Sunday, May 5, 2013

The public v private debate, or "Daft Punk is for weirdos"

Recently, my semi-retired mother returned to work as a part-time high school teacher. For the first time in her life, she is working at a fancy pants private school. After a lifetime of channeling Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds (aka working at huge state high schools in low socio-economic areas), and championing the public education cause, she is wide-eyed in amazement at how the other side learns, and is loving every second of it. Loving it SICK. The traitorous wench.

She admitted to me the other day, "Oh darling, it was SUCH A RELIEF! I mean, I was really worried that somewhere like [insert name of my old high school here] would ask me to work there. Oh it would have been simply AWFUL. I am SO RELIEVED they didn't ask me to work at [insert name of my old high school here]."

I rolled my eyes and said, "Yeah. Yeah HOW AWFUL. I mean WHO WOULD SEND THEIR KID TO A SCHOOL LIKE THAT!? I mean IMAGINE! THE HORROR! IT'S PRACTICALLY CHILD ABUSE! Oh, hang on, hang on. WAIT A MINUTE! THAT'S RIGHT! YOU SENT ME THERE! YOU! CALLOUS UNLOVING PARENT! Pshaw! Pftt! UGH!"

It was a little unfair of me really, she has had a difficult* year and couldn't have coped with the stress of it all. She bloody deserves to spend some time teaching in a school where she's not working in a 20 year old demountable with the walls kicked in, and where the kids don't tell her to "Oy! Get FUCKED, Miss!"

"At [insert name of fancy pants private school here], the kids are ALLOWED TO GO TO THE TOILET DURING CLASS!" she told me in awe. "We used to have to fill out FORMS and PAPERWORK before a kid could do that at a state school! And they have a COFFEE SHOP! And a THEATRE! All the classrooms are AIR CONDITIONED!"

"Bastards," I said bitterly.

Ah, the public/private divide.  That old chestnut.  That old sausage. That old grey mare, she ain't what she used to be.

Most of my friends from primary school went to private high schools.  It was only a couple of us that went on to the local public high school.  I remember clearly, on the last day of Grade 7, we all cried and wailed in an embarrasing display of pre-teen hysteria.  As we sat in the middle of the oval, clutching each other and weeping, one of the private school destined friends said earnestly to me, "Sarah! Promise me you'll never EVER wear a short straight skirt with your uniform, or wear your hair hanging down your back. PROMISE ME!"

"I won't. I won't EVER!" I vowed, so sure then that short skirts and loose hair were the quick road to ruin.

HAHA! AS IF THAT LASTED! You know as soon as I got there I was begging Mum to take my skirt up to bum-skimming heights and was wearing my hair hanging loose round my shoulders like the public school hussy that I was.

So the years went by. We stayed in touch with our beloved friends but things changed a bit. They went on to win the Rock Eisteddfod, we went on to lose it. They went on to have an arse-kickingly good concert band that probably won the Fanfare competition, we went on to play gigs at the local shopping centre that involved standing up and shouting "Tequila!" in the middle of a song. They developed passionate interests in theatre and THE ARTS,  we developed unhealthy obsessions with the dudes from Green Day.

Towards the end of high school, I think it was Grade 11, two of the private school friends had a big party, and they invited us, the public school friends, to come. It was to farewell them as they headed off on year long student exchanges. We were to wear red and white, the colours of their host countries.

Because we were NERVOUS and TRYING TO BE COOL and it was THE NINETIES we decided the best idea would be to wear white petticoats, red and white football socks and Doc Martens. SO HOT! HOW COULD ALL THOSE PRIVATE SCHOOL BOYS REFUSE? They would never know that we were all DAGGY DORKS, they would be tricked into thinking we were HOT STATE SCHOOL REBELS MAN! YEAH!

This is us circa 1996/7. Not at said red and white party. At another party. I am on the far left. I've used this picture before. How good are my pants? They totes fit into the Fashion Fails themeing we've got going on for The Lounge this week, I will say that much.

We got there and to our shock a group of the COOL BOYS from our school were already there. Apparently they had part time jobs in the same place as our hosts. Our cover was blown. They looked at us in surprise, like they hadn't realised that we might exist outside school hours. We lurked in a corner watching everyone dancing to the actual live DJ who was there. He was, like, just dropping some BEATS and spinning some PROGRESSIVE HOUSE MUSIC or something.

We didn't recognise anything they played, until a Daft Punk song came on. Daft Punk was not our THING, man. We groaned, and rolled our eyes. "Ugh! I HATE Daft Punk!" we all said, wrinkling our noses.

All the other guests squealed, and ran excitedly onto the dancefloor. "I LOVE THIS!!!" they cried in unison. We watched on, incredulous, as they popped some moves. How could we be so OUT OF IT!? We shuffled uncomfortably and folded our arms, until it finished, and the next song came on.

It was that sexually suggestive R&B song "Pony" by one hit wonders "Ginuwine". Remember??? GHASTLY.

We squealed and clapped our hands together. "OH WE LOVE THIS SONG!" we shouted, running onto the dancefloor to join the other guests.  They all stopped in their tracks, announcing "UGHHHH. HATE THIS SONG! HATE IT!". They left the dancefloor as quickly as we joined it.

We danced a little more self consciously then. I started to realise how crass the lyrics were, and tried to dance IRONICALLY to it, but the jig was basically up. I felt the eyes of the room on us.

    Ride it, my pony
    My saddle's waiting
   Come and jump on it...

After the song finished, we slunk away. Our beloved friend, one of the hosts, L, said to us "OH! I just KNEW you girls would like that song! SO FUNNY!" she smiled and laughed, genuinely (or should that be "ginuinely") delighted. We laughed nervously and changed the subject but I still felt  embarrassed.

Anyway I'm not sure exactly what the point of this story is except that it sticks in my head as a defining example of the difference between private schools and public schools. Like;

Fancy theatre/no fancy theatre
Air conditioned classrooms/75 million year old decrepit demountables with holey walls
Long skirts/Short skirts
Rock eisteddfod winners/rock eisteddfod losers

SEXUALLY SUGGESTIVE R&B ONE HIT WONDER/PROGRESSIVE FRENCH ELECTRONIC MUSIC OUTFIT DUO

File:Ginuwine wiki.jpg

VS

  




SEE how crazy big the public/private divide has become??? SEE??? It's a bloody travesty.

I think that there is something in that for all of us.

What's that you say? This whole post is rambling and makes no sense and the parallels I am drawing are confusing and you're not sure what I am getting at?

SHUT UUUUPPPP! IT MAKES SENSE TO ME OK? GAH!


*Understatement of the millennium

54 comments:

  1. My kids go to a private school. Now, I know you were not having a go sweets - but for anyone who thinks they might try, these are the facts:
    1.
    We do without luxuries to send them there. Do not have air con, don't have a pool, rarely go on holidays (last one was 3.5 years ago), I am driving a really cheap shit car. I do NOT say we are poor, but I have friends who use the money we use for school to go on holidays abroad a couple of times a year, have a pool and all that. There are people with a lot of money at our school, but most have two working parents. Including people who are cleaners and work at local supermarkets. I know this for a fact. You CANNOT categorise anyone who goes to our school as rich. They might be. They probably aren't. (Admittedly ours is not one of the very high fees schools).
    2.
    Anyone who dislikes or categorises a child for the school their parents send them to is a disgusting excuse for a human being. I have heard ADULTS make comments about children who go to private schools. Pathetic. Talk to me about it, pal, not my kids.
    3.
    Not only do we pay taxes, we pay taxes plus school fees, plus we don't take up a spot in the state schools. So go fuck yourself if you think we don't deserve any funding. Our school gets, I think, about a quarter of state school funding. Which is perfectly fair. To bad if you don't think so. You're wrong.
    4.
    I grew up in poverty, poverty like most people in Aus have never even seen. And I am so left wing it's not even funny. Not all private school parents are snobs or rabid conservatives.
    5.
    Why send them there? Two words. No. Bullying. I cannot speak for any other school, but at my kids' school bullying is dealt with very effectively. They try, they are stopped. They try again, they are stopped again. They try again, they are asked to leave. I hear some of you shouting - but that doesn't solve the bullying problem! Sure it does. For the victims. We can't fix the bullies, but we can protect the victims. As a person who was bullied and whose school was a very unsafe environment, my school memories are painful indeed. My children feel safe at school. It is a beautiful, kind environment and an ethos of respect. That's why.
    6.
    Just like state schools, all private schools are different. Generalising them and the people in them says much, much more about you than about the school itself. There is a very nice state school near here I would have sent mine to, had it been built when they were little. It wasn't. Our option was a shit hole. Too bad if people don't like that I chose not to send them to the shit hole cos we were lucky enough to have the funds to do so. And btw, when my son started at school, his fees were less than his kindy fees for 2 days a week of kindy. (Not any more though!)

    Sorry, I know this is preachy Sarah. But in case anybody felt moved to comment I thought I would refute all the usual nonsense first :)

    I am a HUGE supporter of state schooling and happy to pay taxes and give to the schools around here as I do. But NOBODY will tell me where to send my child to school or what to do with my own money. Go ahead and try.
    xo

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Ha! Longest comment ever. I would never have a go at anyone who sends their darlings to a private school, we are thinking of sending ours to one. I'm having a go at myself and mum. And I do believe that the difference between the two systems is becoming greater and greater and the pressures put on the state system are terrible.

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    2. Yes, I am not known for my brevity - Twitter is sometimes a wee bit difficult for me :) I know love. I just thought I would get in before anyone else started with the usual ill considered rhetoric.

      I agree, have worked in public and private and the differences are widening. Definitely need more tax paid funding to go to education.

      And one of my to's should have been a too. Says the OCD grammar freak :)
      xo

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    3. PS I love how much effort you out into your comments A. Nobody I know would consider bagging a child for their parents decision. Many of my friends live near great state schools in Brisbane so the choice for them is easier. I'm sorry that the state school options are so varied depending on where you live. I feel the same way about the private hospital issue.

      Delete
  2. As for fashion, I fail at fashion spectacularly, every single day. I am currently wearing my friendcuff, a Cheshire cat bracelet, a purplish hippy top someone gave me, a pair of shorts with an elasticated waist and a bleach mark on them (they match my trousers with the bleach mark on them) and I am about to go out back out and let the wind blow dry my hair again with the windows down on my car. I am a disgrace to the human race :D My contribution to the fashion world is - I wear clothes to go out and am usually clean.

    If you see a vague looking bag lady type wandering SE Qld, it might well be me...

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  3. Oh my what an emotive issue you've landed on this Monday morning. I'll have to side with Daft Punk on this one. And despite being public school through and through I never displayed the flesh - I believed myself to be too fat.
    Meanwhile I'm glad I can rely on you to give me the heads up on the 90s. I cant remember them.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Controversy is my middle name. NOT! And believe it or not, in evidence that my musical taste has come full circle, I married a private school boy and adore Daft Punks latest album!!!!

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  4. Since I went to [insert name of my old high school here] with you Sarah, & still live in the area, we (I!) have decided there is not a hope in hell our kids are going there! Since there really aren't any other public options available without moving, they will be going to a private high school. While there were lots of lovely people at [insert name of my old high school here], one of whom is my husband and many others are still friends, the large percentage of [insert swear word here] morons that attended [insert name of my old high school here] made it almost unbearable. I would have sent my kids to private from prep but my hubby wouldn't let me. And like the previous commenter, we are far from wealthy (which is why hubby wouldn't let me send them private from prep). Time to start saving :P

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I hear you. Public schools have to deal with all manner of social problems and corresponding behavioural issues. It's not an even playing field. Thank you so much for commenting K I know exactly who u are ;-)

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  5. I went to private school and I loved Ginuwine...and still do!
    And R. Kelly.
    I do love Daft Punk too though.
    I don't know what all this says about me. Or my education.

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    1. Caitlin it doesn't say anything because my analogy is totally STUPID and incomprehensible!!! Ha! All music is worthy. All schools are worthy.

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  6. I was a state school slapper and turned out ok.
    I do love me some Daft Punk though.
    Although do have recollections of maybe ridin 'mah pony with you Miss Slapdash on the Criterion dance floor circa 2005...? xx

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    Replies
    1. As much as I hate to admit it I think you might be right about that @sitdownmummy! It might have been that song that landed me on my bum in the slippery rum and coke spillage in the floor...

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  7. We live in Boganville, therefore we decided to send our boys to the Catholic school down the road when they started. Last year, we switched them over to the local public primary school after hearing from various people that is was a good school. It's worked out well, and we haven't had any problems. However, now our eldest is going into high school next year. Cue panic. The public high school has a seriousy bad rep. So we are applying to a Catholic school; but if he doesn't get in, we may have no choice but to send him to the pubic one and I'm FREAKING OUT. I'm trying to keep in mind that the school I went to had a bad rep too, and while it may not have been up there acaedemically, it wasn't as rough as people said. I think it was easier when they were babies. Sigh. Hold me. The bullying issue is what is worrying me, as well as the issue of drugs and my boys getting into the wrong sort of crowd. It's tough being bogans. *sobs*

    Love the 90's fashion too btw.

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    1. Ness this all sounds familiar, we live in a v outer suburban area with very low socioeconomic housing areas and consequently a lot of pressure on the state system so if we are still here when school looms I think it might be to the local catholic school for P too. It's so difficult and I wish it were more equal.

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  8. Forgive me if this is slightly off-topic, but the guys in Daft Punk met at a public high school in Paris, and they turned out alright.

    Granted they turned into robots....but still

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    Replies
    1. Paul this is so TRUE! Robots are the way of the future anyway!

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  9. I'm a private school girl who abhors the private school system. Have sent my boys to the local high school where the toilets are set on fire & police are called regularly. The girls fight worse than the boys & pregnancy classes involves having one of the Year 10's coming in with her newborn (& toddler in tow) to pass around to the Yr 8's...Not really but it's a tough school. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bahahahaha! Mine was a tough school too but I did ok.

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  10. Slapdash, I discovered Meatloaf when some of my friends were discovering The Cure. 1990 it was and I thought that my friends were INSANE. Now of course, while still having an affection for Paradise By The Dashboard lights (I can't wait any longer LORD I WAS CRAZED), I have long been aware that Meatloaf is not music, nor cool, nor credible in anyway. However, I can't believe I almost fell out with my friends over said music disparity. Thank goodness they had forgiving hearts and short memories. Xo

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    Replies
    1. Allison I just adore you! Long live Meatloaf!!!!!

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  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  12. Well, I'm going to skillfully avoid the public v private education issue as only someone who has experienced both can AND the fashion issue as someone who spent the evening in the pub with SD dressed like a cross between a Hillbilly and a Chainsaw Massacre tribute act oh, AND the music issue after being forced to listen to something called 'Pop Ate Itself' at 2am this morning - which actually leaves me with ... nothing to say .... BUGGER!

    Happy Monday NS - the sun is shining and I'm tired of riding sheep so I'm off to the BEACH - laters x

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  13. Another state school slapper here. Wow! The first commenter told you, Slapdash!! Do you need another lecture on "how it really is"? I teach at a state school and my own darlings go to state school. Beautiful, well-mannered kids with lovely, friendly, well-mannered friends. No demountables at mine or sons' school.

    And thank heavens no one likes Daft Punk. And thanking even higher than heaven that I don't know the song you mentioned. Just looked it upon YouTube. Oh! Slapdash, please say you no longer like that song. I will forgive you if it was a passing adolescence poor choice syndrome.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love Daft Punk now, ironically! LOVE THE NEW ALBUM! I do not have the same love for Ginuine any more.
      It's all good, @oculusmundi is a bloggie mate and she feels strongly about this stuff :-)

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    2. No worries, I meant more the length of post.

      Glad your musical taste has changed. So do you feel the need to contact the private school party girl and let her know you now have better taste. Or would that reek of desperateness? Or maybe she follows your blog and is secretly jealous of your sense of humour, your witty scratchings, your popularity on the 'net but is repressed by her own lifestyle choice and envies your freedom. Just like your long, free-hanging hair and manky tarty short school skirt.

      Delete
    3. Hahaha! My friend is still a good friend who would think this was all v amusing. She is sweet and lovely and believe it or not she is a talented writer who has a book deal from a blog she was writing!!!! I KNOW! Amazing.

      Delete
  14. No, the first commenter was addressing any tired old chestnuts and ridiculous generalisations about private or state schools before they were trotted out - and the first commenter knows that Sarah did not, and would not, do that.

    But then, if you read the comment, you already know that.

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  15. I went to a public school. I think more emphasis needs to be put on Education, regardless of where it comes from. Where I grew up most of the boys were going to be pig catchers or rousebouts so they didn't see the need for education.
    There wasn't a great deal of violence in my school, comes from a small town where everyone knows everyone I think. Also possibly because my class was just too damn lazy to do anything like that. We were actually called the laziest class that our head of department had ever taught, so that was an achievement. Despite our laziness though all of the people in Grade 12 got first preference for UNI degrees.

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    1. I endorse laziness! And they can't have been too lazy to get their first preference! I didn't get mine, which was law. Was devo

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  16. Im so old I dont know what daft punk is! help

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    Replies
    1. Look it up on You Tube! They are an electronic music duo from Europe! Very COOL , baby!!

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  17. Daft Punk are amazing!!That video Around the World is amazing
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9MszVE7aR4 with all those mad mannequins! super groovy

    Ginuwine wasn't as bad as the Flo Rida song Blow My Whistle it kind of makes me feel a bit sick when all my kids are singing along to it 'Blow my whistle baby whistle baby take it slow' Actually for the longest time I thought it was just about blowing whistles which makes me very naive

    Here's my fashion faux pax confessions:
    http://mommyhasaheadache.blogspot.com/2010/09/tribal-wives-christmas-sweater-set.html

    Do you have the horrendous Christmas Sweater down under or is it too hot at christmas to wear it? (I am in USA)
    xx

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    Replies
    1. Hi Emma! OMG HOW HAVE I NOT READ YOUR BLOG BEFORE! Thank you for commenting!!! And YES that Flo Rida song is HEINOUS!
      I loved your post so much! I am off to check out your book.

      It is FAR TOO HOT down under for Christmas sweaters (or JUMPERS as we call them). There are ample opportunities for sweaty Xmas party outfit disgraces though - PLENTY!

      Delete
  18. What a great post. I reckon there are awesome state schools and awesome private schools - and dodgy examples of both too. I did time in both state and private myself - saw goods and bads in each system. BUT the funniest memory you've brought back to me is the moment a nun took me aside in my first week at a Catholic school (having been at a state school for the previous few years) and told me to get mum to lengthen my dress! Clearly I thought the short skirt was the go! And musically, it was AC/DC vs B52s when I changed from one world to the other. Funny how important all of that seemed at the time :)

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    1. YES you are quite right Lara, good and bad in both. THAT IS HILARIOUS about the nun! hilarious! And how WEIRD is it that there were musical differences for you too? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN!?!?!?

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  19. this could be the best post ever.
    AND I totally had those pants! I loved them! I will have to show you somehow... it's too hilarious not to. circa 1997 from Miss Shop. such checkered bootleggedness will never be forgotten.

    do not even get me started on private vs public. (although I do have a post or two in my head about it.)
    I went to semi-private catholic co-ed. nuf said.

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    1. BRON YOU NEED TO POST A PIC OF THEM ON MY FB PAGE! NOW!

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  21. Do you remember Stussy pants? The private school girls had them. I was one, but I wore the pov version. I went to a private school, but hated Daft Punk. I love Air though. Does this complicate things? I was busy listening to the Pumpkins, the Offspring, and Greenday. I didn't fit in, but the education was pretty good. My muso friends and I did our own 'weirdo' thing. Great post. Great uncrap allegory.

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    1. Stussy! Yes! I forget what they looked like? Must Google! I was actually more of a grungey fan and worshiped at the altar of Eddie Vedder. Oh yes.

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  22. Far out man! You've sparked a big one here!

    I went to a state school and have only ever taught at state schools. HOWEVER, this year, I sent my kid to a private christian school. We lived in a not-so-crash-hot area and I was very familiar with the schools. I could afford the private school and opted for that. Now that I've moved to a different area it's public all the way for infants and primary. No question.
    Now onto more important issues. I was a grunge fan. When Kurt Cobain died, so did a part of me. I also had a loose version of your pants. Shiz fo sho.

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    1. Grunge was really my thing too - see my comment to Kim. Pearl Jam were GODS TO ME! A weird mixture of R and B and Grunge formulated my musical education. ECLECTIC!

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  23. Replies
    1. Hehe! That's what Mr 4 though of your post!

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  24. I Ginuinely enjoyed this post.

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    1. I Ginuinely appreciate you commenting Mama Veg!

      Delete
  25. I went to a private school for a term, but completed my schooling at a public school where the uniform including tracksuit pants in winter and skirts (short/skirt) in summer!

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    Replies
    1. Track suit pants! So CHIC! We used to wear trackers underneath our skirts in winter!

      Delete
  26. If I'd been to a private school
    I'd spend a year in a crack den, non compos mentis
    If I'd been to a private school
    I'd get into smack, then have my own personal dentist

    ReplyDelete

Vent your spleen! You know you want to.

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