Boy’s Toys…

There’s something about a tidy room, that just lures me into making a mess… Yesterday morning I see the carpet for about half an hour before it becomes buried under woodchips. I like to carve wands, I never use them, but I like to sit and while away time that way and see where my mind goes… Yesterday, my mind went back to Ms W’s sewing room… Circa 1982… When I’d started secondary school in 1980, it had been a girl’s school for 25 years. Come 1981, it merged with the adjoining boy’s school. I say merged, the years above mine remained single sex classes, the new years coming in below were mixed. My year was stuck somewhere in between, mixed for some classes but not for others.

I was quite delighted when the schools mixed as the girls’ school had outbuildings full of kilns and other such stuff deemed suitable for young ladies. The boys’ school had metalwork and woodwork shops and I wanted in. Design subjects were done on rotation of 6 week blocks – cookery, art, pottery, metalwork, technical drawing – which somehow much to my annoyance never landed on my timetable but even more annoying was the woodwork/sewing injustice! Ms W the sewing teacher, was adamant that ghastly boys would not be allowed into her room and so it became that boys got two blocks of woodwork and girls got double dosed with sewing. Jesus fucking Christ, that stills annoys me to this very day, to be so close to getting into that off limits room then access denied… It wouldn’t be so bad if we’d been given something cool to sew, but no, we sat in rows stitching pastel blue aprons, because all girls need aprons in pretty colours to keep their frocks clean in the kitchen… Mine was stitched painstakingly by hand, with every stitch a silent surly snarl of fuck sewing, fuck kitchens, fuck aprons, humpfff! What’s wrong with my lab coat?! I’ve got a perfectly good lab coat! Chunter Chunter Chunter… And why doesn’t she want boys in here? Ffs! Everyone, especially boys, should know how to replace a button! Why are they so bad? How can they be any worse than a room full of girls? I wasn’t active in being part of the group of girls who locked Ms W into the stockroom… I did actively enjoy it! And I felt zero urge to let her out and I was more than happy to plead ignorance and claim I’d seen nothing when pressed by head of year to snitch and grass out the culprits… Honestly, no one left their seats, she must have accidentally locked herself in…

A few years on and I meet Mr S. He’s 9 years my elder and turns out he’d been to the boy’s school. I asked him about boys messing about in woodwork… I guess I grudgingly had to concede that Ms W may just have had a tiny point, after he told me how the coffee table that he’d made got kicked to smithereens after the teacher completely lost it with boys clowning around and refusing to take dovetail joints seriously. I asked him – Really? Was it that bad? He tells me they were pretty convinced they’d killed one teacher as he never returned after a meltdown…

I sit thinking about the piss poor state of the education system and that maybe lockdown is the best thing that could possibly be happening to the classroom… A chance for kids to escape the national curriculum forced down their necks, filled with crap that has no real relevance for the speed the world moves on at… A chance to breathe… To chill… To work out for themselves what they want to learn… To drift… To discover… To hack their interests… To lose the ridiculous notion that you have to choose one direction…

Mr S strolls in and ripples my thoughts… Hey! I thought you tidied up yesterday? What’s all this? I tell him, yeah, that was yesterday and this is today. He tells me – oh! That reminds me! I have something for you. He tootles off and returns with a jigsaw and a router. There you go! Make something with these!

I instantly abandon my on the floor project. Dive into stash of wood that might come in useful and fix a g-clamp to my desk. He says oh, I didn’t think you liked power tools! I tell him I don’t like power tools when he uses them as he leaves them on the floor plugged and my mind fucks me over by imagining they will come to life of their own accord and drill their way through my ankle, always the outside right of my ankle, just under the bone, right into the hollow dip and out the other side. I don’t know where I get that image from… Probably something to do with weird PSA messages that used to air on TV in the 70’s, warning of the dangers lurking on building sites. I tell him to fuck off and tend to his guitars whilst I make more mess in peace…

I idle away the day, turning out new runes… I feel I need them for my next project… I’m blissfully happy as I lazy day my way through 24 and then oil and polish to bring out the grain… I sit a while, then I’m mentally back in the room and seeing the extent of my mess… OK time to tidy up again… I’m pleased as punch with my new to me power tools that didn’t chew up my limbs… I pick up my abandoned wand and smile. Maybe just maybe I did use it to conjure up some magic after all…

2 thoughts on “Boy’s Toys…

  1. Ohhh boy did you bring it home in that last line. There’s such a robust and full expression of merging with kinda not merged above, and kinda more merged below, you and your class on the journey of a bridge generation getting a bit of all of it. And, then Mr S hands you the tools and you have the Poltergeist drill coming to life And coming at the outside of your ankle. Such a hoot. SUch a thick story… that… conjures up some magic after the magic was conjured up.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I did actually buy a sewing machine a few years ago… It lives in the cupboard under the stairs and every so often, I opened the door, shout Fuck you! at it, then lock it back in! 🤣


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