Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Don't Care Was Made To Care

I do my best thinking when I'm on the road.

'On The Road'........ sounds romantic.

Not in my car it isn't. The bratskis take turns (sort of) with the CD choice (never mine), always an argument rising, a foot in the face, and a really unpleasant smell of..... um ...... children. Mixed with rotting food and whatever's come off their shoes. Or maybe what's in their shoes. I'm really not one for feet in general. I know they're very useful. But I'm glad they're located as far away from the face as possible. That's evidently gods' will. Mr Roving Blade was fishing for a pedicure tonight. Says he's not flexible enough to reach his own plates. Ever the dutiful wife, I ran like buggery.

Ah now, this has just been the perfect example of what I meant to write about - the way my mind drifts off when I'm supposed to be concentrating on something else. Like driving the car. And yesterday, following an etched-in-brain route, I had one of those eureka-esque trains of thought. Can't remember getting on the train but after a while I was stirring about in one of my usual ponderies:

'Why have I never really got anywhere?'

I've had my opportunities. I passed my 11+. I went to a grammar school. We were all told in our first year there that we were the cream of the crop. I remember squirming with narrowing eyes. 'Cream of the crop'? Funny..... Sounds like they're about to make us do something really crap. They did. Being there full stop was crap. But we were constantly reminded how we were the selected few. Weren't we lucky? Then they graded us at the end of the year and the little godlets went into the 'A' stream, the useless gits went into the 'B' piddle, and the heathen deviants went into the stagnant depths of 'C'. Nice work. University and a future for 'A's. Office dunce for 'B's if they can possibly aspire to such heights. Piss off 'C's you're simply an embarrassment to the school but if you can actually read then follow the sign that says 'free milk tokens' and this might just keep you out of the gutter for a while you leprous fuckwits.

'B' for me. Invisible. Tedious. Ripe for angst teen poetry and weird gothic biro doodles. Result? Art college.

Another great leap in educational fortune surely? Well now - I was good at wearing black, getting drunk, raiding skips, staying up all hours, waking up where I shouldn't've, running up an overdraft and being stared at by nice people. All that was perfectly executed. The 'art' bit was slightly lacking. But that was just a teeny detail and I'm all for impressionism me. And expressionism yeah. Anything for an ism and another coat of mascara on top of yesterdays'. No need for pride or details at all. Pride? Does not even compute.

And as for a career. That's for people who did stuff at college wasn't it? Proper stuff obviously - not art. No. I'm now over-qualified for shit jobs - 'we are concerned that as you have a degree you may get bored'. (That's a real rejection I really received.) But not actually qualified for anything at all. The only solution is to apply for shit jobs and lie. That sums up my CV.

So there I am - on the road - wondering where I went wrong. But I just can't put my finger on it. I COULD have been GOOD at school and been an 'A' princess and trodden silken paths to academic Achievia. No - I really couldn't've.

2 reasons:

1. My brain ain't wired that way. The only reason I passed my 11+ was 'cos I was sneaky and answered all the wordy questions first before indulgently allowing my one remaining open eye to rest on the numbery ones. I had therefore removed the pressure and panic and treated each mathsy conclusion as a bonus. This approach was the clever bit - not the stuff I wrote down. It worked. I was patted on the head. Tick. But the actual academonics? Nope. Tock - you're out.

2. I didn't give a fuck.

What if I'd 'knuckled down' (what?) at college and been all brilliant? What if I'd even done some actual 'work'? Why did I never know what anyone was talking about? Why had I never heard of any of the artists they all knew? Or the theories? Or anything at all?

2 reasons:

1. I'm just not that good. Being the best painter of stripey people at play group and the best drawer of big brothers' album covers at school did not make me stand out much at a college full of 'proper art' enthusiasts.

2. I didn't give a fuck.

And so to my working life. I never had the balls to go for a decent job. And I always pissed off every boss I ever had.

2 reasons:

1. Yes I was too clever for most of the jobs and was very very bored. Or if I had a difficult one (by difficult I mean operating the switchboard as a temp - I don't mean high powered nuffink) I would make myself ill with anxiety. The humiliation of being discovered as not clever enough for a shit job!

Am I clever or not?

Oh god - the light dawns! I never was the cream of the crop and I bloody knew it! And I just thought I was a 'different' clever all these years. The classic misunderstood genius. Oh how the truth hurts.

But then again, was it Reason Number 1 the REAL culprit? Orrrrrr, was it YOU REASON NUMBER 2!!?? Has my whole life been a total prolapse because of my innate Can't-Give-A-Fuckness?

And the grand solution to my decades-long circling seeking is YES! It's Number 2! My life has been a big Number 2 because of Number 2ness. It has always been my problem. Since The Voice first spoke. Come in Number 2. Your time is up.

But this in itself was not the big eureka. The big eureka was my brain's reaction to this revelation. My brain, The Voice, I ...... realised that ........

I didn't give a fuck.

I finally got it. I finally got 'me'. I really never gave a fuck about being clever - just never wanted to be pointed at by teachers, art lovers or receptionists for NOT being clever. I didn't want to be them, or like them, I just had a different notion of what was important and their stuff just wasn't. To me. And I didn't want to have to explain this 'cos that would be boring and pointless. And that's it. That's really all it is.

It was such a wonderful feeling to have peeled back those layers and find my little pickly self.

And it was in the middle of one of my favourite roads - through the yellowy open part of the Ashdown Forest, on the way to somewhere fun, with my little pickly offspring - all arguing and kicking and smelling. Ahhhhhhh....... I had Found Myself. And liked it. I mean me.

It was only a couple of minutes before I drove into a hedge.

Me brakes have gone again. I had to swerve across the road into the path of the on-coming car in the hope that the hedge would slow us down if the brakes didn't. It was either that or cruise out onto a road where you can't see what's coming round the left-hand bend. The other car did have plenty of time to see us and slow down, which they did. In fact they stopped up next to us for half a second to glare and gawp all cross and horrified before shaking their heads at us and driving on. Good stout English couple. Glad we got rid of them. EmBARRassing!

But a little later, awaitin' my nice AA man, I wondered if a woman with a carful of kids drove into a hedge before my eyes, would I wag my finger and clop off on my high horse or would I pull up and ask her if they were OK? Would I ............ give a fuck?

Yes I would. For that, I would.

But for another's judgement on education, high-browiety, and worthwhile employment, I ... would ... not.

And despite my current status as bright orange courtesy go-cart totin' liability, I am very happy with my own head.

It's MY head.

And I'm not afraid to use it.


  1. Interesting how we jump through the academic hoops and only really appreciate what we were doing in hindsight.
    I worked hard, 11+ and Grammar school and studied Geography at University. I often wondered why I chose Geography - I know now that it was the subject I did well in. I wasn't particularly excited about the subject and now I struggle to read maps, have no reason to know where jute is the main export and don't know any capitals.
    The job I did after Uni was in retailing - bugger all to do with Geography, though I could direct people to the nearest escalator with aplomb.

    So glad you like yourself. I like you too.

  2. Bless you Mrs! I have this huge weight on my shoulders that I'm supposed to be Good At Art - when I don't really have much to do with it. I'm now much happier being an Outsider! Except that now even what's been called Outsider Art has become something 'one should know about'. And I don't much. I just like real people doing stuff that interests them. If it looks interesting to anyone else then hooray - if it doesn't - who cares!

    It's so liberating now realising that I don't have to be clever - after years of hiding the fact that I never was!

    I now have to get back on your 'cock up your beaver' post to quote the whole poem on my Facebook thing as I have been challenged. The things we do to please.......