Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Skipping To The Digital Age

Like many professions these days, teachers have little time to take proper lunch breaks. Working in a secondary school, classic playground games like British Bulldog and Kiss Chase are a rare sight and thankfully I've never had to tempt fate by doing an outdoor break duty.

At two recent weddings, I spotted something amusing and perhaps a little disturbing. Left to their own devices, shying away from boring grown-up stuff, groups of kids were overheard discussing the new interactive time-passer. "No I'm being the zombie," they animatedly argued, before chasing each other around a nearby field. I immediately wondered what was influencing such young kids' "innocent" play and looked to the excellent HBO series, The Walking Dead - something the troubled young man I work with in a certain London school is monotonously obsessed with, giving painfully long blow-by-blow accounts of scenes I've already watched.

In the past there's been an awful lot of talk of "copycat crime" and the finger of blame has been boldly pointed at a variety of films, computer games and TV shows but what of "copycat play"? As a young'un, I remember making do with Conkers, Hopscotch, Cat's Cradle, Sleeping Lions, Chain Tag, Stuck In The Mud and What's The Time Mr Wolf? And of course repeatedly tripping over giant skipping ropes!

I guess the classic pairings of cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians and mummies and daddies have always been around. It seems zombies and humans are the new modern 21st Century pairing of this "digital age". The irony of course lying in how oblivious tomorrow's generation are to the bleakness of this new playground craze. But then again, at that age who really wants to be a mummy or daddy either?

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Oh How The Mind Expands

The saying goes “you learn something new every day” and this week this actually rings true. Having to teach an array of subjects of course means I'm constantly learning and re-learning a variety of academic disciplines but this week I've been exposed to and stumbled across a whole array of weird and not-too-wonderful new words and concepts.

My week begins with a student declaring the unheard of. One lunch a young lady of average build confesses she likes it when she's fat. I'm then bowled over by an exceedingly troubled pupil actively wanting to learn about long division, even when given a choice of subjects.

Being in close proximity to the same students every day, they're unknowingly teaching me their lingo. I always used to relish learning new words but no longer being in school on a regular basis means I'm not exposed to kid-speak. I'm particularly taken with a combination of words meaning really rude - “bare basty”.

The linguist and geek inside forces me to look up both words and a strange exceedingly overused utterance, “dang”:




Later, sharing my findings over an Orange Wednesdays pizza, the conversation somehow strays to disturbing inventions and I'm reminded of "P-Mate" - "the quick, clean, leak-proof and discreet solution for women on the go":

and introduced to the rather disturbing, "Menstrual Cup", apparently "the most modern intimate hygiene product for ladies" and “regardful of the environment“ with a lifetime of up to 15 years, if maintained correctly. This baby creates a "happy, healthy [private] place":

While the latter horrifies me, P-Mate is vaguely familiar from festival speak and elicits fond memories of the legendary "dick pants" once discovered in a novelty gift Christmas catalogue free with a newspaper. Although P-Mate may not be a faux-latex penis-pants combo allowing females to wee standing up, it's a step in the right direction and the least worrying of this week's discoveries.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The Ironic Pervert!

It's a normal coach journey from London to Leeds or so I think. I'm armed with two film screeners to pass the time – one I requested and one that I think randomly arrived. Having looked at IMDB's film rating for “Pervert!” I'm not desperate to watch and review it but as I now have it anyway, I decide I may as well watch it (some clever marketing by Arrow Films there).

A few minutes into the film and I soon realise it's perhaps not the most suitable thing to be watching on a coach. I'd been expecting a smutty B movie horror but this is practically soft porn. I decide it's too late to go back now and as the film's only an hour twenty I may as well battle through. I'm aware throughout the film that the guy sitting next to me is also watching but unlike me, he has no sound so can only see an awful lot of boobs and sex.

The film's finished and I quickly eject and put the next screener in while my laptop battery has power. This is “Dancing At The Blue Iguana”, a film about the intertwining lives of six “exotic” dancers. As it has a pretty reasonable cast, I'm expecting an actual film with a plot that doesn't merely seek to titillate which thankfully rings true but there's again an unfortunate amount of boobage on show. I can't help but wonder what the guy next to me thinks of me and feel slightly embarrassed.

My battery dies twenty minutes before the end of the film and as I remove my headphones the guy next to me says, “It's difficult on here.” I presume he's talking about the tropical temperature, lack of working fans and the stench coming from the toilet. I agree with him but he again repeats “It's difficult on here” and then says “How can you keep watching all that?” At first I'm a little confused, thinking he means how can I watch something continually for so long but then it dawns on me – he means all the boobs. I laugh and explain I'm watching screeners, before asking him if he means the nudity. He says it's difficult watching and asks what I think of the boobs. I tell him they're merely boobs and he proceeds to tell me “There's so much liquid coming out of my penis”.

Shocked and unsure how to proceed, I desperately try not to snigger and pretend I didn't hear him and get out a newspaper – he's had a newspaper laid over him like a blanket for the last few hours and it's still there. He asks me if I watch lots of these type of films and I again try to explain that they are screeners and despite appearances, aren't straight-up porn. He asks if I've seen an Indian film with boobs and I try to steer the conversation away by talking about Bollywood but he suddenly asks if he can touch my boob. I tell him that's entirely inappropriate and look down at my paper but moments later he's again begging for a quick touch and telling me “they're so nice and white”. Clearly realising I'm not going to concede, he tries another tact and asks if I will show my boobs to him, actually expecting me to lift up my t-shirt and bra on a National Express coach and reveal my disappointing half eye-full.

As a coping mechanism I'm desperately counting down the minutes until my arrival. I know I have about 25 so should just try to sit out his grossly inappropriate remarks rather than trying to find another seat on this already exceedingly full coach. I keep feeling him getting nearer to me and feel him trying to graze the side of my right boob so firmly cross my arms. He's asking me what he should do when he gets home because he doesn't have a girlfriend and I'm tempted to tell him I know why he's single but instead say, “You're a guy, I'm sure you'll manage.” I feel his hand on my knee and quickly fling it away saying “no”.

The minutes are ticking and I'm having flashbacks to a similar incident that happened in Malaysia. I try to concentrate on my newspaper but can feel him watching me and through the welcomed but tense silence I wonder whether he's realised how inappropriate he has been but then he suddenly says “Half an hour left” as if he's merely been politely bantering with me for the last half hour. I'm relieved he's over-estimated the remaining journey time and quickly grab my stuff on arrival.

As he says “Perhaps see you around”, I hope I never do. I make eye-contact with the man-woman in the seat in front and wonder whether I've unknowingly entered a League of Gentleman episode. S/he must have heard some of our “conversation” but I can't tell whether his/her knowing look relates to the horrific coach conditions or the uncomfortable situation I have just been in.

Getting off the coach I'm relieved my travel buddy is going on to Bradford so safely contained. I can't help but inwardly smirk at how wrong I got it. I'd been worried he'd think I was some kind of pervert when in actuality he turned out to be a perfect example of one. If you ever want to put male passengers to the test, it would seem all you need to do is watch something racy. And to top it off, it turns out I actually absent-mindedly requested Pervert!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

The Unpredictably Wedged Wedges

At a wedding this weekend my female paranoia and over-preparedness was actually pretty beneficial. Walking from the car to the blessing service, I made it only half-way before one leg suddenly rather dramatically sunk to the ground. Frequently used to suffering from gimp leg and an ability to fall over on even surfaces in flat shoes, I thought nothing of it until I stepped forward and realised half my shoe was missing.

Carefully reaching backwards it appeared a substantial portion of my wedge had just fallen away.

I was now left to awkwardly shuffle forward on the remaining section of the shoe back to the car where the shoes I'd originally planned on wearing were safely tucked away.

After slow progress towards the car, sitting in the passenger seat I was finally able to more closely examine the damage and establish that both shoes seemed to suddenly be as equally knackered.

It seemed I was destined to wear the shoes The Boy had sidelined and on this occasion I felt immensely glad I'm generally an over-cautious packer. Unfortunately I didn't factor in the cold Peak District nights and although I may have managed to look the part by day, by night I was mitchelined up in an array of multi-coloured clashing layers and still shivering.

I'm just glad we drove to the service from the guest house, rather than walking or I might have been shoeless all day. Still, I'm now able to get rid of one of the many pairs of shoes I own and don't need without too much heartache - a bulky pair at that!

RIP charity shop bargain shoes.