Coming Back For More
I like Gavin's style. He tagged me back for a further review of things you may not know about me. Can there be more? There must be more, and still enough left over to leave me with at least a small air of mystery.So here goes. Be warned, there are some lengthy stories here:
- I'll get this one out of the way immediately. I didn't make any New Year's Resolutions for 2007. Ha ha! A revelation that reveals nothing. Or does it?
- Injustice and inconsistency are the things I find hardest to deal with. The two things are linked in my mind because inconsistency in a person's behaviour often leads to unjust actions. I've seen that most in my working life. I had my first lesson in different kinds of injustice when I was ten years old. There may have been earlier lessons on the topic, but this is the first one I remember where it all turned out rather well. It was a small-scale event from where I sit now, but it filled the world of a ten year old.
A new end to school break times was being trialed. Instead of the whistle being blown and the kids all running or dawdling into classes in a rowdy fashion, we had to stand still for two minutes, in total silence. Only after we'd achieved this were we allowed back inside, continuing our silence. Anyone who made a sound was sent to stand outside the head's office to wait for the wrath of the teacher on duty.
This one break time someone in my group laughed after the whistle. I won't say who it was. It wasn't me. I must have had the guiltiest face, or perhaps I was the one smiling, because Miss Jones pointed me out with the evil finger, and I had to make the walk of shame, alone, past all the other silent pupils into the school. Miss Jones followed me in to let me know how disappointed she was, in me of all people! Later, my class teacher was mad at me too.
That's when something snapped in my head. I didn't mean to be a snitch, but I couldn't stand how they were making me out to be badder than bad, just because they assumed me always to be good - and this time I hadn't even done anything! So I told my class teacher, Mrs Gundy, that it wasn't me. She believed me, but that wasn't the end of it. Just like in all the best police dramas, she wouldn't let me off until I gave her a name. I'm not sure I felt any better for doing that.
I don't remember the other girl getting into trouble, nor giving me the cold shoulder, so perhaps nothing was said to her. I do remember how Miss Jones came to me the next day and said, "You've been dealt an injustice." Injustice was a serious and loaded word in my head, involving governments, laws, courts and prison, so I didn't understand what she meant at first. Then she apologised for what happened after the whistle. "There are all kinds of ways injustice can be experienced," she said. Miss Jones restored me in that moment. I admired her for that. Miss Jones taught me Maths, but this was her best lesson. It made me realise that the smallest things I might say (or not say) in my daily communication with others can have a dramatic effect.
- A lot of things happened when I was ten. I read once that ten is meant to be the happiest year in a child's development. I'm not sure how that can be true for all children, or how they tested that statistically. Maybe it's about having one's sense of self more solidly recognised by other people. Reaching double figures is quite something.
Perhaps something that happened when I was ten helped me understand I was a lesbian. Perhaps it opened up the possibility. It happened during a residential school trip to London with all of my class, plus a small group of children from another Herefordshire school. It was late June and a typical British summer. So why would any of us need our coats or waterproofs? That's the decision the lead teacher of our party made. "It's beautiful sunshine. We've got a lot of walking to do. Coats will just weigh you down. Leave your coats on the bus."
It started pissing down with rain on the way to Big Ben. Quite a way from Big Ben, and there was no time to shelter because we were due to hear the great clock chime the hour. There would be other hours, of course, but we were booked in at this particular hour. You can't just walk up Big Ben any time you please.
I was soaked, and the higher we got up the tower the colder I felt. We stood around for what seemed like forever and I shivered and shivered. I was part of a smaller group, led by Mrs Jones*, the only teacher from the other school. It wasn't Mrs Jones who made the decision about the coats. No mother would do that! I somehow know she was a mother; maybe because I watched her help two children out of the back seat of her car when, in a brief moment of astonished excitement, I saw her a couple of years later outside our local shops. But I didn't see her as a mother at the top of Big Ben. Nor even a teacher. She was already interesting because she had no existing relationship to me, none of the traditional authority figure presence that was within my ten year old's understanding. She was almost magical. It was as if she had appeared from nowhere to accompany us on a week's holiday.
It seems unlikely that I would be the only one shivering. But I'm the one that Mrs Jones instinctively, naturally, yes, maternally, took in her arms and hugged and hugged. It was such a fantastic moment of human warmth, I loved her for it.
- I enjoy watching The World's Strongest Man. It's an annual event which is so much a part of the Christmas/New Year holiday for me, and I look forward to it every year.
Do I watch it as a form of human freakery? I'm not sure that I do, although there is something fascinating about the human body's potential to recreate itself out of the realms of the ordinary. I do make assessments of these men's bodies. There is certainly more appeal to the well-toned solid muscle men than those whose sheer bulk is padded out with flab. And yet these men all compete against each other, all heights, weights and body shapes. And there can be surprising winners!
The World's Strongest Man is on TV every night this week. The final's on Friday. It doesn't encourage me to take up body-building, or consider the muscle tone of men outside of such a contest, but I certainly enjoy being a spectator at this high-end of the sport.
- In the summer of 1989 I worked in a psychiatric hospital as a cleaner. This is how I learned that I have an allergy to rubber gloves. I learned quite a few other things there. But say no more - for now!
*And yes, both teachers depicted in 2. and 3. really were called Jones.