Sunday, 20 July 2008

Back to the real world, alas.

My pleasant two-week sojourn in the backwaters of British education is over for another year. Every year about this time schools up and down the land discover that they have basically finished the syllabus and have more reports to write than can comfortably be managed while managing a class of screaming, hyperactive monkeys, making it an ideal juncture to bring in an outside tutor to run some workshops. And so it is that I am invited in to introduce said hyperactive monkeys to the delights of Javanese gamelan.

Although a standing bet with No Good Boyo compels me to refer to them as monkeys, I do have to say - to the chagrin of Daily Mail readers everywhere - that the vast majority of today's yoof are in fact pleasant, well-mannered (if talkative) young people who show a a keen and intelligent interest in things. You just have to know how to talk to them. Or failing that, pick a subject such as gamelan which means that whenever you go into a school you have a large array of hammers immediately to hand.

The exception is Year 9, or what in old money was called 'third formers'. These are 13-14 year olds, wallowing in the first wash of strange hormones and convinced that street-cred involves sniggering, refusing to answer questions and being sulky. "Attichood" is everything, and can be accurately gauged at a glance by the amount of time spent on the haircut. The more gel, dye, sticky-up bits and razored designs involved, the less cooperative will be the tiny brain rattling about inside. Girls with long plaits or boys with tousled fringes are never a problem, for some reason.

I propose that this should be used as the basis of a new stop-and-search initiative by the police. Better still, march all the hairdressers off to re-education camps to be taught more useful skills. Sheep-shearing, perhaps. Although doubtless a few months down the line there will be the first reports of delinquent sheep with gel in their wool terrorising old-age pensioners. You read it here first. I think I need to go and take one of the blue tablets now. No wonder teachers are all so twitchy...


No Good Boyo said...

"All hairdressers are in the employment of the government. Hair are your aerials. They pick up signals from the Cosmos and trasmit them directly into the brain. This is the reason all bald-headed men are uptight."

Danny the Headhunter, Withnail & I, about 2:44 into this clip.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Can you really play the gamelan?? Is that why you went to Indonesia for that first time when you said you were on a concert trip? (I wanted to know but forgot to ask.)

Do you have to stop these 13-14 year olds trying to play Smoke On The Water* on your Gamelan?

*OK, there's probably a 21st century equivalent to Deep Purple's easy-peasy classic, but I've no idea what it is!

M C Ward said...

The more dye in the hair, the more sexually available, at least at my comprehensive.

I should never have had those Simon Le Bon highlights cicra 1984.

I think you're onto something here. Or not, as the case may be.

Gyppo Byard said...

Mr Dilo - Indeed I can; the story of how I came to do that is the subject for another post at some juncture, suffice it to say that my initial visit to Indonesia was a concert tour singing Western music and my first, life-changing encounter with gamelan took place entirely by accident during a break in rehearsals. 'Smoke on the Water' is tricky in slendro tuning because of the lack of semitones; Led Zep's 'Whole Lotta Love' and Fleetwood Mac's 'Oh Well' sit far better. As does 'Bohemian Like You' by the Dandy Warhols, which is something with which the younger types are more familiar.

Mr Ward - even highlights couldn't have helped me. You may be right, although that surely is another reason to ban hairdressers, since doing so would have a welcome impact on rates of teen pregnancy and STDs.

Although having said that, when my teenage hormones were raging a pig in a skirt would have piqued my interest. And I went to a comp in the West Midlands, where such a sight would have been a marked improvement over some of the talen on offer...