Some friends home-school their three children and hats off to them. I was the sort of cruel, wicked mother who required hers to be out of the house for three full terms a year and could never have taught them round the kitchen table. They do it because their children are bright and have inquiring minds and were held back by the misplaced egalitarianism, poor intellectual diet and political diktats of their state schools. They are not socially isolated, as they enjoy a merry-go-round of sports and arts clubs and classes, but they are streets ahead in their learning and not subjected to a strident PC agenda that also regards the acquisition of pure knowledge as elitist, to be replaced by that of assorted ‘skills’. So they read with trepidation of a government threat to subject home-schooling to a new regulatory regime requiring strict compliance. In my leftie youth I marched to Aldermaston and to abolish capital punishment. I would do the latter again. I would march carrying a ‘Hands off home-schooling’ banner too.
An ancient Chinese sage (whom even Google cannot identify for me) said that there was nothing more delightful to watch than ‘two kittens playing in a bowl’. Five kittens playing in a wastepaper basket come close. We are rarely without puppies and kittens here, and this lot, Iolanthe’s children, were born in my wardrobe, where they remained tucked up with her for four weeks, at which point they realised that, though Narnia could not be reached from the back, an interesting world awaited them out front. When three kittens fell out of the wardrobe, I removed them and they rampaged in my bedroom, which was when they found the waste-paper basket and all climbed in. It rolled. They froze. But panic soon gave way to glee and they rolled about for the delightful half-hour I spent watching them.