Mark Andrews: Benny Hill teachers and why we should defend the freedoms of those we disagree with

Derek Turkington was a teacher of something known as "personal and social education", which appears to involve the use of a lot of prosthetic penises.

Republican protesters
Republican protesters

Mr Turkington, it seems, got a bit carried away, stuffing one of the aforementioned prosthetic penises down his trousers and undoing his zip in front of colleagues. This, apparently, goes beyond the scope of the curriculum, and Mr Turkington was this week banned from the classroom.

In what must be one of the best character references ever, fellow teacher Martin Newcombe described Mr Turkington as 'a kind of Benny Hill character in his regards to sexual actions or language... it was just Derek being Derek'.

Mr Turkington claimed any willy waving would have been purely unintentional, the result of having to carry a box 'overflowing with fake penises' for his lesson.

I guess we've all been there.

Meanwhile, writing in the Guardian this week, Lola Okolosie – 'an English teacher and writer focusing on race, politics, education and feminism' – warns that tight education budgets mean future school trips could be under threat.

Just an idea. But if you need to save money, maybe cutting back on boxes 'overflowing with fake penises' could be a starting point?

* * *

Staying with the quirks of our education system for one moment, parents in Nottinghamshire are unhappy that their children are only allowed to drink water from £5 bottles carrying the school crest.

It does sound incredibly petty, not to mention a bit of a rip off, but when did it become de rigeur to wander around swigging from a water bottle in the first place? Not only is it frightfully uncouth, it can't be conducive to good learning if the pupils spend half the day bosting for a Jimmy.

* * *

Well that didn't take long, did it? The Queen had only been gone a week, and the anti-monarchist head-bangers were already out in force, waving placards at the royal procession, and heckling a grieving family.

But while I find this motley crew distasteful, disrespectful and repulsive, I am very uneasy about them being arrested for nothing more than oafish behaviour. Unlike the super-glue loons of Extinction Rebellion et al, they neither caused major disruption nor put lives in danger.

If the forces of freedom are to triumph over the sinister threat of cancel culture, then those of us who cherish liberty have to lead by example. And that means showing fanatical bigots that we will defend their freedom of expression, however much we may disagree with what they stand for.

Besides, if these oddballs represent the calibre of the republican opposition, I think the monarchy's future looks pretty safe.

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