EDUCATION Secretary Michael Gove, answering questions in the Commons about the teachers’ strike, sounded, according to the impish columnist Quentin Letts, like ‘a dowager just goosed’.

I wish I’d written that. It would have made Lord Simon Stuart proud.

I owe Simon Stuart a lot. He fired in me a love of words and phrases. (So you can all blame him.) School may have been about as interesting as a 1950s’ Eastern European haircut but don’t we all have one teacher we remember who was inspirational? Mine was Simon Stuart.

They say that for every person wanting to teach there are 30 who don’t want to be taught… and I was certainly among the 30. You might have thought that I would grow up to become a physician specialising in spatio-temporal dimensions judging by the time I spent staring at the classroom clock. Or, more likely, a layabout.

I didn’t… thanks largely to Simon Stewart.

I became hooked on books and how they related to the world around me. And became a hack.

This week, the world around me has seen teachers strike. Preceding it, Mr Gove encouraged parents to break the strike by turning up and taking lessons themselves. How silly was that?

I won’t attempt to understand the squabble over the pensions issue but I do know that good teachers – and only good ones – are worth their weight in bullion. And it’s ludicrous to think that any Tom, Dick or Ed can wander in and inspire children. A good teacher is the greatest of gifts.

Another great newspaper columnist Katherine Whitehorn once said that the main purpose of education is to keep teachers off the streets. Whoever is to blame, it didn’t work this week.