I wonder whatever happened to Wendy Jones.
I’d like to think she’s a success, juggling a high-profile job as a defence barrister with being a mother of two, but that can’t be right. She couldn’t work and keep little Julian and Jemimah home during the pandemic, with the primary schools shut and all. Kids are hardly affected by the virus, I don’t see why they can’t just reopen as normal, and if a few teachers keel over well I’m sorry but these rapists won’t get themselves off. That’s the trouble.
I fear a darker outcome for poor Wendy, and it’s all my fault. When we were six, I said something that made Richard Knightley laugh so hard some hideous bright green fluid started pouring from his nose, and Wendy’s horrified reaction was enough to see her join me in detention while Richard chuckled his way off to the nurse.
That was likely the start of Wendy’s descent into criminality. I imagine her scarred so deeply she lost trust in men, turning to booze, then opiates, with no way to pay for her fierce addictions other than to go on the game. Maybe even now a 42-year-old, toothless Wendy is on a street corner somewhere like Rotherham, imploring a tramp to let her gobble him off for a half bottle of Aldi brandy with a dribble mixer.
Such are the dangers of primary school.
This week the government decided that kids aren’t yet allowed back in primary school en masse because there’s no practical way to keep them, and staff, safe from coronavirus. Uproar has there been adequate, from the usual quarters: the Daily Heil has accused politicians of a ‘lack of imagination’. Who can’t imagine a small child coughing, loudly, uncovered and upwards, into the face of a teaching assistant who subsequently chokes up a lung because of a murderous sack of germs called Alfie? The only thing I can’t imagine in that scene is the child called anything but Alfie.
But it’s the children that matter, because it always fucking is, as though we’re blind to the misery every fresh collection of graduating bastards piles on to the increasingly frail human condition. And kids suffer a lot less than adults from COVID-19 so let’s get them back into their bright pens pronto, so we can all get back to the jobs we hate, to stop the economy we’d be better off without from dying a long-deserved death.
What gets me is that people have even started to proclaim some kind of lost generation, as though four months away from primary school will affect a kid’s chances in ways not seen since Kaiser Wilhelm was at play. Just what the hell are parents doing for home schooling if that’s true? We all assume the words ‘Peppa Pig’ are heavily involved, but surely even the most time-poor white-wine mothers are capable of half an hour of times tables a day with their own fucking children. Or is that someone else’s problem so exclusively that you’ve come to despise the sight of your own infant struggling through ‘James…Henry…Trotter…started walking…slowly…towards…the giant…peach’?
I can’t imagine what a few months out of primary school would have done to my life – which bits of a searingly exciting infant education I’d have missed out on. Possibly those disquieting days I came to the awful realisation that girls were both horrid and fascinating, through a small, unrequited obsession with a young lady named Catherine Powell. Or maybe I’d never have learned the unique form of adult yelling that can only be heard when a child has too much fun, as when Lee Perrin and I entered the school gates before any teachers arrived one day so we could tear about in the playground’s freshly fallen snow. How dare we? Didn’t we know we could get, well, probably cold is it?
Perhaps my use of the apostrophe would be less impeccable; after all, it was for my own educational gain that I was forced to write “I must not play football with the girls’ netball” a hundred times, years before anything had made my wrist strong enough to get through it without agony. Or I could have skipped the lesson where they explained that milky, middle-aged men called Alan who lived with their mothers were in the 1980s encouraged to get jobs as cub scout masters. I don’t remember everything they taught us, but I’m sure spotting a nonce must have been in there somewhere, right?
I wonder what’ll fall off the curriculum in these few missing months? It depends on the age of the brat in question of course, but let me suggest a few things that maybe they don’t need to touch on at all between the ages of 4 and 11.
Poetry. Religion. Rugby. I suppose there’s hardly any point to handwriting these days, unless you kick a fucking netball. Collage, because I reckon they can learn to cut shit up and stick things to other things at the weekend. And what percentage of adults remember which is which between latitude and longitude? That’s part of ‘Key Stage 2’, it says here.
I don’t remember if I’d heard of Shakespeare before I was 11, but maybe if we stopped implanting the overrated tosser into spongy brains we might have a greater breadth of study among tunnel-visioned literature students. And do kids really need to know about so many kings and queens? I was taught more about 11th-century blokes called William by 1987 than I had been about 20th-century blokes called Adolf by 1993, which explains a lot of Twitter in 2020.
See, I’m not sure that kids won’t be better off dodging a little primary school. In all seriousness if parents don’t see this as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to bond with their kids through education, maybe moulding them into better people than a conveyor-belt style national system is likely to, then it’s time to kick off that mass sterilisation programme we talked about. I know not all parents are good at it, and a lot of children will have suffered by being at home with red-faced, shit-faced scum, but that’s a bigger societal problem. It shouldn’t be allowed to stop an interesting, eye-opening moment in the lives of kids from safe households from having a chance to become less bog-standard themselves.
Nobody could save Wendy Jones from Knightley’s nostrils. But maybe a few parents could save their Alfies from being ‘unique’ in the way every online disckhead thinks they are now, and give them the chance to actually be unique.
It’s probably not going to be a concern for me how the primary school kids of today turn out. But instead of assuming this is a disaster and their education will be halted or stunted, I wish people would see it as a singular opportunity. You do jobs to pay for these bloody kids, so surely by definition the kids matter more to you than the jobs you’re so obsessed with getting back to. It’s no wonder we’re a nation of drones, doing what people in authority say because ‘the economy’, when we’re content to just roll children into education factories to be turfed out all the same at the other end like androids.