Hello all. I'm back in the office and the place has all the joie de vivre of the Marie Celeste, though I did bump into two friends in the canteen. They were discussing the awful situation of children seeking adoption: very few get adopted, and the proportion of adult prisoners who've been what's ironically called 'in care' is obscene: estimated at between a quarter and a half of all prisoners. 6% of children in care get 5 A-C GCSEs. A massive social failure which should revolt us all.
On the other hand, I've come up with a solution directly derived from our current cultural and political context. The dominant discourses are 'choice' and 'competition': education, schools (yes, they're a separate category but that's a whole other rant), hospitals, trains… why not adoption? Every single TV show going, from dancing to cooking, has had an unpleasant competition element added, as though it's not enough for people to simply do things well, and 'celebrity' has poisoned everything.
So welcome to The Oliver Factor, in which shiny scrubbed orphans compete in front of prospective parents and a celebrity panel (Louise Mensch, Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan, Gary Glitter, Lord Leveson and David Mitchell). They'll demonstrate their crayon drawing skills, we'll follow their 'journey' as they take Suzuki Method violin lessons, shin up chimneys and learn to cook gourmet gruel under the tutelage of Heston Blumenthal and Nigella ('more licking, Waynetta'). The judges will develop proprietary catchphrases ('You're going home… sorry, you're going back to the home') and we'll follow the heartbreaking story of the doomed-but-hopeful entrants: 'Harold has a big personality and lots of love… but he picks his nose and can't get the polenta quite right for his new parents'. There will be suspicions about some children not actually being orphans but Simon Cowell's Oompa-Loompas. Pastoral care, music and acting masterclasses will be delivered by Madonna and Angelina Jolie.
You think I'm joking, but ITV4 researchers are making calls right now. Apparently Jordan and Melvyn Bragg are already on board.