Sunday, 26 August 2012

Can't be just a party in a field

All government officials, local authorities and makers of proper forms can be proud of us.

In the interests of community cohesion, equal opportunity, social inclusion, co-operative partnership, please tick your ethnic origin, White British White and Black Caribbean Asian or Asian British Chinese or other ethnic group, I take the education specified, School Private State Home Other, Shark, Squirrel, Tiger, and Aunty Dee to the weekend Islamic festival.

There are some bouncy balls, noisy radios and stalls selling handbags. The kids wander round a bit, wondering whether to tap Aunty Dee for a bag of onion bhajis, sesame halva, or nothing, probably not thinking that every mouthful, or absence of a mouthful, is a statement of dietary requirements please express your dietary preference as a service user Vegetarian Vegan Related to religious practice such as Kosher or Halal None specified (will eat kangaroo).

After wandering round the stalls they do become a little bored, it is true, thanks to the grass-based gentility which looks more like Which family can sit around eating the biggest picnic so I tell them to count languages for daddy Dig and see if they can hear the difference between Punjabi Urdu Bengali Gujarati Hindi French Spanish Polish Arabic Turkish Portuguese Farsi Tamil and Somali Please tick.

The music occupies everyone for a while, because it's human, so there isn't any box to tick at all but it's an opportunity for the Local Authority to shuffle off and organise their colour-coded clipboards or count their hours in order to evaluate and assess the quality and accessibility of the service and identify whether any equal opportunities issues are reported by service users accessing this provision.

Just before we leave, I head over to the Religion Table. I feel I should. Surely it has to be the whole point of this festival Please tick one Christian Church of England Catholic Protestant all other Christian denominations Buddhist Hindu Jewish Muslim Sikh Not stated. A rather dashing young man is offering a Koran for the price of an argument about organised religions, so I do that, while the rest of my tribe scarper.

And when it comes time, as it surely will, to complete the educational monitoring form which could be the delight of a government officer to compile in order to explore issues for that minority community while at the same time being able to allocate resources for comparison with local or national population data or with data from other places to ensure fair compliance procedures are followed and due recording respect is accorded to all individuals self-assigning distinct educational deliveries, they can know that we can tick the religions curriculum box having attended the Islamic Festival which, by the way, went okay.

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