Saturday, 26 September 2009


It came to my attention that the Home Ed brigade has been organising picnic events. Surely this demonstrates beyond doubt the devious methods these people will stoop to. Apparently the idea was to prove that home educated children are not hidden. What it actually proved was that home educated children are playing in the park when they should be hard at work in a classroom. No doubt this is dressed up as autonomous education. I tried to explain this to Smith, but as usual the man lacks the ability to understand (none so blind as those who will not see, I always say!)

“What is your problem with autonomous education?” he asked.

“Let me put it this way; if I said I was going to visit an autonomous dentist how would you react” 

He muttered something I couldn’t quite catch, but seemed to involve selling tickets, which doesn’t make sense. Anyway, he mentioned one of these ridiculous picnic things was taking place in the local park, so I decided to attend. 

As I put the finishing touches to my disguise, my wife studied me with the air of someone singularly unimpressed. 

“You look ridiculous.” 

“Then I should fit in with the rest of them.” 

“Must you wear the hood of your anorak zipped up like that?” 

“I need to remain incognito.” 

“You could try a false beard,” she said brightly while I favoured her with my best withering look. “Anyway, it’s an Indian Summer.” 

“Your point being…?” 

“My point being its 73 degrees and you are wearing an anorak with fur around the hood.” 

I gave this some thought and had to concede the issue. I didn’t want to arouse suspicion, so I changed my trousers for shorts and wore sandals over my Mr Happy socks. I was quite pleased with the effect when I studied my reflection, although my wife was making a stifled honking noise. 

I decided that my car might give the game away so waited at the bus stop. I fumbled for my wallet as I heard a large diesel engine approaching, but when I looked up I discovered it wasn’t the bus, but the arrival of the hospital Dial-a-Ride Transit. As old Mrs Mort was ceremoniously helped down from the back, I waved enthusiastically and called to her. 

She stopped in her tracks and peered worriedly in my direction. I have to admit, that a mouthful of fur from the hood of my anorak was preventing coherent speech and it wouldn’t have been immediately apparent who I was. 

“Mmmmrs Mmmmorthhh,” I called. “It’sth meeeth!” 

She took a hesitant step back towards the Transit and her mouth began forming that familiar wobbly “O” shape. I managed to spit out the fur and in desperation shouted out, “Look! Look here!” as I pulled down the zip on my anorak and pulled it open. 

At that precise second the bus arrived and I nipped on board rather sharply. As it pulled away a moment or so later two Dial-a-Ride volunteers were trying to retrieve their hysterical passenger. I must say she can wriggle under the rear axle of a Transit van extremely quickly for someone with a double hip replacement. 

The bus driver eyed me suspiciously as I took my seat near the door and re-zipped my anorak. I suppose this is the sort of thing home edders must get used to. 

When I arrived at the park, it didn’t take long to locate a disorganised clamour of people around the far end of the lake. I surreptitiously made my way over to them and proceeded to mingle and observe. Two teenage lads noticed me however and one of them pointed to my zipped up hood. 

“Oi, Kenny!” one of them shouted, having clearly mistaken me for someone else. I turned abruptly away and strolled over to a picnic table covered with food. 

There was a frothy haired woman sitting in a deckchair behind the table. “Isn’t this wonderful?” she smiled. 

“It seems to be quite well attended,” I responded neutrally. “Lots of home educated children. Of course it’s a bit hard to judge the negative effects when they’re running about happily.” 

“This is my son, Justin,” she continued, indicating a tousled individual beside her. “He’s 14 now and I’ve been home-edding since he was 8.” 

“Good God! He’s missed six years!” 

“Pardon me?” 

“…I…ah… Good, good, he’s missed six years of… of… tyranny and oppression…” I concluded weakly while she stared at me. I felt something more was called for, so raised my fist in a shoulder high salute. “Yaaayyy!” I whispered in a small little voice. 

“Aren’t you terribly hot in that anorak hood?” 

“No, no – I need to keep warm. Prevents the shivering.” 


“Touch of malaria…days in the tropics,” I said vaguely. 

“But you’re wearing shorts and sandals.” 

Recurrent malaria…it comes and goes…” I coughed. I don’t really know why, the situation seemed to call for it. 

“I’m Joyce,” she said after a moment and extended her hand. 

I shook it quickly, hurriedly breaking contact. 

“…I didn’t catch your name,” she said. 

“I’m Graham Badman.” 


“No, no, no…. of course I’m not. No that would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it? Ha! Graham Badman at a Home Ed Picnic? Can you imagine that? No, that was obviously a joke! I’m… umm….” My mind had gone totally blank. In panic and I looked around the table for inspiration. There was a wasp buzzing around an iced cake. Could I say I was Graham Wasp? No… I noticed an ant crawling on the table, heading for the same cake. I nodded my anorak hood at the table. “Ant on…” 

“Anton! You’ll never guess, that was the other name we considered when we named Justin! I’m very pleased to meet you Anton!” 

“Oh…umm…yes, right. Yes, Anton! That’s me! Anton. Pleased to meet you too, Joyce,” I was becoming quite uncomfortable. I don’t like over familiarity. 

“I’m one of the organisers of this event. You may have seen my name on some of the local forums; Mrs Lotterby?” 


“That’s my surname. I’m Joyce Lotterby. What did you say your surname was? Perhaps we’ve corresponded online?” 

“Certainly not!... I mean….certainly not remembering that we have, Mrs Lotterby…” 

“You never know. What’s your surname?” 

I dislike eye-contact with people I’m uncomfortable with and was staring at her deckchair. To my horror I heard myself begin to say I was Mr Deckchair, but managed to stop myself halfway through. 

“Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that? Mr Deck? Was that it?” 

I nodded miserably. It sounded ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as Deckchair. Joyce was looking at me intently. I worried that she may have seen through my disguise so decided to change the subject quickly. 

“How many children are here today?” 

“Oh, I’m not sure. Let me ask Helen, she was dealing more with attendance.” 

Joyce called across to a lady who was talking to a couple of very scruffy looking men. Typical home edders, I thought. Stained shirts, baggy trousers, scuffed shoes, uncombed hair, unshaven faces. Is this the sort of example to set children? The lady excused herself from her companions and hurried over. 

“Everything OK?” she asked Joyce. “I was just talking to Paul and David, they’re going to chat to the children and take some photos.” 

“There, you see! This is exactly the kind of thing that I’m worried about!” I blurted out before I could stop myself. “You lot should ALL be CRB checked as far as I’m concerned.” 

Both women exchanged confused looks and Helen said, “They’re from the local paper. Paul is a reporter and David is the photographer.” 

“….Yes…. well that’s what I meant…” Blast! “They should be checked, that’s all I’m saying….” 

Helen was staring at me in a rather disconcerting way as Joyce introduced me. 

“Helen, this is Anton Deck…..” 

Joyce’s son, Justin, began hooting with laughter for some reason I didn’t understand. I worry about the mental well-being for some of these children. 

Helen too appeared to be trying to hide a smile. “I’m tempted to say there’s less of you in real life – but I expect you get comments like that all the time.” 

I simply stared at her. What on earth was the woman talking about? She cleared her throat and struggled to maintain a serious expression. 

“Please to meet you Anton Deck,” (more laughter from Justin) “Aren’t you terribly hot in that anorak hood?” 

“No, look I’ve already been through that. I was wondering how many children were here this afternoon?” 

“I’ve lost count. Some haven’t yet arrived and a couple couldn’t come at the last minute. Let me see – it must be about 75 or so at present. Excuse me, but why are you writing that down.” 

I had pulled a small notebook from my pocket and was noting down the figures. 

“I’m a reporter too.” I said in a moment of inspiration. “And what age range do we have here?” 

“Well across the board really. Little Hannah over there is six years old, Michael and Sean playing conkers over there are 15.” 

I scribbled this down. “Playing conkers?!” I asked. “Unsupervised? With no protective eyewear and clothing?” I wrote this down too. It never ceases to shock me, the blatant disregard these people have when it comes to endangering the lives of children. 

“And how would you claim this afternoon was benefiting the children educationally?” 

“I don’t imagine it is.” 

“Ah… an admission!” I wrote that down. This is just the sort of confession Ed Balls is looking for. 

“But it benefits them socially. It proves they are actively interacting with the community and many of them helped with the organisation. Those cakes on the table for instance, Justin made them.” 

“Good Lord, but I nearly ate one of those!” 

“Excuse me, but what paper did you say you worked for?” 

“Umm…. Independent…” 

“Really? You must know Paul, then. He trained as a reporter on the Independent. Let me call him over. Paul! Paul, over here a minute! There’s an old colleague of yours here!” 

“No, no, no….Lowestoft Independent.” 

“Really? But that’s miles away! I wish the local MP was as keen as you were. She said she was definitely going to attend, but apparently at the last minute had something more important to do.” 

Joyce grunted. “Sadly that’s the difficulty we face, Anton. A lot of MPs aren’t interested.” She gave a short, hard laugh. “We should’ve invited Ed Balls along!” 

“He’d have probably come,” I nodded. 

“Really? Why would you think that?” 

“Free cake!” I said, indicating the table. Joyce and Helen laughed as if I’d deliberately made a joke, but I was simply stating a fact. 

“Oh look, here’s someone with a more sympathetic attitude to home-ed,” said Joyce. “Hello, Reverend, how are you?” 

I turned in horror to see the Rev. Thomas striding towards us, cup-cake in hand and smiling enthusiastically. He paused mid stride when he saw me and the trace of a frown crossed his face. 

“Huh-hello Joyce. Nuh-nice to see you Helen. Th-this is wuh-wonderful, isn’t it? I’m very impressed with the tuh-turnout.”

“Yes, Reverend, that’s what we were saying. Sorry, I haven’t introduced you. Reverend Thomas is our local vicars, Reverend this is a reporter, Anton Deck.” 

Even the Rev. Thomas appeared to be suppressing laughter as he shook my hand. What on earth was wrong with these people? 

“Duh-Deck? That’s Welsh isn’t it? I say, Anton, aren’t you tuh-terribly huh-hot in that anorak hood?” 

I didn’t know what to do. My disguise seemed to have fooled Rev. Thomas, but surely he’d recognise my voice. I’d have to disguise it. Wait a minute, though. If he thought Deck was a Welsh name, I might get away with an accent… 

“No….umm, boyo! I’m fine….um, isn’t it! Touch of malaria see, bach. Although my legs get quite hot since leaving the valleys…. Look you….” 

Rev. Thomas was peering at me thoughtfully. “Oh, I didn’t realise you were Indian, forgive me.” He glanced at my legs. “Surprisingly puh-pale skin you have.” 

“No, I’m Welsh, see. Isn’t it.” 

“Really? You certainly sound Indian! Puh-perhaps it’s the huh-hood of your anorak. Why don’t you undo it a bit. I’m sure the sunlight would help your muh-malaria?” 

He suddenly reached up towards my hood. In panic I jumped backwards and caught the edge of the picnic table. Scared that I was going to overbalance it, I grabbed at it and fell backwards landing in a heap at Joyce’s feet. She reached down to me, but I scrambled away, crab like, backing into the leg of the table and causing it to wobble dangerously. A plate tipped off the edge and the iced cake, complete with resident wasp, landed on my chest. There was a sudden silence in the crowd and a sea of faces were staring at me. One of the teenage lads I had first encountered pointed at me delightedly and shouted. 

“Oh no! They killed Kenny!” 

I rose to my feet with as much dignity as I could muster, knocking the cake onto the floor. It all goes to prove exactly what I’ve been saying about home education all along. Disorganised, unstructured and downright dangerous. I’d seen enough. Brushing aside supposedly helping hands I stepped forward, placing my foot firmly in the centre of the cake. 

“Leave me alone! I am perfectly all right, thank you very much. There is nothing to see here. Carry on with your work!” 

Rev. Thomas’s head snapped round to meet mine. “There’s something awfully fuh-familiar about you. Do you attend ch-church?” 

I’d forgotten to use my Welsh accent. He stepped towards me leaving me only one course of action. I turned and ran. Well, that is I ran as much as anyone can run when they are wearing an iced cake on one foot.

Annoyed at losing its meal, the wasp was also taking a rather unwanted interest in the leg of my shorts causing me to kick one leg out repeatedly. I lost a sandal in the process and progress across the park was slower than I would have wished. Amid cat-calls and laughter, I nearly fell over a small child and stopped abruptly in front of her. Glaring down I found my eyes met by Miranda Smith’s. She looked alarmed for a second, but then suddenly smiled. 

“Dark Lord Badman!” she called, merrily. “I didn’t know you were coming!” 

“You are mistaken. I don’t know who you are referring to.” 

“Why are you dressed so funny, Dark Lord Badman? Is it fancy dress?” 

“Look, I’m not me! I’m clearly someone else altogether. In fact I’m Welsh! Now out of my way, I’m in a hurry.” 

I pushed passed her as a group of people started to gather around me again. One of them said, “It’s just like I was saying. It’s not just the kids who get traumatised by school, some parents are dreadfully affected by having to deal with them!”


  1. Brilliant Oh Dark Lord, get the insider details so you can use it against them

  2. I check far too regularly than is good for me to see if you've posted anything new. I've been posting links to your blog just about everywhere.

    My non-home-educating friends have been howling with laughter and then asking me about all the juicy details of the Badman Report. Explaining it through your blog is definitely making it easier for them to understand the issues than my usual method of ranting like a psycho. They're as enthralled as I am and are certainly coming round to the view that GB is the most dangerous of wallies (by which I mean he's a bit of a berk rather than a pickled cucumber with a machete).

    Anyhow, thanks for keeping us entertained. Even my ten year old daughter can't wait for the next instalment of the dark lord's diary. Keep it up!