Gorse, Stars, Dodgy Teachers, Police Academy, Volodimir Zelensky And Anything Else I Can Think Of
I’ve not been very active for a while - basically because, after years of mania, I was plunged into menopausal depression, for about a month. I have to say, that after 37 years (since the age of 10), my gynaecological problems have finally beaten me. After all, we’re not supposed to live longer than 40-50, under natural conditions, are we?
Plus (since the age of 40) continual joblessness and homelessness has done its worst for me, and I don’t know about you, but after a year of almost zero sleep, and drenching hot flashes which have gone on for 6 years now, I’m ready to get off this train. As, said The Joker To The Thief. So,if this is the last article I ever write, I’m gonna try to make it a good one, and a funny one. I’m gonna out-Jones Liz Jones with this one, and the DM or whoever the hell she works for, will regret not paying me, instead of her. OK? So, here we go.
I had a feeling some phase of life was coming to an end around January, and made a point of visiting all the places I’d ever loved to go walking. I am a champion walker, and walked all the way from Hackney Wick to High Beach (on the top of Epping Forest) - some 10 miles - before being found crashed out under a tree by a Special Constable, with a big bottle of Jaegermeister beside me.
Another time, I visited Guildford - Pewley Down, which I used to live very near by, and would escape to via a hole in the hedge at the apartment block at which I then lived. (This time, I opted to stay at the Mandolay - my favourite hotel in the area - instead of sleeping rough - although some bloke in another room did keep me up snoring all night - not worth the clout, except for the fluffy towels, and the fancy shampoos, and other assorted body-enhancing condiments).
Another time, I visited Clacton-on-Sea, and walked along the beach in the Jaywick direction. I curled up in an inlet, and fell asleep - only to be woken up, by the incoming tide rising around my elbows. I can tell you, being partly submerged in cold water, wakes you up pretty damn quick!
People have said to me: “Aren’t you afraid of being robbed, or raped, or something, sleeping rough?” I said: “NOPE. Not at all. And if the Exmoor Beast did exist, well, I’m probably a bigger beast than that one!"
Yet another time, I slept for a couple of nights up on the moors near Wareham, in Dorset (where one of my exes and I used to go from time to time). The first morning, I was awoken by the dawn chorus. The second night, I was awake for much of - but felt perfectly safe under the gorse bush. Apart from some little animal (probably a shrew) shrieking close to my head, and a fox barking in the distance, I didn't see much cause for concern.
Plus, at 5am, the skies were clearer than I'd ever seen. I have honestly never seen so many stars in my life. I was never allowed to camp out by my parents as a child (was wrapped in cotton wool - amazed I was allowed to breathe, quite frankly), so this sight, of the twinkling lights, was a delight to behold - as was the dawning white light on the horizon. It was quite warm, although prickly, under the gorse bush. I can recommend it.
ANYWAY! On to the subject of crazy teachers. At this point in my life, I’m just trying to think of anything and everything that could cheer me up. Let me just say, that the 1980s was the BEST time to be alive. I would say, even better than the 60s. Especially as a teenager. We had the best music, we still did stuff by hand (yes, without all this technology), Grange Hill was our show of choice, and teachers still drank to get themselves through the day.
ESPECIALLY - Mr Seagrave! (I’m not bothered about mentioning names here. The Mr Seagrave stuff was in the public domain anyway, courtesy of the Clevedon Mercury, and most of the people I’m about to mention are probably dead now). I could write a whole chapter on this man. Calling him Seaweed, was a *non sequitur* and would, inevitably, land you in detention.
Mr Seagrave was the Latin teacher at my private girls’ school. I don’t think - at all - that either he or us were there for the teaching - rather, the entertainment. He was an eligible bachelor, and for a very good reason. He had very obviously dyed red hair, which used to change its shades of redness every month (and had a distinct grey root regrow). At one point, he had a Jag. Then (when finances presumably got tight) he had a black Mini, with an orange stripe around the middle.
There have been comments, recently, on supposed “videos” of Volodimir Zelensky allegedly playing the piano with his private parts. Whilst I don’t believe these to be genuine (given the camera angle) I can go one better, with this story I’m about to tell. Mr Seagrave used to stand *against* the teacher’s desk, and rest his b-s on the table. Yes, I kid you not. We used to bang the chalkboard eraser all along the edge of the desk, so he’d end up with a chalk line across the front of his trousers. There was a trend amongst some (not myself, I hasten to add) to pretend to fornicate with the table saying "Oh table I love you, table I love you, etc. etc."
One girl took great delight in making multiple V-signs at him when his back was turned (which creased me up), but also flicking ink at his suit (not OK). He was also rumoured to have a brandy bottle in his briefcase. This was proved to be fact when one girl dived into his case when he’d just been out of the room for 30 seconds, and found the offending article (also, not OK). He came back into the room, caught her at it, and, mortified, said “PUT THAT AWAY!”
One very strange thing about him was that whenever we (as teenage, geese girls) were giggling, he would say, “HAVE YOU BEEN DRINKING?”
Anyway, Mr Seagrave’s demise came about through an unhealthy crush he developed on a girl in the year below me. She and I used to walk home together, and years before *the actual event* happened, she confessed to me that she was having nightmares about him chasing her around the classroom, and trying to have sex with her.
The irony is that this ACTUALLY, in a manner of speaking, HAPPENED. Apparently her parents were in the middle of a divorce and she needed to be given a lift home. So anyway, Seagrave gave her a lift home and was invited in, and then for whatever reason, he and this underage girl were left in the living room with a ton of booze. (???) Seagrave, being what he was, apparently got drunk very quickly and started telling the girl he loved her. She got very upset and ran to her mother; according to the Clevedon Mercury (which loves to report on these sorts of juicy stories) “he became very abusive when told to get a taxi and later when he tried to drive off he only succeeded in driving over the lawn”. Naturally he got suspended, and actually had the cheek to take the school to an industrial tribunal (which didn’t go anywhere).
More nutty teachers from this school: Miss Graham (the English teacher). We F-ing loathed each other, and I had to put up with this idiot for 4 long years. She was like the Beryl Reid character from St Trinian’s. Reversible kilt, men’s woolly knee-length stockings, bovver boots, tweed jacket, booming voice - you get the picture OH and she apparently also wore Y-fronts. How these types of people can be seen to be fit to be in charge of children, I have no idea.
I love American and Russian writers, and she hated them, and so we had endless, almost circular tours of Shakespeare, Hardy, and all the rest of the crusty old talentless bores who unfortunately, happen to be English writers. I’m sure she did it to p- me off. She wrote in one of my reports that “I had a minor creative talent” - yeah well, whatever, I thought, it’s a darn sight more than you have! Anyway I've had books published, and she never did, despite her Oxbridge degree or whatever the hell it was. So as far as I'm concerned, she can stuff that comment up her Y-fronts!
Let’s move on to someone altogether nicer, who was Mrs. Lunt, our Geography teacher. Mrs Lunt came from North Wales, and was a native Welsh speaker. Now, there are bitchy, sarcastic Welshwomen (Mrs Foster, the Head of Music at my primary school - YEAH RIGHT), and warm, all-embracing Welshwomen. Mrs Lunt was the latter. She was bloody lovely.
Unfortunately, Mrs Lunt had a tendency to spit, in the Roy Hattersley tradition. One girl was in the frontline (as in, front row, one day) and her exercise book took the full force of one of Mrs Lunt’s spitballs. Mrs Lunt gave her a brand new exercise book and apologized, saying “I do tend to spit rather a lot”.
Another time, there was a girl who was sitting at the table in front of me, who wouldn’t stop bitching about me openly the whole lesson. Eventually I got so fed up with it, that I rammed my table into the back of her chair. She started complaining, “Mrs Lunt! Christina’s trying to kill me!” Mrs Lunt turned round to her, and said, “you were being bitchy and catty, Fiona, and you thoroughly deserved it!” That shut Fiona the Fiend up. It just goes to prove that there is justice in this world, sometimes.
More weird teachers? You mean there's more, in MY experience? And then people wonder why I'M weird! Christ, David Icke and I should get together...
There was a French teacher called Ms Shippen (humourless old -) and an English teacher called Ms Matthews who was actually really nice, but she was like Chesty Morgan. I mean, I've never ever seen anyone with such huge t-s in my life. Anyway, these two got caught *in flagrante* in one of the common rooms, and told the girl who witnessed the whole incident "if you don't tell, we'll make you Head Girl". True to form, they made her Head Girl and she then told everybody. You couldn't make this stuff up.
What shall we go on to now? Ahhh…POLICE ACADEMY! One of the best franchises of the 80s, at which I never stop laughing (although they lost the plot after PA4, when Steve Guttenberg and Bob Goldthwait left). Fave scenes: Punk gang goes shopping (Goldthwait shouting “Come on, shop everybody”, and of course, anything to do with the Blue Oyster bar (that bloody theme tune is enough to crack me up). Sorry…but Zelensky dancing in high heels, is not nearly half as funny. !!! PC ruined absolutely EVERYTHING from 1990 onwards.
Then, there was the 6 months I spent at London College of Fashion, for which some foreign students had spent about 11k GBP on what was effectively a joke MA. I was so fed up at that point, with the poor quality of the course (and especially the lecturers' promotions of talentless airheads like Manjit Deu, rather than those of us that did actually have ideas and do the work) that I enlisted the (unofficial) help of a barrister I knew, in order to get the 3.5k GBP I'd spent on the course back, successfully. I actually quite liked Dai Rees (the Course Leader) at the outset, but felt increasingly over time that he was taking the p-. He was just trying to recruit people to pay for worthless pieces of paper.
Apparently, he was having a smoke outside some exhibition somewhere (after I left the course, and got my money back), and ran inside the building because he thought he saw ME across the road, and was terrified of ME! Christ, I'm only a little 5'3" woman!!!
Lastly: I’m gonna talk about my time working with Serge Belamant. I was his PA for a little while, and whilst he got a bad rap from the world’s press (he often looked like he was going to his own funeral), he was kind to me, and I always found that he completely cracked me up. He’s a little, but tough man (as most little men are) with twinkling hazel eyes, a brilliant sense of humour, and very, very intelligent. And Christ, he had longevity in terms of holding meetings. I can only withstand a “meeting” for 5-10 mins (which is probably why I’m not a very good businessperson), but this guy could go on for 5 hours without a stretch. And the language - OMG, it was about 100 Fs a minute. I just couldn’t stop laughing. There's something very oddly surreal about the "virtual" meetings of the last decade or so. People end up shouting at computer screens. I mean really.
Because, as Bob Dylan (and, happenstance, my own father) says, life is but a joke, right?