IT’S human nature to want to be publicly acknowledged for our achievements.

It starts in primary school when we show our parents the fruits of our early labours and continues in the ever-present search for adult life's glittering prizes.

So I pray that a deluded decision by Highgate School in London will be kept exclusively for their own insular cloisters and it doesn’t catch on.

It seems their reasoning to scrap prize-giving at this £20,000-a-year fee private school is to avoid "upsetting pupils who do not win anything."

There will no longer be an end-of-year-ceremony - only a series of smaller events for prize winners and their families.

Spoil sports.

As a former child myself, I was always encouraged by school prize-giving days.

I feel that getting rid of such ceremonies does not prepare youngsters for coping with what lies ahead since we are told we must strive to be the best we can in whatever we do.

Stuart Evans, the head of lower school, who also wants to introduce gender-neutral toilets and uniforms, deserves an award for headline-grabbing with this promotion of non-competiveness.

He says he did not feel it was right for pupils who were non prize- winners to sit through an event where prize winners are being singled-out and applauded.

It is schools that educate us in seeking that first prize whether coming tops in English or a swimming certificate eventually leading for many the degree handed out on graduation day.

Imagine if all Olympic winners received their medals in jiffy bags.

Or special mail deliveries came with the message: "Excuse me, sir, madam, can you sign for this Oscar." 

It is right to make a fuss when we do something to be proud of.

The system works both ways.

Teachers want to see those who worked hard rewarded and they, in the process, get professional satisfaction knowing their dedication has paid off.


EACH year I attend LIPA's (Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts) graduation day where a proud Paul McCartney hands out the graduation badges.

I never fail to feel emotion when the gowned students throw their hats in the air.

It reminds me of getting a simple book for doing well in primary school. It was a real incentive as we all clapped hands for each fellow prize-winning pupil.

The Wirral Globe School Awards are also an extension of the humble prize-giving day.

Long may they continue to inspire. Highgate School should be taught a lesson ... to get off its high horse.


THERE were early fireworks this week when the BBC switchboard nearly blew up over irate viewers sickened by its historic drama Gunpowder which showed graphic scenes of grisly executions.

No doubt there will be questions asked in the Houses of Parliament - the very place Guy Fawkes tried to dismantle.

It seems the BBC can cope with complaints – a new report says they get on average 1,000 a day.

I wonder where Merseytravel are in the National Complaints League?

The BBC has also come under fire for showing too many repeats and for not coming up with more original comedy.

The Beeb are, however, trying to make certain dramas less complicated by trimming down on sub-plots to make them more "viewer-friendly."

I might surprise their complaints department and ring them with a compliment.

As a licence payer and Charter fan, I don’t want them getting paranoid.


TALKING of phobias I once met a man who was scared of cheese - whenever a cheeseboard would appear at a restaurant he would be out of the door before you could say Double Gloucester.

Now the top ten food phobias have been revealed.

Liver, kidneys and mince are in the top five - or is that just an offal rumour?

Actually, I am developing Erminephobia – a hatred of those peers in the House of Lords who, it was revealed yesterday, have claimed £400k in expenses (I bet they don't have to wait six weeks for payment).

Phobias are increasing so much in our stressful lives that we now have ... phobophobia.


JULES Verne was ahead of his time, but even he couldn’t have foreseen the arrival of the 'virtual reality machine.'

One 80-year-old granny has now bought herself a virtual reality set where she can travel the globe in 80 hours without leaving her armchair. Holidays on tap.

As for techno-phobic me, I will be sitting in the audience with my virtual Globe reviewer’s hat on for a new production of Verne's classic Around the World in Eighty Days which opens at the Playhouse on Friday.

Seeing a cast of eight take on 125 characters is as virtual as I want it to be.

And it's five stars for the Playhouse which is now a "star" in its own right.

It has a supporting role in the new true-life movie Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool.

And also look out for our very own ferry across the Mersey which appears in all its Wirral-bound glory.

That should boost tourism when the film about tragic Liverpudlian actress Gloria Grahame opens next month. Bring a tissue.


AND finally ... first we have had bus replacement services for rail services and now ironically - trains become replacement services when the buses go on strike.

What happens if they both go off at the same time?

"Shanks' Pony" is the answer – no chance of industrial action there.

Peter Grant