Tuesday, August 12, 2003

HUrrah for Pop Idol 2 - it's so bad it's gone to good and back to bad again. I always find the first few episodes to the best - because basically all we want to see is Simon Cowell crushing the dreams of deluded teens and their pushy parents. Each tear shed by an insulted hopeful is a drop of blood to an emotional vampire - and we're all guilty as charged! Even after one episode I want the "lacks confidence" Scottish boy with the attractive yet slightly elongated face to win. They've got me investing in the programme and it's only just begun.

Saw two films over the weekend that I've never seen before and had been meaning to watch for ages. Harold and Maude (an off-beat story of a relationship between a privileged 20 year old man and a nutty 79 year old woman). I love Ruth Gordon - she's got a unique way of talking and interacting that is both annoying and endearing. She was great in Rosemary's Baby (one of my other favourite films) as well. I also saw the film Kes - gritty northern kitchen sink dramas being something else I particularly like watching. What I found most disturbing about the film was its depiction of the school system - how cruel and arbitrary punishment was eked out, both by bullies and teachers. It reminded me very much of my own school - particularly the Physical Education lesson with the thick-as-shit, sadistic teacher.

I HATED school. But above all, I hated Games, PE, sports. I was always the boy to be picked last when teams were picked. I spent most of my time at school scheming of ways to get out of going (eventually I invented singing lessons for myself for 2 years and bunked off to my grandmother's where I drank cups of tea and listened to her and her friends gossiping). I used to feel sick to my stomach the night before a PE lesson, and would spend the whole of that day in a state of dazed depression. Looking back on it, sometimes the lessons were enjoyable - but mostly they consisted of standing around in the freezing cold, on a muddy pitch, avoiding the football. The worst period of all though was track sports. I was absolutely useless at throwing things - and it was always a humiliation when the teacher recorded the pitiful length that I had thrown a discus, javelin or shot putt. I was used to being top in everything else - but sports were something where I was most definitely bottom. And for some reason, academic success meant nothing in my school - there was no praise for doing well - only jeers from other pupils, or teachers who called me a swot in front of the rest of the class. I used to dread getting the results of tests because my name would always be called out first, as the highest score and then classmates would threaten to beat me up during the break.

Unsurprisingly, I was bullied unmercifully at school - particularly because teachers were often late or absent from lessons, allowing the class to run riot. During one lesson a bully hit me on the side of the face. Suddenly I couldn't hear anything, and the girls in the class started screaming because blood was pouring down my face. I said something dramatic like "You'll all be sorry now!" and went to the headmaster's office. There was an enquiry, forced apologies from the bullies and I got to change classes. The bullying stopped during my final year, but it left a stamp on my personality - I hate attention, particularly in groups. I hate power structures. I hate being seen to do well (as I associate it with a violent reaction from others). And most of all, I hate school. When I finally left, with the best GCSE results in my year, I felt that I'd achieved them in spite of my school rather than because of it. Kes was therefore a painful film to watch, bringing back some unpleasant memories that I'd rather leave buried.

No comments: