In what was by and large a very good column from the Heff on Wednesday entitled What have the past 10 years of Blair been for?, he used the word "spavined" to describe schools in Britain.
According to the Collins English Dictionary, this word means "lame; decripit or worn out".
Without knowing the precise definition beforehand, my initial guess was that the word "spavined" was a contraction of two other words: spastic and bovine.
In its derogatory sense, spastic is defined as "A clumsy, incapable or incompetent person".
Bovine, when applied to people, means "dull; sluggish".
I think it a little unfair simply to state "our schools are spavined" as a general criticism, when this is clearly not true for all or even a majority. And the word denotes primarily the physical condition of the object to which it refers, which could lead you in to the Labour trap of concentrating more on the infrastructure than what goes on inside the school buildings. But as a one word summary of most of our governing Party's philosophy and policy actions, you can see how my interpretation is at least as good in capturing the essence of new Labour, body, mind and spirit...
(with apologies to all people with cerebral palsy, etc., who don't deserve to be compared to a new (or old) Labour minister or policy initiative)
(p.s. the citing of the picture of The Hoff in this article is in no way intended to impute on his good character any of the descriptions utilised in this article for people whose contribution to the common weal has been far less substantial)
"Once back here I got to thinking - 'how do I get out of this?' Perhaps the really haunting spectre is that I would have to turn my back on the lake, and the prospect of the sword." Alan Clark, Diaries - 19th May 1999