Sunday, September 26, 2010

That boy at the back! You're an idiot! What are you?

Yesterday some friends and I were kept in after school. Approximately 41 years after we left school may seem a little extreme, but some of them had been very naughty indeed.

Fortunately, we have all benefited by the strict disciplinary code practised at this fine seat of culture, and the successes that we have achieved have percolated into all seventeen corners of the world.

For the benefit of those of you who are careless in keeping up with news of global luminaries, here is a guide to my friends and I.

1) Dominic Plantagenet-Mincingboy.  Dom studied Aramaic at the university of Tirana, founded a company manufacturing software aimed at removing the word “” from the internet. As you can see, he has been very successful. With his enormous wealth, Dominic has pioneered a project ensuring that the inhabitants of the West Sahara have round-the-clock access to the television programmes of Nick Owen and Anne Diamond. As you can see he is not paying attention in class. We will probably have to repeat this detention.

2) Dame Eritrea Montgomery. She, of course, is the first woman to perform “Ol Man River” from Showboat at the Royal Command Variety event. She has a keen in interest in geology, blancmange moulds and the poetry of Richard Nixon. In between working on her fashion designs for the over-90s, she is the principle architect in charge of the reconstruction of “Plastic Henge” near Salisbury.

3) Fortuna Aristophanes. English hammer throwing champion, compiler of the Shrewsbury University directory of bathroom windows, and lead singer with Iron Maiden, her talents are catholic as, indeed, are her propensities.

4) Hephzibah Lumbarpuncture. Pioneering surgeon whose work on replacing ankle bones with ball bearings, and the extension of the optic nerve to finger and toe ends has advanced the theory and practice of voyeurism, and her lectures at the Gdansk medical facility were truly ground-breaking in their audience participation aspects, but sadly resulted in her being prevented from returning to Eastern Europe.

5) Patriach Archbishop Arthur Rosebush of the Armenian Orthodox Church, winner of the 1996 final of “Wheel of Fortune”.

6) Gandalf Montesorri, still playing left side flanker for the Tintagel Patriots rugby union team, and a trailblazer in the field of marine unorthodoxy.

7) Uriel Wenchfondler. Tireless worker for the advancement of vegetable rights, and recipient of the Life Time Achievement award in kale husbandry.

8) Cynthia Leftpancreas. Inventor of recyclable salad dressing, pomegranate ketchup and the dodecahedral apple and raspberry pie. We are all deeply, deeply indebted to her.

9) Eroica Entwhistle. Despite, in this photograph, appearing to gaze admiringly, if not lustfully, at the star of the class, Ms Entwhistle is an expert on the migratory habits of snails, has translated the works of Jilly Cooper into 17 African languages and is widely respected in the Meccano collectors community.

10) Vicus Scurra. All round good egg, confidante of and counsellor to the rich and famous, accomplished sportsman, musician and academic.

11) Ciceley Thricenightly. Exotic dancer, aardvark charmer, Phil Collins impersonator and the only woman to be a freeman of both Willoughby Waterleys and Phnom Penh.

12) Audrey Gnomesnatcher, PhD. President of the Islamic Jihad for the liberation of Carlton Curlieu, walked backwards across the Gobi to raise money for research into research. Mother of 24 children and advisor to the Gyles Brandreth Appreciation Society.

13) Rear Admiral Sir Hezekiah Amberspoon. Sixth in line to the throne of Upper Volta, handkerchief designer and lothario.

14) Guevara Cerise. Professor of Tomfoolery at Curly Howard University, East Moron, Vermont. Dancing coach to Joshua Nkomo and holder of the world record for squid balancing.

Mr Mans has been waiting for us to attend this detention since 1968. This is typical of his deep commitment to his profession. You may think that someone who did not know the correct plural of one of the most common words in the language was not a suitable candidate for head of English. However, the alternative would have been to have been taught by one of the Mr Men. Not something to mention in your university entrance application.

Mr Mans’ favoured area of study were the works of great comic writers; Dostoevsky, Milton and Barbara Cartland were the most popular authors in this category. Here he is seen expounding on the great slapstick scene “Before the Law” from “The Trial”.

If I may break out of character for a moment, I request that if you adding a comment please do not make derogatory remarks about any of the people depicted above apart from me, (unless you are in the cast list).

Yesterday I went back to my school for the first time in 41 years, and met these splendid people who were all in my year, many of whom I had not seen since, and we were able to recruit Peter Mans, one of the many outstanding teachers of my time, to re-enact those days. 

I see myself as very fortunate to have been educated here. Humanity was seen as more important than accomplishment, equality and fairness professed and practised. Being a pioneering school it attracted a very high standard of enthusiastic and committed teachers (interspersed with the occasional throwback and idiot, of course). I am very grateful to these people and in particular to my headmaster, who returned yesterday and expressed similar sentiments in a far more forceful and articulate manner than I can manage. 

That is the end of this service message. Normal nonsense will return next time.


Geoff said...

You're sitting where I sat when I was first in English for a week in 1973.

I hope you put the chairs on the desks afterwards.

Donnold Coppens said...

Fabulous and very informative.

This is an amazing collection of people, all of whom have made an enormous contribution towards making this planet a "kinder-gentler" place.

It comes as no surprise that your astonishing insights into energy particle accelerators arose from finding your place amongst such a powerful peer group.

These people 'raised the bar' so high, that any ordinary person would have just given up and accepted an unremarkable life as a hewer of wood here in the Colonies.

Vicus Scurra said...

Geoff. Did you find my chewing gum? And of course we put the chairs back.

Donn. A Canadian-free zone. Apart from one.

Rog said...

You look bloody miserable considering the longing looks of the lovely no 9. She's obviously an imposter - had her mother sent her in lieu?

Vicus Scurra said...

Rog. You said "in lieu". I didn't titter.

Tim Footman said...

There's always one person who turns up to his reunion in a jacket and tie.

Vicus Scurra said...

Until I carefully re-read your comment, Tim, I was worried lest the gentleman in question was not only an imposter, but a pervert who attended all of the reunions in the world, dressed in a jacket and tie.
I am reassured by:
1) On careful examination I am sure that you are saying that at each reunion there is a person dressed as such, but not that it was the same person at every event.
2) If you look carefully you will see that we had 2. I am, as you know, not judgemental by nature, and would support their right to dress as they wish, no matter now anachronistic that may appear.
3) The gentleman to whom you refer was able to recall an appalling incident featuring a famous television personality from our schooldays, which would not be common knowledge outside of our circle.
4) I am confident that you are not suggesting that the gentleman in question wore only a jacket and tie. I am fairly sure that someone would have noticed. Not me, of course, I do not normally concern myself with the appearance below waist level of members of my own sex. Not since that other incident, that is.

arwriter said...

gawd, this is wonderful!

Vicus Scurra said...

Thank you Anna, so are you.

Dave said...

I note that you are the only boy sitting up straight. In fact your position apprears so strangely false that I am forced to conclude that you are a cardboard cut-out.

I attended a boy-only grammar school. I first saw a girl at the age of 19. I have never been the same since.

Christopher said...

Given the current risks of identity theft, couldn't you have given your former classmates pseudonyms?

In re your title, in Scotland it was once, well within living memory, the practice to seat kids with high marks in a previous exam in the front rows, and so progressively to the back, where the least able sat. Clearly the reverse process has happened here, probably through application of the motto on the far left wall display.

Obviously a happy experience, though. When the chemistry of these things works, it works so well.

MJ said...

We can't see your hands.

Vicus Scurra said...

Dave, posture was not on our curriculum. As usual your ramblings are riddled with ambiguities. Are you talking about a specific girl, was it you or she who was 19, were you better or worse for the experience? I think we should be told.

Christopher, several of us made efforts to contact and in some cases meet each other over the last few months and years. 10 of us spent the day together before the evening's event, so there were very few surprises on the evening, and the couple of people the rest of us were not expecting to see provided even more delight. I wish that I had been able to add some graffiti to the wall displays. We would have done it in the 1960's.

MJ. Nor hers. I will not lower the tone (this once), but were I able to go back in time and show my contemporaries in 1968 this image, and mention the young lady's name, I would be the envy of all. Alas, the explanation is more mundane. I was attempting to bring a note of gravitas to the study of English Literature. Mr Mans is clearly still too lax in his maintenance of class discipline.

Z said...

I have never been tempted to attend a school reunion although, 41 years on, perhaps it would be quite bearable. It would be too embarrassing not to recognise anyone, however - not because of age but because I wouldn't remember them. Not that I have unhappy memories of the place or the people. I'm just unfriendly, unfortunately.

Richard said...

Good work.

Z said...

Having just looked at the photo on the computer rather than the phone, it's evident that you were all at nursery school together. Few of you look old enough to have been at school at all in 1968.

Rol said...

I feel strangely touched.

the boy at the back said...

yes sir, I'm an idiot

dinahmow said...

Sitting up straight, at the back of the class. You must have been one of the very good, studious boys!Or an idiot.

(But this was a lovely, friendly post.)

Adam said...

But what about that unlabeled fellow hanging from the ceiling like that? He looks like he's some sort of robot. Surely I can make derogatory comments about him.

Vicus Scurra said...

Z. You should have come to our reunion. We are all too old to remember anyone. All the hatred and resentment has disappeared in a senile fog.
Richard. A-?
Z. Had you been fortunate to have been at school with me, you, too, would have looked another 20 years younger.
Rol. That happened to me on the back row, too.
The Boy at the Back. Write out 17000 times "We are not at home to Mrs Insolent".
Dinahmow. Thank you.
Adam. That was Dr Adey's obliteration ray machine. If any child forgot to memorise the required text from the Summoner's Tale, the machine would be initiated, the child would vanish, and the rest of the class would have their memories of him/her erased. This is why, when that chap whose name escapes me at the moment, failed to turn up at the reunion, no one noticed.

The Boy @ said...

We are not at home to Mrs Insolent. we are not at home to Mrs Insolent WE ARE NOT AT HOME TO MRS INSOLENT We are not at home to Mrs Insolent. we are not at home to Mrs Insolent WE ARE NOT AT HOME TO MRS INSOLENT We are not at home to Mrs Insolent. we are not at home to Mrs Insolent WE ARE NOT AT HOME TO MRS INSOLENT We are not at home to Mrs Insolent. we are not at home to Mrs Insolent WE ARE NOT AT HOME TO MRS INSOLENT We are not at home to Mrs Insolent. we are not at home to Mrs Insolent WE ARE NOT AT HOME TO MRS INSOLENT We are not at home to Mrs Insolent. we are not at home to Mrs Insolent WE ARE NOT AT HOME TO MRS INSOLENT

(and so on)