Jolly Hookey Sticks

I only once played hookey from school: my boyfriend got hold of a spare dentist’s appointment card and made me a fake appointment so that I got the morning off.  I’d like to say I had a great time but actually I was terrified of being found out as it would have been such a Huge Deal: I’d probably have been grounded for a decade and had all my pocket money stopped in perpetuity.  Everything was Terribly Serious in those days.

One of the reasons I was so keen to skip school was hockey.  I loathed hockey; I couldn’t see the point of it at all (and still can’t) and I was terrible at it.  I’ve never been good at anything which involves physical confrontation, and being bruised and battered by lumps of wood and shouted at for an hour at a time, was not my idea of fun.  In fact I’m not good at games where people shout a lot; partly because I don’t like shouting but mainly because I can’t work out what the hell they’re saying.  They look at me from fifty yards away and yell: ‘Whadayamesaside!  Go!’ and I just want to go up to them and say, ‘Sorry – what was that again?  I didn’t quite catch it.’   But by the time I’ve done that, the scrum (or whatever) has come along and trampled me underfoot.  As a result I was never picked for any team and spent hockey games shivering and dribbling up and down the side with a couple of other rejects: whenever the teacher wasn’t looking we would stop and crack jokes.

I’m a little tired this morning because Zadie Smith kept me awake.  I’ve not read her before and initially I didn’t like ‘N-W’, the book of hers about North-West London which I got from the library.  But it’s hooked me in now – and it reminded me so forcibly of living in London and what that was like and how vehemently I hated it, that I couldn’t put the thing down.,84991/

Seriously, you couldn’t possibly pay me enough to go and live in London now.  I lived in the same house for more than ten years, and when I went down the road the only people who spoke to me were parishioners who would usually find something to reprimand (church was very formal in those days).  I knew the people in the shops, but they never spoke; nor did anyone ever chat at a bus stop unless they wanted to be taken for a loony.  Here, when I go down the road I am likely to see neighbours who will say hello even if I don’t know them very well; people from church who will stop for a chat; staff in shops and in the library – and everyone will talk to you at the bus stop.  It just makes life so much easier – and more pleasant.  Things work so much better – you can exchange information, help each other out, lessen feelings of loneliness and isolation… Seriously, I can’t bear London.

OK that’s enough of a rant.  Speaking of rants, I have a nearly-finished poem called ‘For Your Good’ which is about the too-frequent use of the expression ‘my bad’.  Which I also loathe.

Kirk out