One of the reasons we’re keen to come back to the UK is so that the children can enjoy a British education. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the schools in Dubai, but since living abroad we seem to have developed a patriotic crush on all things British, and are now dead set on educating the children here.
And no, we’re not talking private education. The arrival of twins put paid to that great plan. With one child it was doable, with two, a stretch; but with three of them and two in the same year? No chance.
For the past 6 months I’ve been swotting up on which locations offer us the best state schools. Friends have been amused to see my homework on the subject, which consists of an AA road atlas covered in dozens of tiny yellow dot stickers identifying hot spots for free education in Britain.
Once I’d identified a secondary school hotspot, then I was off on a mission to find a complementary primary. It was a time-consuming process.
Yellow dots were joined by spotty dots and then when I felt I’d identified a prime location, it was crowned with that ultimate accolade. A shiny star sticker.
But today I have encountered a problem. An issue that is niggling me and making me doubt all my good work. Could it be that all my extensive research has gone to waste?
The reason for my doubts?
Glen in Harry Ramsden’s.
I’m not sure if he is actually called Glen but I think it suits him. Glen is around 24 years old with spiky, greasy hair. I suppose working in Harry Ramsden’s means a far greater propensity towards grease. All that hot fat and the need to flick back his fringe at regular intervals.
Anyway, I’m going to make an assumption that Glen was schooled in Britain. Yes it is possible that he was outsourced to a Swiss academy of excellence but I’m going to place my money on the fact that his education took place in Swindon.
Yes, I’m sorry. Swindon again. The hell hole with the mini roundabouts for those with a short attention span.
The children, my parents and I were in Swindon for the day, and for reasons that are too painful to go into we ended up in Harry Ramsden’s.
Now you’ll just have to trust me that the words, ‘my mother’, ‘Harry Ramsden’s’ and ‘Swindon’, are not a natural fit. I’m not sure what further explanation I can give except to say that this is the woman who once made me go into a branch of Iceland and ask if they stocked Poussin. I rest my case.
My father and I volunteered to go and place our order whilst my mother watched the troops. By the time Glen got to us, we were all ready with our request and happily ordered Harry’s finest.
It took a while to assemble all the various elements of our order, but as the trays of food were passed to us, it was obvious we were missing one vital component.
“Could we have some cutlery please?”, asked my father, very politely.
Blank look from Glen.
“Some cutlery please?”, he said again a little louder.
Still nothing registering with Glen.
By now my father was speaking at the same volume that I use when calling my son in from the far end of the garden. And you need to remember, we live damn close to the Dubai Airport flight path.
“SOME CUTLERY?”, he bellowed.
And then it dawned on me. Glen wasn’t deaf. He was stupid.
“Could we have some knives and forks please?”, I asked.
“Sure”, said Glen and duly provided a stash of plastic utensils.
He wasn’t being rude, or unhelpful. He just had no idea what the word ‘cutlery’ meant.
So here’s the concern. Should I really be placing so much faith in the British education system.
It’s a worry.