, while the other was in her late-twenties. But I may be wildly wrong. Enough to say that both faces bore the ravages of lives rough-lived, while their voices were indistinguishable, each sounding like Kathy Burke’s Waynetta Slob from the Harry Enfield Show.By the standards of MacHeath's example, this was quite a tame show, with only Mr Utley's ears & fragile nerves assaulted...
By the time we reached my stop, everyone in the train – those who could understand English, anyway – was aware that one of the sisters had a ‘boo-i-foo, innocent little boy, wot you don’t deserve’, while the speaker who had questioned her sister’s worthiness to be a mother was to be permanently denied access to her angelic nephew, from that moment on.Chavs. Don't we just love 'em?
As we rolled our eyes in mutual sympathy, two of the week’s news stories played over in my head. One was the advice offered to schoolgirls by the editor of the Tatler, Kate Reardon, that good manners are more important than good grades when it comes to forging a career.
The other was the warning from Professor David Metcalf, head of the Government’s Migration Advisory Committee, that the British school system’s betrayal of less academically inclined pupils is forcing employers to look overseas to fill low-skilled jobs. Too many school-leavers, he said, lack not only the rudiments of literacy and numeracy, but even the most basic skills to ‘look people in the eye and get out of bed’. As I listened to those shrieking harridans, I could understand all too well what both he and Ms Reardon meant.And here we see the difference between 'Mail' and 'Guardian' journalists - both may want to improve the lot of the benefit classes, but only one thinks that not changing their behaviour is perfectly OK.
Everyone accepts that grammar schools offer a brilliant start to clever children. But isn’t it also possible that separate schools, geared specifically to dinning the three Rs, basic manners and vocational skills into the unacademic, would serve the underclass far better than comprehensives?Who'd we find to teach in these schools, and what would we have to pay them..?!?