Tag Archives: teenager

1622. A study in ennui

It certainly produces ennui when stuck inside on a rainy day. In fact, Syd had stayed in bed with the curtains drawn. The only thing that would happen if he got up would be to have breakfast before discovering that there was “nothing to do”. He wasn’t allowed much time on his phone, he wasn’t allowed much time watching videos, he wasn’t allowed much time on his computer, he wasn’t allowed much time doing sweet nothing. And now his parents were telling him to “go look for a summer job during the holiday time.” His parents sucked. The world sucked. It was hosing down outside. He might as well stay in bed. So he did.

When his father came home around one in the afternoon he went into Syd’s room and said “Get out of bed you lazy sod and do something useful.” Syd saw red and leapt out of bed and he and his father had a shouting match. Syd threw on some clothes and stormed out of the house.

What Syd’s father then said to Syd’s mother shouldn’t necessarily appear here unedited. But he swore that their next two sons would have their teenage years circumvented and they’d go from age eleven to twenty-two in one go. It’s a wonder the falling rain outside didn’t steam and hiss and evaporate once it hit the roof of the Maddock household. Syd’s father mowed the lawn in the rain he was so fed up to the back teeth. Then he tidied the garage. Then he fixed the broken cupboard door handle in the kitchen.

When dinner time came Syd came home and everything was normal.

1610. Would you like a chip?

(Today’s story is a true incident that happened to a school friend 53 years ago).

Tony was waiting for a bus just outside the gates of Parliament. (This is long before the days when life was complicated). He’d been to town, from boarding school, to see the dentist. As all teenage boys find, he was hungry and so he had bought some fish and chips. For those not in the know, fish and chips are French fries and a piece of fish fried in batter. All is wrapped in newspaper. (This is long before the days when printer’s ink rubbed off).

There was only one other person sitting in the bus stop waiting. He was an old man, and Tony felt a bit sorry for him.

“Would you like a chip?” asked Tony, offering the goodies wrapped in newspaper. The old man accepted gratefully.

“Do you work?” asked Tony.

“Occasionally,” said the old man. “I work over there.” He pointed to Parliament buildings. “But I’m not on the permanent staff. I’m only a temporary worker.”

Tony offered him another chip.

The next morning’s newspaper reported that the Prime Minister reckoned he would’ve preferred a piece of fish.

1522: Secret code

Ms Evelyn Zimmermann was frothing at the mouth. She was spitting tacks. Ms Zimmermann had spent two and a half months working out a complex, secret code. She would use it with her teenage literature class. They would decipher the code over a period of several weeks. She would help them bit by bit; a hint here and a hint there. The overriding question to answer was: What poem is hidden in the code? How exciting is that?

Ms Evelyn Zimmermann handed out the beautifully printed sheets. She had taken such care; the manuscripts were almost gilded. “This,” said Ms Zimmermann, “is the poem in code that together we shall decipher over the coming weeks.”

Willie Barros put up his hand. “The poem is obviously Tintern Abbey by William Wordsworth.”

Ms Evelyn Zimmermann was shocked beyond belief. She was thunderstruck. She was gobsmacked. Months of planning and several weeks of planned pedagogy had gone down the gurgler in seconds. To make matters worse, she would have to give the upstart student a high mark for his know-all insolence. She’d never liked him. He was one of those nerdy students – a goody-two-shoes with no personality. He had pimples and absolutely no dress sense. He was one of those completely yucky adolescent boys whose half broken voice squawked up and down like a clucky chicken.

“That’s very clever of you, Willie,” said Ms Zimmermann sweetly. “How did you know that?”

Willie Barros explained the code in detail. “The answer just came to me, almost without thinking,” he said. He was particularly pleased with himself, although he didn’t say so, because Ms Zimmermann was always nasty to him, although she pretended to be kind. In fact, at times she was downright cruel. Tyrannical even. She preferred the better-looking students.

That’s why, over the last few months, Willie Barros had hacked into her computer and knew everything there was to know.