Must try harder

Various memes go round on Facebook, in the way they used to on blogs, and one that’s been doing the rounds in the last week or two has trivial facts about oneself – from whether you have tattoos or piercings to whether you’ve ridden a horse or donated blood.  My daughter acknowledged that she’d never skipped school, which had a surprised reaction.  I left a comment “I did.”

Of course, everyone who knows me would be astonished at that, because you only have to look at me.  I’m clearly good.  In the squeaky clean sense, as well as gooood, that is.  But a friend and I used to stroll out quite regularly, if we had a free period, either to go for a walk or a drive, once I’d passed my test, and then I skipped school altogether once.

It was when I was at the High School I attended for one year, when i was 18.  I’d already got two A Levels at my previous school but it was rather rubbish, actually, and I couldn’t do the subjects I wanted to.  So I went to the other school to take French and Latin.  I was pretty taken aback to find that I was expected to take part in games lessons and play team games, which i’d been very glad to leave behind several years previously.  I utterly despised them, having no competitive instinct, little team spirit and loathing the whole favouritism culture of the thing anyway.  I skulked around at the back and did as little as possible, not caring if I were picked last because I didn’t want to be picked at all.  I can honestly say that, at neither school, was I ever given any encouragement or coaching to improve unless it was something I’d already shown an aptitude for.

One day, one of the dogs was due to be taken to the vet’s for an operation.  I can’t remember what, it wasn’t an emergency and had been booked for a week or two.  But my mother woke up with one of her crippling migraines and was unable to drive.  So I helpfully assured her that I could come back after the first lesson because I didn’t have anything that mattered then until the afternoon.

I could have asked leave to miss the lesson, of course, but there was a fairly high risk it would be refused.  And I wasn’t going to phone in sick because that would mean missing real lessons.  So I just walked out.  Unfortunately – and inexplicably – I was missed and, next lesson, the teacher took me to task.  So I explained – not the reason for not asking, I wasn’t that tactless, but about the vet and my mother being ill.  And the teacher snapped at me and told me not to make excuses.

“I’m not making excuses,” I answered reasonably, “I’m telling you the reason.”

I was a teacher’s quiet nightmare, I’m sure.  If I didn’t care, there was nothing you could do to make me.  But I usually kept so far in the background that quite a lot of them didn’t even know, or maybe they sensed it and left me alone.

Anyway, there were no repercussions.  What could she have done?  Detention wouldn’t have mattered as I could have read or done homework, and extra games would have hurt her more than me.  So she huffed and puffed a bit and let it go.

Though now I think about it, bunking off one lesson to do a good turn to someone isn’t the worst sort of rebellion, I suppose.  I’m sure I did far worse on occasion.  I’ll have to think about it.


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