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
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