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Sarah has, I am afraid to report, an addiction. A dependency. A fix she needs more of now she has the taste for it. She can’t get enough qualifications. The postman brought her most recent one the other day – a Learning Outside the Classroom certification, and a badge she can hang on the farm gate. If she could she’d put her First Aider certificate there too, along with the Certification of Education something or other to do with Farms, her ‘O’ levels and her Brownie daisy chain making badge. Not to mention her Blue Peter badge and her Duke of Edinburgh award.

The local newspaper made much of this, and gave Sarah about half a page, including an unlikely picture of her sitting on a tractor, demonstrating that in this way she is profoundly qualified to teach anyone anything on the farm, including tractor mechanics. Since she doesn’t go near the pub, where all good conversation on tractors takes place, I am puzzled by this.

Anyway, I thought learning outside the classroom was sneaking off for a fag in the bike sheds, or exploring the underwear of the denizens of the nearest girl’s school but apparently not. She is now qualified to….well, I’m not entirely sure, but it’s something to do with swamping the place with schoolchildren next year, eager to get their hands dirty and learn about tree rings.

Any minute now I expect her to wear a gown and mortar board, and threaten me with the cane for stepping out of line. Now there’s a thought. Perhaps I should step out of line more often…

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