I never liked secondary school much – except for the sports. I had to sit through all these classes without understanding a word; General Science, Mathematics, History, English Literature. I even had to learn Spanish for half a semester until they realized that Spanish was my first language and who needs to learn how to say everything the wrong way from a teacher who doesn’t know a cañon from a cannon.
Let’s face it; I only took Chemistry because Lucy-Sue was in the class. Lucy-Sue was no good at Chemistry either, so I figured I could make her feel better about it by commiserating with her. It didn’t work back then, and she told me to “shove it” and took off with Malcolm MacAnally who had “anal” in his name for a reason.
Anyway, as soon as I was allowed to I left school and got a job working for a builder. I liked that and he gave me an apprenticeship provided I went to night school and took Mathematics. Well, that Mathematics was different from the stuff they taught you at school. This Mathematics was about how much gasoline you needed to buy if you were going to run a generator that used so much blah blah blah when you were stuck out in the middle of nowhere. All that was interesting, and a lot more useful to me than x2=a2+b2 – which I never figured out what it meant.
These days I own the building company. I was invited by the local school to come and speak to the kids during their “Vocations Week”. I was to talk about being a builder. I did that, but they didn’t like the bit where I said that if you want to be a builder don’t waste your time trying to get an education higher than you need. They banned me from coming to speak again because of that. It was against “standards”.
Now they’re asking for donations for a new gymnasium. I thought about buying one for them (my kids go to that school) but my wife said they can “shove it”, so I’m doing that. Lucy-Sue is usually right. In the meantime, I seem to be employing every kid who has got kicked out of the school for “misbehaviour” of one sort or another. I find they’re the best workers and it doesn’t hurt to give them a chance.
Alva was one of those slightly past-middle-age rich people who lived alone and entertained themselves with every new gadget that came on the market. Her garden gate opened by remote control just by pressing a button on her diamond watch. The front and back doors to the house had locks with number pads. Her television on the wall could turn slightly to the left and right depending on where she was in the house. For example, if she was in the kitchen the television screen could turn slightly to the left. Gadget after gadget…
Alva had a large house which she shared with a lodger called Howard. Howard was a promising plumber. He had an apprenticeship. A practical hands-on job with some mathematics suited Howard down to the ground. Alva let him stay for a song. It was her way of helping someone young get a start in life. Of course, Howard the Plumber was as into gadgetry as Alva – and a handy gadget fixer as well!
“What I dislike most of all about modern things,” said Howard to Alva, “is having to remember all these different passwords and pin numbers.”
“Oh, I just use the same one for everything,” said Alva.
“That’s a good idea,” said Howard.
A week later, Howard had a brand new car, and Alva had no money in her bank account.
Simon hated school, and today was his last day at secondary school. Next week he would start his first job at the Industrial Park with an apprenticeship.
On the last day of school, the principal held an assembly. This was to call each leaving student individually to the stage in front of the whole school. He would shake their hand and wish them well. Simon was ready. He hated the principal.
Simon had a cream pie. He didn’t even try to hide it. It wasn’t a proper pie. It was simply whipped cream from a can sprayed into a silver foil dish.
The principal shook Simon’s hand. Simon turned to the audience and shouted, “This school sucks and you can all get stuffed.” He then pushed the cream pie into the principal’s face and left the stage (and the building).
Needless to say, Simon’s future at the school was no longer guaranteed!
That afternoon he got a letter from the workshop where he was to begin his apprenticeship: We seem to be missing a document. Would you mind supplying a written reference from your school?
My son has just won a Julliard Scholarship to study piano in New York. I paid for him to go to New York at the end of his studies as a vacation and as a reward for doing well at school. Then he comes home having gone to an audition unbeknown to me. Anyway, he gets a letter saying he’s been accepted for a piano course and won a scholarship.
I’m not happy about it. I’ve four sons. I hoped at least one of them would follow my footsteps and take over the family business. But instead he wants to be a piano player. There’s no future in that, I told him. There are only a dozen or so decent piano players around the world and it’s a dead cert he wouldn’t be one of them. I always wanted him to learn guitar. That way he could play at parties and stuff. Nothing would make me more prouder. People like it a lot more than piano.
I’ve always insisted my kids learn a trade first. That way, they’ve got something to fall back on. So I’ve fixed him up as an apprentice at the local car mechanic’s. I’ve always been interested in cars and stuff, and even though it’s not the family business, it would be handy having a mechanic in the family to fix any vehicle that breaks down in my transport industry.
I told him if he wants to do any of that queer music shit he can do it after he’s finished his apprenticeship. I’m not working my guts out so someone can play honkey-tonk all day. There are more important things to spend money on, because even though he got a scholarship it’s still bloody costly.
I’ve four sons, as I said, and four daughters. The girls are all married off now; what a job that was. But this is the fourth son that’s wanted to go off and do his own thing. They say kids break their parents’ hearts more often than not. Well I’m certainly getting my share of it.
This one’s the youngest of the eight and the only one left that will have anything to do with me. Kids these days are so ungrateful.