8 March 2010

The incongruous allure of hedonism in middle age.

So indeed this very morn I involuntarily decided that I wasn’t going to be enjoying myself much this weekend. 


No real rhyme or reason; it just felt like the right thing to do. I was “off” exhibiting the behaviour I always try to resist and that is to withdraw from people and not engage; oh how strange people behave sometimes; becoming attached to things that don’t really matter.


I have to work very hard to care; it doesn’t come naturally. I have problems exhibiting the behaviour of “meaningful gestures,” such as waving to greet, but especially doing the round robin thing to say goodbye. For some reason I get very anxious when people who I have arranged to meet don’t come at the proper time - that’s the last time I’m mentioning it Si ;-). Add a failure to smile, laugh, or make eye contact “on demand” I just think to myself why do I have to do that? Is because others do it and I have to do it to appear like them?


Although, as I recall, I was a bit depressed about various things going on in my life so you could say I was having a mull, having some processing time, deciding what to do, how to act; being reflective. For this to happen I would need as much withdrawal from social activity as is humanly possible; a rather impossible feat for a man who has, actually, a very full dance card for the coming weekend.


I think the first thing was work. Trying to indentify, connect, interact, inspire, engage, call it what you will, with a classroom full of stroppy, sleepless, stoned, energy-drinked and sugared up, disenfranchised teenagers is, at the best of times difficult but rewarding and at the worst of times, deeply demoralising and mentally draining.


I am not a violent person by any means and indeed have practiced the fine art of pacifism since my early teens when I got very drunk and angry with one of my friends called Peter Greenland (now teaching golf in San Francisco) and punched him on the nose in a vaguely inarticulate attempt to communicate the ongoing horrors and my inability to deal with the insufferable angst of teenage-hood. My particular over aware adolescent development somewhat clashing with his rather piss takingly superior attitude at the time. I have deeply regretted it ever since and resolved never to ever hit another human being ever again.


Now in my late forties I am reviewing that moral philosophy sometimes on a daily basis. Let’s just say that I had a particularly bad week with one particular student who had been “thrown out”, expelled, excluded, call it what you will no more than 40 times during his school “career”. Asking the others in the class if they had ever been excluded for any reason they all, one by one, said yes. I was trying to manage a class of 10 of these disruptive students on my own. The resulting trauma led to serious questions being asked by myself to myself about my suitability for such a role and I subsequently rhuminated whether or not all Jake Salt needed was a decent slapping. To see him tear up his portfolio in from of my eyes was the last straw; the shutters came down and have stayed down ever since. Oh well, one more teacher looking to get out of the profession? At least this week anyway?


Later in the week my girlfriend decided to announce, after I may have mentioned in passing that “our sex life was shit”, that we would not be sleeping together again as I didn’t make as much of an effort as she required to make her have an orgasm. 


I had to agree with her somewhat harsh judgement that indeed despite a 15 hour sex session that Saturday fuelled by the ever so cheap and effective amphetamine sulphate, that it failed at every stage to engender the required conclusion and if ever you find your good self with a Rabbit in your hand, the batteries having run out, and the muscles in your arm aching so much, despite swapping them over every two minutes, that you have to ask your partner whether or not she would mind carrying on for a few minutes while you have rest, you can see the inevitably of the somewhat messy and argumentative conclusion unfold before your very eyes.


She muttered during the dirty talk that she imagined me walking along the street with my cock hanging out and then encouraged me to carry on and talk a bit dirtily in the same vein to enhance any possible likelihood that this might work towards achieving the desired conclusion.


Now, I am a reluctant “sexy beast” at the best of times previously having spent 17 years with a sexual partner who had serious sexual issues as she had been gang raped as a teenager and whose ex boyfriend before me had, in her words, “a massive penis”, which he used to thrust into her at every given opportunity regardless of whether she wanted him to do it or not. She did not like the full on approach and preferred a gentler, kinder approach much beloved of the 17th and 18th century romantic writers whom she adored. Or not. Despite months of sex therapy at the time as a couple she failed to mention this elephant in the room once to the counsellor. She also had an affair with the tVC lighting engineer or junkie sexual opportunist as I called him, so she couldn’t have been that fucked up sexually. Maybe it was me?


Anyway, so there I am; I’m walking down the street with my cock hanging out; in the spoken word dirty talk fantasy I am trying to communicate to you at the moment that is, not in real life. I valiantly try and do manage a few articulate, if dirty, paragraphs and they seem to be working very well as I can see her excitement level rising somewhat, the rabbit is “chucking” and “thocking” away in a manner I assume is satisfactory to the recipient. I pause. “Carry on...” she says. “Ok...and then I walk into Tesco’s...” I say. She abruptly stops dead in her tracks. “That’s it! You’ve spoilt it now” she says and everything grinds to a somewhat anti climatic halt and I am subsequently, to my inevitable chagrin, “fired”. We are no longer sleeping together. Although saying that I presumed “sleeping together” meant sleeping together as that very same evening we settle down in bed and cuddle up before a solid nights sleep. All the previous escapades somehow forgotten.


This week at work Ofsted were in inspecting our college; we got a 3; which is satisfactory. I say that whole episode in quite a small sentence but the fucking grief we had for weeks before from a shitting it management was indeed a hilarious sight to behold. It was beloved of a great episode of “The Office” but in real life, which incidentally is in 3D and so much more interactive.


On the actual day of the inspection I had what we euphemistically call “the bad boy” group. It was my job to keep them in a classroom and quietly engaged whilst the inspector was diverted to the best room with the best teacher and with the best class so she could see how brilliant we were working with such a challenging group of young hoodies, sorry, people. Other acronyms used by staff*, not me I hasten to add as I am as understanding and as patient as a saint on Prozac and beta-blockers, are FLT or fucking little twat; UTD up the duff; NAGS or needs a good slapping; CBI or challenging behavioural issues and VLS or violent little shit. What with the mix of exclusions, behavioural orders, ASBO’s, curfews, pending court cases, unemployment, homelessness, drug and drink habits, post prison nihilism, gang violence, anger, hatred, poor parenting, social deprivation, ADHD, ADD, autism, aspersers, dyscalculia, dyslexia, tourettes, PTSD (that’s the staff) and really bad tattoos that are exhibited in, on or through the students, it is no wonder that feeling of pounding ones head against a rough wall exhibits approximately the same feelings that teaching this lot does.


In various degrees they have the acute knack of displaying all the “*.isms”, sexism, gingerism, racism, fatism etc in a constant stream of foul mouthed, repetitive and constant abuse and I seriously wonder why, sometimes, after a bad week, I end up crying in the corner of my classroom in the foetal position rocking softly back and forwards plaintively asking over and over again “where’s my mummy?” and consider this a good career move. Oh, the irony.


Also perturbing me somewhat was the conclusion of my 3 month on eye operation check up. The reattachment of my wayward retinal detachment didn’t work. Which means another operation and another long wait before I can see Avatar in 3D? Luckily the start of new series of Heroes, Mad Men, TV Burp, Lost, Being Human and Skins, as well as great new shows like Nurse Jackie, The Good Wife, Caprica and The Vampire Diaries went somewhat towards assuaging my continued appreciation and dependence upon 2D TV content. Alas my ever increasing book mountain will remain slowly unread for some time come.


On Friday off to see my chum Lin who was moving into her latest abode and celebrating this long fought for achievement in the tried and tested way of drinking champagne and toasting the health and future prosperity of said inhabitants. I forgot about all my woes and despatched the “poor me” section of my personality off into another part of my brain and lived in the moment enjoying the rather pleasant company and lively chat the assembled co-congratulators generated somewhat spontaneously. We were all very happy indeed.


Neil Lawson was 50 on Friday; or rather he hit his “very late forties” as he so succinctly put it. A great time was had by one and all and despite a promise to myself that I wasn’t going to enjoy it and was going to hang around for an hour or two then head off home around midnight I only looked at my watch when I began to feel tired which was 4.30am. There goes that living the moment thing again; time moves so much more quickly when you’re not aware that you’re supposed to be miserable. The moment sort of takes all your brain thought, the focus of attention, and directs it towards interacting with stimulus in your immediate environment rather than on shit you’re trying to create in your head. Marvellously therapeutic.


Sitting there on the sofa, smoking, drinking, watching the people play in the living room, listening to cheesy pop music from the 70’s, 80’s or whatever talking to Bin, waiting for my turn on the decks. She said she was ever so sorry she hadn’t invited me to her wedding which had taken place a few months before. I made some sarcastic comment about it being alright; she was only one of the first people I met when I first moved to Canterbury and had know her well over 20 years; despite the fact I was a little hurt, now she mentions it. I had thought that, for the usual reasons such as wanting close friends and family in the tiny church she couldn’t invite some of her periphery friends such as my good self. Also, at the time, when other mutual friends asked if I’d had an invite I had to say no I had not which generated some puzzling looks from both them and myself.


“Oh no, it wasn’t that” she said. “There was plenty of room in the Church and all that, I didn’t invite you because we’d slept together in the past. I couldn’t invite ex sexual partners to my wedding now could I?”


“But Bin,” I hastened to point out, “we’ve never slept with each other. We’ve never fucked at all. Yes, I’ve known you a long time but, you know, we have never had a sexual liaison. I thought we were friends?”


“Oh, have we not? We’ve had a cuddle though? Now, I’m even sorrier I didn’t invite you to the wedding.”


The DJ changes once, twice, three times; the music doesn’t. Rick called me and Si snobs because we like house and tech music. The general anti house vibe from him was fairly blatant but we rode it and waited. Finally Rick, Tom and Izzi decide they have had enough of playing their scratchy old 7" records and the tVC phat/fat boys get their turn to play for birthday boy Neil. I had been asked to dance to one or two of the other DJ’s choices but I just cannot bring myself to have to heart or energy to ever dance to a tune like “Club Tropicana” ever again having danced to it, literally, a thousand times before at a thousand weddings in the past; although Izzi’s hand gestures that she performed along with the chorus did make smile. Rick of course, “the man with no taste” (that wasn’t a snobby comment was it?), loved it immensely. Rick had “mentioned” on several occasions prior to the party how he didn’t want a “big fuck off party like last time” where “all the neighbours complained” so I brought the small wedge and a 550W amp to allay any ungrounded fears that the house would end up as some house monsters ball; hence the playing down of all eagerness on our part to get on the decks. In the morning Rick says that he saw the small wedge and thought that isn’t going to be enough “speaker” for the party but actually it was. It certainly stopped the other DJ’s from cranking it up too high even when they tried too; that was indeed a mixed blessing I was grateful for on at least two occasions.


It was OK. We played a few hours, airing our dirty house laundry in public, two’s up style, every mix a snorter, natch; every tune cherished, loved and discussed and dissected. Just like the retro DJ’s cherished theirs no doubt? The dance floor filled with smiles and we all had a nice little chug; us DJ’s sidestepping the odd sniping comment and request for Abba with nary a smile. At around 4.30am the music went off and the muso’s brought out their instruments and had a lovely little jam till sunrise. Nice.


A few days later my girlfriend has an appointment in Canterbury for 9am and “must” leave the house by 8.15am. She freaks and panics from the night before about getting there on time; I reassure and coax, calming. She enjoys her freak; it motivates her and who am I to argue? It’s 8.10.


“I must go”, she says.


“Let me walk with you to our cars?” I suggest. She strides off ahead out the door and up the path. I rush to put my coat on and scuttle up the path to catch up. “Hang on”, I shout. She doesn’t. I run faster in order to catch up. She scuttles faster. I catch. I overtake. I giggle. I think she giggles too but I was only imagining it.


An hour later, at work, I get a text; “childish behaviour” it says.


“Just what I was thinking”, I reply back.










*all made up and totally not true

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