The actual horror…   Leave a comment

Right. Finally Caroline forces a bottle of spring water on me and we begin the trudge to the gallows represented by the school assembly hall. I’m really, really, really shitting myself. In fact, and I hope this isn’t a little too much information for you, I do actually need to go, but I know that if I even loosen my sphincter to the slightest degree I will fart so noxiously as to invite expressions of disgust from anyone and everyone within a thirty foot radius. Obviously this doesn’t make me any more at ease with myself either. As we enter the hall we have to sort of awkwardly join the queue of students in order to squeeze through the doors, which feels weird and silly, as though we are pretending to do what we are about to pretend to do anyway, i.e. “put ourselves inside a child”. Then we make our way to the front of the hall and I watch with an increasingly sick heart as row after row of kids in green shirts and black trousers materialise in front of me. I would estimate that the hall soon contained upwards of 600 people, which is a pretty big gig for me, to be honest. Of course they’re all staring at us, and I’m trying not to notice any smirking going on. Then Caroline suggests that we sit at the back whilst the matey who represents the KIDS SEX DRAMA INTERFACE does his little intro, which seems like a good idea, except that I end up sitting two seats down from Anne, who is the friend of a friend, and therefore a representative from my actual real life sent to bear official witness to my shameful humiliation. Caroline asks me if having someone there that I know makes it any easier, and I just give her a rueful look by way of an answer. I can see she’s starting to panic about whether I’m actually able to do this, as is Lucy, and that doesn’t make me feel any better either. I keep staring at the bit of paper that Caroline has written the scenario on, but none of it is going in at all. Also I keep taking little sips of water, but it seems to get absorbed immediately by my dry mouth.
Matey’s speech is brilliant. He introduces the whole SEX DAY FOR KIDS thing in a straightforward, non-patronising and yet humorous way, and you can see he earns the immediate respect of the massed teens. In fact he puts me in my mind of that percentage of male teachers that I had at school who one did respect, and I feel cause to reflect on their admirable qualities, and of what it means to be a decent middle-class guy, to be a good and gentle man. Which just makes me feel like a snivelling and confused dropout who has got on the wrong bus and ended up behind the lines of people he has already betrayed! Arrrrgh!
Finally he introduces Legs Akimbo, sorry, Snapshot Theatre Company, and I rise from my seat and walk to the front of the room with Lucy and Caroline, staring all the while at the floor. Then Caroline explains what is about to happen, which is basically that we will do a little scene, and then the kids will have a chance to put each of the characters on the “hotseat”, which means that they will have to answer questions truthfully, in character. Therefore a kid can ask me if I fancy Lucy, or if I’ve had sex with Caroline, or whatever the hell they like, and I’ve got to somehow be credulous within the context of the scene. After this we will re-enact the scenario, but the audience are encouraged to think of ways that will resolve the conflicts therein, so they have to shout: “Stop!” whenever they can think of a more fruitful way for us (the characters) to act towards one another. I know I haven’t explained this as well as I might have done, but we are meant to be 14 year-old kids. I should also mention that whenever I try to imagine myself pretending to be that age I get this cliché of a chav in a baseball cap with a voice to match, even though we are in Bottisham and not Hackney.

So, the scene should run something like this (although I should stress that there is no script or anything):

Lucy: “Oh my God, maths is such a boring lesson. I can’t believe Mrs. Wilkins has just sprung a test on us for tomorrow! She’s out of order. No way am I going to be ready for that!
Pete: “Well, there’s no point in getting stressed about it. You’ll be fine anyway.”
Lucy: “Well, what about if you come round and give me a hand with some revision. You owe me anyway after I helped you do that French stuff.”
Pete: “Yeah, but…oh alright. I suppose I do owe you one. When shall we do it then?”
Lucy: “Just come round after school. I’ll send you a text, yeah?”
Pete: OK, see you later.

And what actually happens is this:

Lucy: “Oh my God, maths is such a boring lesson. I can’t believe Mrs. Wilkins has just sprung a test on us for tomorrow! She’s out of order. No way am I going to be ready for that!
Pete: (gulps, then in very quiet, tremulous, and totally ridiculous approximation of working-class teenager voice and awkward body-language to match involving strange repetitive shrug and bad gangster-machismo slouch) “Yeah… but you’ll be alright.”
Lucy: (clearly shaken by simulation holocaust in front of her) “No, I won’t. I really need some help. Will you come round after school and give me hand with some revision? You owe me after I did that French stuff with you, after all.”
Pete: (similar incomprehensible mannerisms etc) “Yeah, but…well… I suppose…maybe I …OK.”
Lucy: (looking at me with genuine distaste, almost threatening me not to get any worse) “Alright then I’ll see you later. Send me a text or something.”

Now if that sounds bad, let me assure you that the real thing was approximately one thousand times worse. There was even a guy videoing it, which didn’t help much either. Unfortunately my recall of the whole thing is too good, because the imprint left by the overwhelming psychological trauma is so massive that I could fill page after page with details of the hideousness of it all, and I’m not sure it isn’t too soon to revisit the horror, even if I didn’t have other stupid things to do. I’ll just say that we had to do two more scenes, including one in which my dialogue, if it had been loud enough to hear, was so diluted by confusion and fear that it was devoid of words in the English language, and became instead a kind of terror-stricken mumble that only executioners usually get to hear. We also had to do the hotseat thing, and I was asked about who I fancied out of Lucy and Caroline and who I’d had sex with etc, and that wasn’t much fun. The third scene also involved Lucy having a go at me (I’d let her down by watching TV with Caroline rather than doing the revision thing, and then lied about it) and I although I was meant to try and front it out with her, I looked so scared that it didn’t work at all! Ah, the unending shame of it all!

Right, I’ll do a truncated version of the rest of the day and then I’m done.

Posted June 25, 2004 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

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