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Notes from Lapta, Cyprus – Rules is Rules! by Ken Dunn

I sometimes feel that the relentless flow of ‘advice’, ‘regulations’, ‘guidance’ and ‘statutes’ being issued from Government departments, British or European, are inflicting a ridiculous level of attempted control over all of us when straightforward, bog-standard, commonsense would be better observed. There’s hardly a week goes by where something else arrives to contain, warn, confuse, contradict or just irritate many of us. I offer you here three examples. The first is plainly satirical. The second apocryphal but the third is absolutely true!

1. The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiation, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and accepted a 5 year phase-in plan that would be known as “Euro-English.”

In the first year, “s” will replace the soft “c”. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy.

The hard “c” will be dropped in favour of “k”. This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the second year when the troublesome “ph” will be replaced with “f”. This will make words like “fotograf” 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expected to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

Governments will encourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent “e” in the language is disgrasful and it should go away.

By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing “th” with “z” and “w” with “v”.

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary “o” kan be dropd from vords containing “ou” and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensibl riten styl.

Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.

2.  A new priest at his first mass was so nervous he could hardly speak. After mass he asked the monsignor how he had done.

The monsignor replied, ‘When I am worried about getting nervous in the pulpit, I put a glass of vodka next to the water carafe. If I start to get nervous, I take a sip.’

So, next Sunday he took the monsignor’s advice. At the beginning of his sermon he became rather nervous and so took a drink. He proceeded to ‘talk up a storm.’

Upon his return to his office after the mass he found the following note which had been slipped under the door.

Sip the vodka, don’t gulp it down.

There are 10 commandments, not 12.

There were 12 disciples, not 10.

Jesus was consecrated, not constipated.

Jacob wagered his donkey. He did not, ‘Bet his ass.’

We do not refer to Jesus Christ as, ‘the late JC.’

The father, Son and Holy Ghost should not be referred to as, ‘Daddy, Junior and the Spook.’

David slew Goliath. He did not, ‘Kick the shit out of him.’

When David was hit by a rock and was knocked off his donkey, don’t say, ‘He was stoned off his ass.’

We do not refer to the cross as, ‘The Big T.’

When Jesus broke the bread at the last supper he said, ‘Take this and eat for it is my body.’ He did not say, ‘Eat me.’

The Virgin Mary is not called, ‘Mary with the Cherry.’

The recommended grace before a meal is not, ‘Rub-A-Dub-Dub, thanks for the Grub, Yeah, God!’

Next Sunday there will be a taffy-pulling contest at St Peter’s. Not a ‘Peter pulling contest at St Taffy’s!’

3. In an earlier existence I taught in an independent school for just over ten years. Every single year the Government changed the rules for the curriculum so that teaching became more of a, ‘What the hell are we doing this time around?’ kind of thing. My subject was ‘Design and Technology’. This was a kind of ‘jumped up’ version of the combination of Woodwork, Metalwork and Technical Drawing – for those of you who may remember those subjects.

Anyway, changes in the curriculum were bad enough but that also coincided with recommendations, which came ‘from above’, regarding examination marking schemes. Marking schemes are very precise documents which purport to help a teacher to mark cousework as accurately as possible. Subjectivity was frowned on and ‘black and white’ objectivity was required, hence the marking schemes which gave highly detailed instructions of how a candidate’s work should be assessed.

Now, there are marking schemes and there marking schemes. 1995 will surely be remembered forever for a Design and Technology marking scheme which, to paraphrase an earlier and famous statement of injustice, namely the bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1942, was, ‘An act which will go down as infamy!’ Thankfully this marking scheme was dropped for reasons which you will see are perfectly obvious.

The following is a summary of a much longer document which all teachers had to follow. Here is that sumary without ‘hesitation, deviation or repitition.’ The only ‘manipulation’ I have made is to add capital letters to emphasise the true nature of how the educational authorities minds were working at that time, if at all!


Coursework for this examination is assessed in FOUR parts, each part providing a separate mark. The FIRST MARK of the four is to be multiplied by a factor of TWO and then again by a factor of THREE to provide a mark for this first part. The SECOND INITIAL MARK is then multiplied by TWO and then FIVE to give the second mark for the second part.

The THIRD PART is divided into TWO DISTINCT AREAS, each of which is given a mark, ADDED TOGETHER, multiplied by EIGHT to give a mark for the third part.

Then the mark from the FOURTH PART is then multiplied by TWO and then again by FOUR which gives the last part its mark.

ALL OF THESE ARE THEN ADDED TOGETHER and that final sum is REDUCED to a PERCENTAGE OF TEN to give the final mark for all the coursework. This final result is then given ANOTHER mark, up to a maximum of six, for spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Can you imagine having to go through all that with one candidate’s coursework never mind the rest, sometimes over a hundred, who were taking the subject. But then, where would we all be without rules?

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