Sunday, March 13, 2011


“I don’t think they are the same they; not the they you were referring to when you said they were out to get them” explained Smartypants patiently “They are the they who are watching and – turning to face Lefty – the they are the they who are the powers that be in the capitalist system”
“You can’t put it clearer than that” agreed Fancypants
“Too many pronouns” said Teacherspet nodding sagely
“Don’t be such a smart-ass!” said The Gorilla “They are communicating aren’t they?”
“Communicating? You off your rocker? It’s Dreamy and Lefty we are talking about. When did Dreamy ever communicate with anyone? Interjected The Professor
“You can’t be too careful. They are watching you the whole time and listening” hissed Dreamy his eyes wide as saucers “They are out to get me” he added eyeing the coat rack suspiciously.
We all turned round to glance at the coat rack and then back at Dreamy who having emerged momentarily from his usual trance, had once more retreated into his subconscious, an area of his mind he seemed to inhabit permanently. He does, occasionally, write me essays that defy logic; a shrink’s dream…
“You are willfully misunderstanding me” shrieked Lefty leaping to his feet as was his habit “Conflict will erupt as the working classes of the world unite…”
“Cry havoc and let slip the hounds of war” said The Professor sagely
“Dogs of war” snapped Teacherspet turning to look at me
“Google it” I retorted
“Unite? Which planet are you living on? No worker in his right mind in this country is going to unite with workers in Greece or Israel. And can you see French workers and British workers uniting?” scoffed Fancypants completely ignoring Julius Ceaser “They are already united with Pakis and Indians not mention West Indians and look where that got them” he added waging his finger
“I am sure they regret it like anything. Unions can be carried too far. Vague discussions are fine but anything more tends to get messy” nodded Metalchic who was all for free love and free pretty much everything.
“Can’t everyone have their own private little revolutions?” asked Goodasgold in conciliatory tones
We all gaped: it was the first time she had spoken since the beginning of the year. She and her buddy Quietasamouse would mouth the answers to questions I put to them and yours truly was expected to lip read, something I have developed a knack for I must admit. They had a third buddy: Stuartlittle who gave the impression of being trapped in her own body. She’s been eying Lefty approvingly since he arrived though; definitely a spark there I would say… Due partly to a shared world view.
“I didn’t know monkeys had working classes” said Blondie intrigued
“How can you be so frivolous!” cried Lefty passionately on his feet once again. Reminds me of you know who who did the same thing all through the first term. Why is it that opinionated people can’t talk sitting down? When I later told my daughter about this, she retorted: “You’re a fine one to talk!” cheeky monkey. Anyhow, getting back to the irate Lefty:  “Workers round the globe will rise up and…”
“He’s one sick puppy” said The Swimmer shaking his head
“Simon the Zealot eat your heart out” agreed The Professor
We were reading – supposedly – and discussing – equally supposedly – that wonderful text “Causes of Conflict” which attempts to discover the underlying causes of group conflict by examining conflict in primate communities and kids.
“It says here they killed the ladies and ohhhh they tore them apart” she said with a shudder “They are horrid. I don’t like monkeys and I refuse to believe we come from monkeys”
“Men” snorted Rockchic  as she removed the resident silverback, The Quarterback’s, arm from the back of her chair “Keep your hands to yourself or I’ll give you conflict” she warned
“Mountain gorillas are wonderful gentle creatures although chimps have some questionable practices” mused The Gorilla
“All absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble; Samuel Johnson” said Teacherspet gleefully.
That was the last straw; The Quarterback finally flipped his lid:
“You little prick! Wait until we get out of class!
“For Heaven’s sake! Can’t you discuss a text without disintegrating into arguments? I protested
“You get pissed off with someone if he does something dumb; you don’t get pissed with whole communities; that’s sick” said The Swimmer
“Yeah… They’re not where they are supposed to be ‘cos they’re ogling some chick so you feel hot and ready to pop like a pressure cooker and you grab them by the collar and head-butt them and…” The Quaterback began to explain.
“Not that old chestnut” yawned Teacherspet
“What on earth do you mean?” I asked
“The wideout; he’s a right idiot” The Gorilla explained
I am finally going to have to face the fact that they are incapable of having a general discussion about any issue; it drives me mad. You mention stress and conflict and out pops a team mate. Everything is so personal… I have never seen the like. Then there is Lefty of course and he has by no means given up:
“The individual has always had to struggle not to be overwhelmed by the tribe” he said glaring at his foes
“You’re contradicting yourself you know” nodded Fancypants “And it wasn’t one of your idols who said that; I can tell you. It was Nietzche” ???
Thank God we ran out of time at that point. Later, I recounted all this to my daughter who chuckled and remarked:
“Give them a few years in the private sector and a regular salary and they’ll all become arch capitalists like the rest of us. You’ll see. Fancypants is way ahead of them.”
She’s right of course. It’s all part of growing up I guess…

Saturday, March 12, 2011


In the computer lab…
“It says here that they’ve found a footprint of a Roman child” exclaimed  Rockchic
“Look you can see her itsy bitsy little toes” crooned The Gorilla
“Didn’t Romans wear sandals?” asked The Swimmer
“Not in winter silly” replied Blondie
“What do you think they wore? There was no Nike then or Adidas” snapped Smartypants
“I agree that Adidas hadn’t been created but Nike was certainly around; she was the Roman Goddess of victory” said Teacherspet primly.
“Oh! Did she wear sneakers then? asked Blondie in wide eyed amazement
“You are supposed to be researching “Citizen Journalism”. Will you quit fooling around!” I warned
“It is citizen journalism; someone sent in a video” said Smartypants in a soothing voice
“Look , look a rat running across the porch of 10, Downing Street; you know where what’s-his-name lives!” The Swimmer exclaimed. He was watching a video posted by someone
“Cameron” said Teacherspet
“Don’t be a berk; she’s in that series House!” replied Superman
“Oh and look there comes Larry! Larry! Larry!” exclaimed The Furies
They all crowded round the computer to see Larry; a large tabby tom cat who had been requisitioned to deal with Mickey Mouse’s large relative.
“You do realize that you have an internet connection on all these computers don’t you?” I snapped
“Shh… This is better fun” said The Quarterback who had snuggled up to Rockchic. He did break away with a yelp of pain pretty quickly though…
“It is citizen journalism; honest” promised The Professor
And there was I thinking they’d be looking at what is happening in North Africa or Wikipedia at least…
In class covering “Can you live forever? Maybe not- But you can have fun trying”
“It says here that this guy wants to download our brains into computers and he believes we will still be ourselves and not zombies” said The Professor with interest
“ Does that mean we won’t need to download music or films any longer and that we can just lie back close our eyes  and watch whatever we please?” asked Fancypants with interest
“Yea, you could lie back and watch Spartacus without moving a muscle” said The Quarterback dreamily
“It also says they’ll be throwing out your brain; you know getting rid of it” said Matalchic
“That sound rather disturbing” said Superman who had arrived in class dressed in true Goth style and was sitting next to a delighted Metalchic
“I don’t have any problems with throwing the brains away. Have you ever seen a brain; it’s icky” said Blondie with a shudder
“Some are ickier than others; I am quite happy with mine but I understand if some people would rather be upgraded” said Teacherspet in a voice of disgust
“You might be a zombie though, zombie though, zombie though” chorused The Furies
“You don’t need to be merged with a computer to be a zombie; some of us manage very well as we are” said Smartypants eyeing the retreating back of Dreamy, who having got claustrophobic again, was heading for the door.
“You need to have a brain that you can merge with a computer for starters” said Teacherspet
“Look here you!” growled The Quarterback
We were working our way through this fascinating text off The Scientific American web site. We’d started an hour earlier with a colleague from our Kilyos campus as an observer. A. and I walked in, I introduced him and announced he’d be joining us whereupon The Quarterback gave him a cheery wave and they all settled down like lambs to cooperate and stay on course like they’d never done before. My first reaction was one of euphoria: we discussed the issues raised by the text without once going off at tangents, answered the questions and read; without a murmur I might add. You could’ve heard a pin drop. Come the second hour though, they were back to their usual selves – A. had left you see. I was really put out at first until my daughter put me straight:
“They look upon you as one of them; they like you; you should take it as a compliment” she explained
Ever the optimist, I have decided to agree with her. So there we were in the midst of one of our usual noisy discussions when we saw Dreamy’s face framed in the window on the door: he seemed to be in a sort of trance. Behind him, we could just make out another figure. They just stood there.
“He’s really lost the plot this time” said Smartypants and made for the door to let him in.
When the door was opened, Dreamy seemed to wake up; he wafted off to his seat without a word.
“Try turning the handle next time!” Smartypants called after him
We were left staring at a young man with a sallow complexion and a lot of disheveled hair which could have done with a wash who was wearing a pair of baggy trousers and a hoody of indistinct color. He looked rather peeved.
“I have come from Kilyos” he announced belligerently
“You’ll have to get a piece of paper to say you can come in and you don’t have to go back to Kilyos for it” Blondie blurted out before anyone could open their mouths
The newbie gave her a withering look and produced a crumpled piece of paper which clearly stated that this angry young man was in our class. He took a look at the two empty seats either side of Teacherspet who glared at him and then slumped off in to a corner. Having looked at the text we were reading, he became animated; there appeared this glint in his eyes. We’d got to that bit of the text which discusses implants; some embedded in the brain some attached to the outside and all that could be achieved through them:
“The deaf shall hear; the blind shall see and everyone will have an IQ of a thousand!” said Dreamy throwing his arms in the air
“I think you’ll find IQ wasn’t part of the deal and you’ve left out the cripples” said The Professor
“You don’t realize what this means do you? None of you! This is mind control. You will be like the Epsilons in that man’s book. You will be pawns of the capitalist system. They aim to have complete control. They’ll destroy you” said the newbie who we dubbed Lefty on the spot.
“Aren’t you 50 years or so too late for that kind of talk and some aspects of the market economy are, you must admit, rather good” said Fancypants in conversational tones
Lefty took one look at him and decided then and there to hate him with a passion you can’t even imagine
“Oh he’s harmless” said Smartypants benevolently
“ Anyway,you can’t die; you’ve been merged with a computer and are immortal” Blondie explained kindly.
She was trying to repay everything Dr. Why had done for her. He was no longer with us as he’d passed the exam and was plaguing some other unfortunate teachers in the university. He did keep turning up like a bad penny explaining he had a few things to ask me though and really trying my patience.
“I would hate to be merged with a computer” said Fancypants with a shudder; “I could live with implants though provided they were tasteful”. He was rather vain you see…
“Maybe they’ll be in different colors to match your clothes and praps the big designers will produce their own. You could have a Dolce and Gabana implant” nodded Blondie
“Or an Adidas one” mused The Quarterback
The look of horror on Lefty’s face was something to see. He must have been shocked at the den of depravity and frivolity he’d landed in but as we were to see, he did not give up. It was at this point that we were saved by the bell.
The text did, in fact, go very well as they went home and wrote me some reasonably good essays for the next day and when asked, gave the text a thumbs up.
We were only playing…
I walked into class looking straight ahead; I mean how many of you look at the floor as you walk into class? And I stepped into something squishy; I felt my foot sort of veer to the left as if it had a mind of its own. I looked down at the floor and my eyes nearly popped out of my head:
“What the hell has been going on here? What are those black splodges ?
“How do you spell that?” asked Teacherspet but I ignored him
“We were playing Samurais” explained Superman brandishing his felt tipped pen
“Ninjas” corrected The Gorilla “Things sort of got out of hand. We did try to clean it but it doesn’t seem to want to come off”
The tiles were covered with smears of black ink and I had stepped in one with my new shoes. I was livid. It did get cleaned in the end and I am glad I wasn’t there to see the janitors face when he saw it. I don’t know what they cleaned it with as the floors have been well, not to put a finer point on it, squeaking for days afterwards giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “squeaky clean”. The only person whose footwear was completely unsullied by the gunk was Fancypants who by passed every splodge with the dexterity of a panther and reached the doorway looking well pleased.
“They are Gucci” he explained