Tag Archives: teens

1700. The hand we’re dealt

Look at that! 1700 is a round number if ever there was one! Usually for such a significant number I deviate into some true narrative or other. This time I’ve hit a complete blank. I don’t believe in “writer’s block” but I must admit that these last ten or so postings have been like trying to get blood out of a stone. I wanted to get to Story 1700 before Christmas and then have some time off until sometime in the New Year. And so I’ve drawn a blank. Let me think…

Well I’ve thought of something… but I don’t know if I should chat about it or not. Counting up it happened 33 years ago!

The photo incidentally is not of what I am going to talk about – it’s of another group unknown to me, but it gives the general drift.

I dare say those involved have long since moved on. I was teaching Music and English at St John’s High School in Hastings, New Zealand. Hastings had a pretty “varied” population. St John’s High School was a boys-only school and the only High School in the city that would accept students who had been expelled from other schools and couldn’t find another school to attend. That’s how I ended up teaching a class of 24, 14 of whom had a “history”. They were all aged 14. Montzie, for example, had a criminal record since the age of six.

The school didn’t have a great number of resources. My classroom was an old shed set apart from all other classrooms and in the middle of a field. We called the shed “The Shack”. The record player and all the stuff for music were in The Shack. The trouble was: The Shack couldn’t be locked. I told the class that if anything was ever stolen from this shack I’d “have their guts for garters”. (I also had to explain what garters were).

“Don’t worry,” they said, “we’d never steal from you.” We were the only school Music Department in the whole city that hadn’t had all its electronic equipment go missing. And then it happened. One night, the classroom was stripped. The policeman was very nice about it. He took notes and said he’d keep an eye out. That wasn’t good enough for Montzie and friends. Did not the policeman want to know the names of those who took the stuff? Did not the policeman want to know the place in the city where these thieves stored their stolen goods? The policeman was kind of stunned!

With such information it still took six months for the police to act. In the meantime insurance paid for new equipment and when our goods were returned we had two of everything. And Reuben, a master of the “five-finger discount”, would most days bring five or six long-playing records that he’d “got from the shops during lunch break” to replace the records stolen. I explained it was wrong. It was above his comprehension. He was helping out. (And I might add that not even the shops wanted to know because the packaging had been removed).

Many other things happened during the year which can wait another time, except to say I am a master pickpocketer; for they passed on skills you wouldn’t believe. I was never party to their activity, but they were surviving in the only world they knew.

The highlight came when I was selected (because I was pretty good at it) to represent New Zealand at an International Youth Theatre Festival – with theatre performances from Germany, England, India, South Korea, Australia, United States and New Zealand. It was inordinately expensive to get a theatre team to the festival and to survive a week. That is when I started to write little musicals for elementary schools and market them. Within two easy weeks, we had enough money to travel. I suggested we do a performance about New Zealand’s many endangered species. And would you believe? The class wanted to dance it, and from all the five-finger discount stolen records to dance to they chose extracts from Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” and Ravel’s “Daphnis et Chloé”. At least I’d taught them something!

It was street-dancing. They did the choreography themselves. It was an outstanding hit! The boys were so well behaved and more charming than I could believe. At the end of the performance the audience didn’t clap; they stood and sang a song they all knew. It was very moving. The newspaper reviews were stunning.

I dare say these kids would be heading for their mid-forties now. Those who aren’t dead are possibly in prison. I know a couple have done murders and some are destroyed by drugs. A teacher can’t keep in touch with everyone.

But they were one of the nicest and most talented group of kids I’ve ever taught. A pity they weren’t dealt much of a hand.

(A Happy Christmas and New Year to all! See you some time in 2020!)

1644. Clown loaches

Danny was upset. His teenage son was having a party and a group of drunken youths were having bets as to who would swallow a clown loach. So far three of Danny’s four loaches in his tropical aquarium had been swallowed.

Danny enjoyed his aquarium. It was a hobby. He had the aquarium in the sitting room where all could enjoy it watching the fish. He knew it was a silly thing to try to tell seven drunken teens not to swallow another loach. They swore at him and one started to chase the remaining clown loach around and around in the aquarium with a pocket knife.

Danny stepped in. A youth pushed the aquarium over and glass shattered everywhere. Water drenched the carpet. Everyone laughed hysterically, until they realized that the guy who had pushed the aquarium over has cut his arm rather badly. Danny had to quickly bandage the arm and call for an ambulance.

It was all a waste of time anyway. The youth died in the ambulance. Some sort of bacterial poisoning from the gut of the fish.

1432. Rampant teens

Percy Ellis and Gilbert Eichstaedt were two sixteen year olds who had let their hormones go rampant. In the area was a tower that enabled cell phone coverage for the forty or so houses in the rural valley that couldn’t connect to the phone satellite. The tower relayed a connection. The locals relied on the tower for communication with the outside world both for internet and phone.

Percy and Gilbert got in a jeep, and driving up a bumpy farm track reached the tower. They were messing around and then Percy cut some wires on the tower “because they were there” and the forty or so houses were plunged into no coverage.

Mr Eddie Edwards lived in a farm house near the tower. It was a good thirty minute stroll to the tower. He set out on foot, for it was a lovely day, to see why there was no coverage. When he reached the tower he saw the cut wires. Then he heard voices calling for help.

Percy and Gilbert had driven their jeep over a bank and the vehicle was perched precariously on the edge of a cliff, rocking, with the two inside.

“Help! Help! Phone for help!” they cried when they saw Mr Eddie Edwards looking down from the top of the bank.

Mr Eddie Edwards strolled the thirty minute walk back to his house. He put on the kettle to make a nice cup of tea.

Poem 49: Bike shed

(The poetic form selected for this week is the madrigal. There is some discussion as to whether Fa la la in a song has furtive insinuating overtones. Apparently the Christmas carol, “Deck the Halls”, had its words cleaned up early nineteenth century!)

Jack was all of seventeen
and Judy much the same.
They went behind the school’s bike shed.
Fa la la la la la la la la!

They kissed each other on the lips
and Judy said I love you.
They kissed again. Jack’s shirt was shed.
Fa la la la la la la la la!

Meanwhile Jane among the bikes
had Andy pledge his love;
that could be us behind the shed.
Fa la la la la la la la la!

A teacher chanced upon the pair,
Jane in Andy’s arms.
At once! At once! Forsake the shed!
Fa la la la la la la la la!

Jane and Andy got detention,
Jack went his merry way.
Judy stayed away from school

for months.
Fa la la la la la la la la!

1049. New word for the day

Ok class just settle down and keep quiet for once. It’s time for us to look at “the new word for the day”. DAVID SMITH, SIT DOWN! It’s time for us to look at the “new word for the day”. Who threw that paper dart? Ok. Keep quiet. I SAID KEEP QUIET! Class will you shut up. Get your books out!

You’re all behaving like a typical class of fourteen year olds. Why am I not surprised? Get you books out and shut up.

Andrew Jones , you’re on detention after school.

Ok. Just leave him alone; leave him alone, Nigel Green. It’s time for us to look at the “new word for the day”. Ok. SHUT UP! SHUT UP! YOU’RE GETTING OUT OF CONTROL!

The new word for the day is MASTIGOPHOBIA!

Ok. That’s better. Silence at last.

787. Tigers for punishment

787tigers

It was a fairly sunny day. Bruce, retiree, thought he’d sit on his veranda and have lunch. No one had phoned. No visitors had called in. He was on his own, so why not make lunch special and sit on the veranda and enjoy the sunshine?

But who is this coming through the gate? Three young guys, gangly teenagers, probably from the local high school. But they weren’t dressed for school; they were wearing work clothes.

“Good afternoon, sir,” they said.

“Goodness! Is it afternoon already?” How Bruce hated being called Sir. It made him feel old. It made him feel overbearingly authoritative.

“We’ve been bad boys at school,” said one of the lads. “The principal’s sent us out to do an hour of community work. Have you got any jobs?”

“You can mow my lawns,” said Bruce. Their faces dropped. “Don’t worry. It’s a ride on.”

The three young guys had the time of their lives; out of the classroom, working in the sun, driving the lawn mower, wielding the weed-eater, rotary-hoeing the garden, water-blasting the mossy paths… They were there for three hours. They loved it.

“You’ve made our day, sir,” they said. “It’s better than school. Can we come back?”

Bruce had supplied them with cold drinks throughout the afternoon.

(And I might add, they ate all of my birthday cake too. Finished it off in no time.)

783. The Robinson Family eats

783robinson

The Robinson family didn’t sit down together for a meal very often. Occasionally, Elizabeth Robinson would insist her husband and their four sons come together and share a meal “like proper people”.

There was Bill. He was the Dad. Dad was in charge. Someone has to be in charge when you have four sons all in their teens.

Fritz was the oldest boy. He was nineteen, and rarely home. He was either working at the factory or out with his girlfriend. Occasionally he would doss down at home. Today he was gulping down his food because he was in a hurry. “Don’t be in such a hurry,” said his father. “It’s not often we get to sit down as a family.”

Ernest was the second son. He was seventeen. He was an apprentice mechanic. He didn’t have a steady girlfriend but was usually either dog-tired after a day’s work or doing the party thing. Today he was gulping down his food because he was in a hurry. “Don’t be in such a hurry,” said his father. “Chew your food properly.”

Then there was Jack. Jack was fifteen and still at school. He was very studious. He was hoping to be an industrial chemist of some sort when he grew up; or maybe some kind of forensic scientist. Today he was eating his food slowly, chewing each mouthful like he was deep in thought. “Hurry up with your food,” said his father. “We don’t want to be here all day.”

The youngest was Franz. He was a bit of a mummy’s-boy. He liked staying home, and was addicted to his computer. Today he was gulping down his food because he was in a hurry to get back to a computer game. “Slow down!” said his father.

“Why?” asked Franz.

“If you’re going to masticate,” said his father, “masticate properly.”

Franz went a deep purple. His three brothers hooted with laughter.