Pay Attention

by Kenneth W. Simpson


Who respected dedication and self-loving care? Only brainwashed tools and innocent fools. Experienced cynics and tolerant tyros sat and waited in the new school hall.

The silly old fool is about to spout.
What’s he going to talk about?
Teamwork, sacrifice, all that crap.
Patriotism and pride, the old standby.
But the hall is nice. I like its style;
It’s a temple, Roy: the old man’s grail.
Do you mean it’s not for us?
We’re furniture sap, with hands to clap.

A mass of heads and unconscious minds. A captive audience for a driven man, caught and taught by ambitious thoughts, plastic clay in mechanical hands.

Second in command, a noble man, fanatically zealous, but rotting away with dangerous delusions. A big, strong man who knows the reasons but finds it difficult to pose the questions that lead the way to responsible answers.

A new beginning, Ben. A tough year ahead.
I’m sure we’ll cope. It’s our only hope.
Teamwork, Ben: pulling together.
I’d bring back the rack and crack some backs.
Don’t forget my reputation and the school’s good name.
Your name and the school’s reputation.
Well put, Ben; that’s all that counts.
So beat, if you must, but try and be just
I’ll lock the door before...
Yes, yes, of course. You know the ropes.

Third and fourth in command, then down to recruits and mercenary men. A worthy vocation for aspiring idealists whose aim is to enlighten.

I’m new. Who are you?
Perverted commas. I’m sick, they say.
Good God... and who is that?
Question Mark. He isn’t sure.
It was this or the army for me.
This is supposed to be my career.
Smile, dear, smile (he said with a leer),
You’ve yet to get to the end of this year.
I defected from Disneyland.
There’s a dangerous one. He’s got a gun!
That bulge you mean? Don’t be obscene.

All is in readiness for the Principal’s oration. The hall is full of chattering children, strategically observed by wary teachers.

Boys, teachers, everyone,
Your trials are over:
I am back. Lend me your ears
I’ll give then back. Ha, Ha
The new year awaits
As we navigate together
This ocean of turbulence.
So prepare for battle (cattle)
If you misbehave, don’t.
Rubbish won’t be tolerated.
Don’t write on lavatory walls,
But feel free to disagree
Even with me.
You know I’m tough.
‘He’s hard’, they say, ‘but just’.
Follow my lead and aim high.
The world is your oyster.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Onward, Christian soldiers.
Somewhere over the rainbow...

The headmaster’s speech is about to follow. In any large institution it is necessary to have discipline and order. Rules and respect for authority are the means to attain this end. A benevolent, but strict father-figure is needed for this purpose.

Listen carefully, you rabble:
I killed a boy last year.
It could have been you.
Self-defence, of course,
But he deserved his fate:
A bad lad. Like you know who!
I’m mad. It’s a well-known fact
I have fits. Repeat after me,
All together now... Again...
Keep in time... Louder!
Who said ‘Drop Dead’?
A traitor in our midst?
Confess, you craven cur,
Whoever or whatever you are.
Anyone who knows
Must talk and betray
A hornets’ nest. A regular mire.
Sabotage, treason! I need your help
To free you all, and me as well
Consensual sex and lots of pot
For names, just rewards for patriotism...

The new recruit with head held high, prances, with short tapping steps, along a corridor towards a classroom. While doing so he is confronted by a cheeky boy.

How do you do and who are you?
Just call me ‘Sir’ (I love that sound).
Yes, sir, Sir. My name is Brown (as in ‘brown cow’).
Well, hello, Brown. Just call me Sir.
Hello, Sir, you can call me Brown.

In another classroom the teacher is using his knowledge of psychology to counsel a troubled youth, Let’s eavesdrop and find out how he manages.

Hand me the duster, buster.
Here. Now you can wipe my bum.
You’ll drive me mad, you ungrateful lad.
Toast me, roast me, make me glow.
You’re like a soft, damp rotten log.
Kick and crush me, I’m sure to bust
Ashes to ashes and dust to dust
Sift and scatter me, shake and batter me.
You’re sad and mad, crazy too,
I know, but can you cry for me?
Sit down and work, you lazy jerk.

Some teachers gain maximum benefit from their lessons by asking questions and treating each topic like a pleasurable game, as members of the class vie with each other to give the correct answers. The lesson is about to begin.

Now, where is Rome? Yes, boy!
Rome is home, from where I come.
Not what! Where? Does anybody know?
There’s no place like home,
But where the hell is Rome?
I know but I’m not telling...
What about you over there!
I don’t care
You ignorant oaf!
Do you know where Rome is?
Of course I do
Well, why ask us?

The ability to understand current trends in student thinking, and capitalise on this distinguishes dedicated teachers from their not so fortunate colleagues. It is axiomatic that the teacher who conveys to his or her students a sense of comradeship and understanding will gain their respect, cooperation and even admiration. As it happens, a teacher is developing such a theme at this very moment.

Age should not divide us,
I can see your point of view.
If you’d like to protest,
I’ll see what I can do.
I hate the bloody headmaster,
I could cut the bugger’s throat.
This school stinks of nothingness,
and here’s the antidote!
First, I’d swab the teachers
then disinfect you boys.
I’d eliminate the bad ones
and stop their vicious ploys.
I’d burn the bloody place down
and leave a sweet, charred heap
of disaffected ashes
and the smell of mindless sheep.

The last period of the day can be a tough time for all concerned. Often problems arise due to tiredness and tension, and it may be advisable to turn the other cheek.

I hate you, miss.
I love you, dear.
It’s not right, it isn’t fair.
I’m sure it’s true; I love you, dear.
What are you talking about?
Something inside, I love you, dear.
Why? I want to scream and shout.
Listen to me. I love you, dear.
I only hear you being nice to me.
I love you, miss.
I love you, dear.


Copyright © 2015 by Kenneth W. Simpson

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