Boys need men to teach them to be really silly

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A FRIEND of mine has decided that his vocation in life is to be a primary school teacher, and after working in a primary school for the last year on a voluntary basis, has enrolled in teacher training college for this September. Since he is male, this is considered to be out of the ordinary.

Why don't men become primary teachers? Partly, I suppose, because the pay is so insulting; but then it is for all teachers, as the state seems to consider the manufacture of adults less important than the manufacture of just about anything else. But I'm sure there's a social side to it too. It's considered a bit of a soppy job for a bloke. Perhaps, more sensibly, there's a general feeling that little children leaving their mothers for the first time will be most receptive to mother substitutes as teachers.

While nearly all children live with their mothers, an increasing number don't live with their fathers; indeed, don't have any male role model at all. Little boys are different from little girls, tend to develop more slowly, and are generally more stupid than their sisters. All children try to manipulate their parents, but their tactics are different, and women seem better able to cope with the tactics of girls than of boys. Men seem to relate to boys better, sharing their interests in whizzing about and football and car-cars and other moronic activities.

But more and more women have walked out on or have no man, or have rotten men who are too lazy to take an interest in their children, and their little boys learn that they can get their own ways by being manipulative. A happy child needs the security of love and limits. When I was three I knew that the grass was green and the sky was blue and that bedtime was when the sky went black and I was happy. I know many children today who know that the grass is green and that the sky is blue and that bedtime depends on the size of their temper tantrum and they are unhappy.

In the case of little boys to whom this applies, my feeling is that when they arrive at school and see a woman teacher, they think they can manipulate her as they do their mother. Because of the pressure the poor teacher is under, they often can. So they get off to a bad start, school becomes the enemy, and the system has no means of addressing the problem. They become and stay disruptive. If there were more male teachers at the first stages of education, many of these little boys might have the chance to meet the first decent male role model of their lives, they might get the limits they want and need, and there might be some hope for them.

My eldest stepdaughter, who has never lived with her father, says that she had a male primary teacher for a while, and absolutely loved him. My youngest stepchild, a boy, aged eight, has always loathed school, and has suffered from behavioural difficulties. He now has a male teacher for the first time and says lessons are "brilliant".

WE HAVE just got a new car. It's a nice car and it's colour is Epsom. If I'd wanted I could have had the same car in Carrigada or Avalon, or, if I was feeling gloomy, Niagra, or, if I was feeling flash, Montpelier. Why do all car colours have such silly names? It's the same with wall paints. It's a good game to play if you are dull, like me. Get a Dulux wall chart, read out the names and see if your partner can guess the colours. My favourites are from the National Trust Tango, which include Drab and Dead Salmon. When I was writing a series a couple of years ago we spent a highly enjoyable hour thinking up stupid paint names for Mr Don't-Wanna- Do-That to tell his son-in-law to use. We ended up with "Misty Buff", "Oak Funnel", "Mint Sunrise", and "Wormly Spruce". A couple of weeks later we used the same names for racehorses. Who invents these stupid names? Is there a stupid name training college somewhere? My guess is that it is people who've been given stupid names themselves by their parents exacting their revenge on society. There was a family I knew at school whose parents named their children Jason, Seymore, Saffron, Tiffany and Finale. Perhaps they are all now happily employed in the stupid name departments of Britain's leading car and paint manufacturers.