... will explain what i mean by that opening statement later when i work out what i meant by it
Well things have happened o-o
The hawk flies. The hawk is beautiful. The hawk goes into trees and then comes back and the other day the hawk tried to catch a pigeon - or at least, I think the hawk tried to catch a pigeon. The hawk left my glove and started across a field, and usually the hawk only flies to the nearest tree if the hawk fancies a bit of a gander, and then a pigeon panicked and burst out from underneath the hawk and the hawk sort of turned in its direction and stumbled a bit (note: it is actually physically possible for a bird to stumble in mid-air and it is tear-jerkingly beautiful) and then it kind of gave up after a couple of feet and came back looking stunned.
Or at least, as close to stunned as the hawk gets, which is to say mildly annoyed confusion.
I remember being told a long time ago that having a child is basically just constant terror for the first 12 months. I did not understand how one could go through constant terror for 12 months, or why people would then continue to have children.
After one month of owning a hawk, I can fully say that I understand what it is like to be filled with constant terror.Everything
could go wrong. The leash on the perch was too long; when the hawk jumped it might have hurt its legs. A bit of wire was sticking out from under the stones - the hawk might have cut its feed and gotten an infection. The infection might turn into bumblefoot. The bumblefoot could kill it. The bumblefoot might lead to a necessary amputation. The amputation could kill it. The food wasn't defrosted properly - it might kill it if I don't leave it out for a few more hours. The food was out for too long - it might kill it if I don't turn back time and keep it frozen for a few hours longer. The food was too much. The food was too little. The food was too fresh. The food was too old. The hawk's weight dropped suddenly last night - the hawk might have a stomach virus that could kill it in two days. The hawk is breathing through its mouth - it might have respiratory disease. Its eyes seem to be narrowed; it might have any disease at all. The hawk screamed more yesterday than it did today. The hawk screamed less yesterday than it did today. Is that a change in behaviour? Does that warrant a health check? It was too cold last night. It might have frostbite right now that I haven't seen yet. It was too hot last night - I shouldn't have left the heat lamp on, it might be dehydrated. It's too hot. It's too cold. The hawk is too lonely. The hawk is too spoiled. The hawk didn't produce a casting this morning. The hawk produced a casting earlier this morning. The hawk produced a casting that is marginally different to yesterday's casting this morning. The hawk landed in a tree and hasn't come back - the hawk could have its feet stuck, the hawk could have fallen, the hawk could have broken something, the hawk could have flown off, the hawk could have been attacked by a wild buzzard. There was a noise in the back garden. It could be a rat attacking the hawk. It could be the hawk attacking the rat that it catches a disease off. It could be a fox attacking the hawk. It could be the dogs attacking the hawk. It could be the dogs attacking the fox... Which is somehow bad for the hawk. Did I lock the outer door? Yes. Did I lock the inner door? Ye- yes? Is someone stealing the hawk? Is that what the noise was? I had better get up and look out the window. For the eighteenth time in twenty minutes. Except that I can't see very well from up here. I had better go down and check. I had better turn all the lights on in the house to be sure. I probably shouldn't, because then I won't get enough sleep to do well at college tomorrow. College probably killed the hawk. It's possible. We've all heard horror stories about that sort of thing happening.It is constant.
And worth it for the moment I cast the hawk off and the hawk leaps into the air and swoops low and beats its wings and soars high and twists through the branches into a tree and looks back at me with that single question and I can just nod and smile and hold out my fist and the hawk comes back without hesitation or fail and then hunches onto the glove and looks at me with so much more trust and familiarity than any other person the hawk has been around.
I'm a mother.I'm a mother.
Also college was started!
It is... Good. But not the same. I think my answer whenever anyone asks me about it kind of sums up what I feel about it: "Yeah, it's... Good.
Because it is. It's a good college. It's a very good college. And my classes are... Good.
I started to really look forward to sixth form over the summer, I guess because I missed school. And we were warned that it wouldn't be the same and I didn't think it was going to be the same, but... But I think I was kind of hoping it would be the same.
There's no more English. And I really, really miss English. Specifically sitting in the back of English, taking O-er's Hob-Nobs* and sassing Miss S. from across the room. I miss Form. Killing T-om. Throwing things at S-eb. Fighting with J-osh. Whilst killing T-om. I miss J-et. Didn't realise how much I would miss J-et - J-et in Form, in RE, in PE, in Science, making sarky comments and then nodding across with this silent nod of respect we had for each other that was by the end of Year Eleven "Yes, I acknowledge that you are badass and that I am also badass, however we must not confront our badassery for then one or the other will be compromised and this would be a breach of badassery
" - I miss PE! I miss dodgeball! I miss bench netball! I played bench netball for five years! I won bench netball for five years! I miss Miss H. in the library. I miss C-ry and the other drama kids. I miss teaching the little shits drama on a Thursday afternoon. And little J-ck. How is little J-ck doing without me? I promised I'd look after him. I did. I scared off that other kid who was going for him. I let him through the shortcut so that he could get to lesson on time and not get into trouble. I stopped and listened to him even when I was late for something because he is so bright and brilliant that he deserves to be listened to even though no-one usually has time because he talks so slowly even if when he eventually gets to the point it's a good one. I miss Maths. Miss T. French with Mrs. T. and Miss C. who I just found out some very bad news about and I want to somehow have a chance to care about it. I miss the stupid bloody hill outside school I walked up for five years and that never got easier.
It's getting better. We went on an adventure day at the end of the first week of term to get to know each other, and it was actually a good, noticeable difference when we came back - there's J-ny, she's quite cute, and J-na, definitely nice, and B-th whose dad is a fricking falconer
, and those Upper Sixth students who are kind of like the Year Elevens when I was in Year Seven who made me sure of what kind of Year Eleven I wanted to be, except now I'm Lower Sixth which is after Year Eleven and I'm the Year Eleven I wanted to be except I'm Lower Sixth again and they're the Year Elevens now. I'm enjoying most of the Biology and am kind of bordering on the Maths but generally liking it and the Chemistry is pretty decent and the Performing Arts is... Different. But it's not the same.
It's not Ribbie.
It's St. Christopher's. It's not
the same - it was never going to be. But I think more importantly, I'm not the same. Or I am. Which is... The problem?
So when I came into Year Seven it was going to be a new start. But I kind of failed at that and ended up turning into what I'd not wanted to be, which was quiet and bullied and too intelligent for her own good. And through Year Eight I started to push my way up because I think that was about the time things started to break. And that was an arrogance that through Year Nine was tempered a little and through Years Ten & Eleven became a quiet, assertive, knowledgeable confidence. So everyone from class of '09 at Ribbie knew me as the first one at the beginning, and then by the time it was 2014 and we were leaving I was sixteen and I was different but they had still known me and seen me grow. And teachers had had the quiet and polite intelligence early on, so they recognised that the cocky smile and the talking back was just an assertion alongside the genuine ability to study and work hard. Oh yes, by Year Eleven I was smart - but I was also clever.
They say Don't be smart: be clever
It means that you can be intelligent, but there are different ways to use it.
I didn't used to have pride. Nilch. No pride, plenty of shame. Well I had pride, I just quelled it through a kind of dull self-hatred and the idea that if I pretended not to be proud then I wouldn't have anything to be ashamed about.
I still have plenty of shame, I just hide it by pride now.
Now I have both pride and intelligence, and because at Ribblesdale they knew me from being 11 and having no pride but intelligence, they - they
being both students and teachers - kind of let me get away with having plenty of pride and intelligence because it was clearly much healthier for me than being a buried and self-loathing ball of lonely hatred.
At St. Christopher's they have not had this transition. Immediately I'm 'ballsy' (haven't heard that used in a while, but I kind of like it - same as cocky, really, but differenter) and have a quick grin and talk just a little too clever. No, not clever: smart. For other students this is quite good, I think: it gives the right message. When we had the taster day partway through the summer holidays, to help us decide if the college was right for us, some of the girls in the Performing Arts group looked like they were setting to move on. I have described and discussed Ribblesdale many times before, but for the latecomers let me just ask you to picture the rough school in your area, the chavvy one that has minimal budget and takes in every student that gets kicked out of the other schools (we had maybe four or five students join us every year after being expelled from other schools - if you got expelled, you were sent to Ribblesdale. If you got expelled from Ribblesdale, you went to a Young Offenders' Institute. That happened a couple of times too. Those were rough times) - that was where I came from. Remember, also, that in the UK we have to stay in education until 16, so even the kids you can't imagine being in school because they dropped out at age 11 or whatever are still going to that school. My school. And it has that reputation. Oh, it has that reputation. Well now I say where I came from to people and they kind of go "Oh- oh.
" And then look at me like "Really? You?
On the taster day in Performing Arts we had to say our name and where we came from and I said Ribblesdale and there was a kind of low jeer and I basically just bit my tongue and grinned because they way I've found to get over where I come from is to use it. So I did. We had to make a short piece of drama about 'New Beginnings
'; one of the group's was a girl who got expelled from her school and got sent to Ribblesdale, and they were all sat around telling stories of how they got sent to Ribblesdale for killing a teacher or selling heroin to Year Sevens.
And the me that came out of Year Eleven wasn't taking this shit. So I just grinned and laughed louder than the rest of them and that seemed to make the actors kind of confused as it was meant to, and later one of them did exactly what I had wanted, and asked me what I had done to get into Ribblesdale.
And I just said "Well I wasn't selling heroin to Year Sevens.
And that did it. That effing did it. First impression, made. Deal, done. No more shit from that side: I had done what I intended.
Because I have to maintain this impression. Sorry, yes, back onto what I was actually starting to say (I have a lot of stories about the Performing Arts classes already and most of them end with me doing or saying something awesome; I'm rather marvellous) - the impression. Impression = Tough. Hoody. Scruffy. Ballsy. Ribblesdale.
Reality = Intelligent and slightly melodramatic.
Students from Ribblesdale: knew reality. Learned to see only impression when needed to enough to be warned off when faced with reality.
Teachers from Ribblesdale: knew reality. Learned to ignore impression in light of actually quite good grades and the realisation that I show respect in a non-conventional way.
Students from St. Christopher's: don't know reality. See impression. Scared or in awe or also slightly "Jeez, who does that bitch think she is?
Majority of teachers from St. Christopher's: can guess at reality. See impression, ignore it in light of having seen GCSE results and the feeling they get that there is actually a kind of respect there.
One teacher who teaches half of my Biology and Chemistry lessons: does not see reality. Does not know reality. Seems extremely confused by good grades combining with being a smart-mouth. Is offended by cheeky smile and slouch. Varies between looking at me in a weird "I have a feeling I should be nice to you yet you repel me on a molecular level
" way, and just being annoyed at me.
Let us go back to I am Hoody, Hear Me Swear
: we have discovered that I am genetically deposed toward hoodies and angry music and swearing in the street. Ribbie really was the right place for me. And I kind of feel as if the change wasn't noticed at Ribblesdale because, again, it was gradual and I was loved by the point I started to be a dick-head so people didn't care as much. And at St. Christopher's, I am already pretty liked because apparently there is something quite endearing for most people about me. I've no idea why. I seem to be a terrible person most of the time. So admittedly I was trying
to push it, mostly to see how far I could go.
I've never been good with uniform. It breaks on me. But I did try from Years Seven to Ten - then in Year Eleven I gave up and untucked my shirt and wore a jumper without a blazer and put on odd socks, and then discovered that people didn't really care. Now, the sixth form's rules on jumpers state, as far as I can decipher, that one can wear a black jumper or jacket beneath one's blazer. The Ribblesdale rule was that one may wear only a jumper or cardigan branded by the school logo beneath one's blazer, however it was more popular to remove one's blazer and wear only the jumper, and this was generally accepted as an okay thing to do because who really gives a shit
. Other than my Ribblesdale-branded school jumper, I do not have a black jumper or jacket.
Except one. An all-black hoodie with the minor inconvenience of having the Killjoys spider in bright yellow across the left breast.It was cold last week.
I've been doing little pushes throughout the term just to see what I can do. How late can I be without getting in trouble? For most teachers, who appreciate that three floors is a long way to go
, only as late as is really polite. For That Teacher, 30 seconds is tardy. I skipped Form one day mostly to see how important it was and then J-ny came running up almost in tears saying that my new Form tutor, Miss S. (it's a Miss S. but a different Miss S. and I can't I just can't), was very angry and I should never never never
skip Form it is not allowed
and I prepared my desperate, tear-fuelled excuse. Then I went down and Miss S. just laughed and was like "Haha, did you forget about Form again?
" and I was like "Yeeeeaaaahhh that's what happened
" and that was probably a dangerous power Miss S. gave me. My Maths teacher came into the library three days in a row and saw me doing her homework, and on the fourth day took me aside at the end of lesson and told me quietly that I could have an extra week on this one if I wanted because I was clearly trying so hard already. Then told someone else off for not finishing their homework and told them that they couldn't stay on the course if they couldn't keep up.
My Ribblesdale powers are kicking in again. The teachers, they see past the impression. They see the nerd beneath the hoodie
That Teacher does not see the nerd beneath the hoodie.
So I brought my hoodie to school because we have dance as part of Performing Arts first thing on a Monday and I thought why not. And it was really cold in Form so I put it on, figuring hey, it's just Form. And the Form tutor was fine with it. Then the Head of Uniform
came in and I was like shhiiiiiiiiiiitt
and I put on my blazer and then leant forward to cover up the spider but she didn't even comment. I passed her later in the corridor, not making an effort to cover it up - so the hood of the jumper and the spider were both clearly visible - and there was no comment. I went into first lesson and took it off. It was very cold, so the teacher told me I could put it back on if I wanted. So I did. First I wore my blazer over the top, out of respect, and then I took it off because blazers are really uncomfortable. Then I walked past the Head of Year wearing quite clearly a hoodie with a bright yellow spider on the left breast and he just smiled and nodded at me like he always does. Then I had another lesson and I wore it and all was well. Then I had a free period and wore it in the library and all was well.
Then I was walking to another lesson
after lunch - so not going into her class, not disturbing her, not altering her life in any way
- and I passed the door of That Teacher, and as I take one step I just hear "TAKE THAT THING OFF WHILE YOU ARE IN SCHOOL.
Ohhhohoh I stopped dead.
For clarification, I was wearing my blazer at this point, and standing at such an angle that the spider could not be seen. So what had she seen? She had seen black material under the blazer - which is allowed - and a hood - which I do not see anywhere as being strictly forbidden.
And I smiled, and I apologised, and I took it off.
My smile was black. She smiled back blacker. My apology was in a sincere tone that did perhaps not match the look in my eyes. It was spat right back at me. The taking-off was studied with a mere upturned nose and disgusted expression.
We just did a Biology and a Chemistry test for her, and in both I did extremely well. This bemused her. No, more than that - it angered
her. I could see it. How dare
this student who wears a jumper in school and smiles sarcastically do well
on a test?
I defy a scapegoated expectation?* you had to ask him for his nob. he would only give you a hob nob biscuit if you asked him for his nob.
i asked for a lot of o-er's nob.+ "someone tried to climb out of the window in your geography?"
"i came from ribblesdale."
"your head boy got arrested?"
"came from ribblesdale."
"they thought you were a drug dealer? because you were in a hoody and a backpack? outside school?"
"so you were a drug dealer?"
So here we have three things:
- Scotland does not become independent;
- Rao becomes a mother;
- Rao appears to have grown up in college but is also accepted as a rounded being and yet outcast for her immaturity.
These seem linked, hence why I started on the tangent in the first place, I just can't really seem to put a direction on it. I'm also trying to be careful not to piss off the Scottish (it's difficult; it happens very easily).
Maybe I am unlike Scotland because I have a mothering responsibility, implying moving on and becoming independent. Maybe I am unlike Scotland because by Year Eleven I was the kind of Year Eleven I wanted to be when I was Year Seven. Maybe I am unlike Scotland because I'm Lower Sixth now and I'm used to being Year Eleven - yes, I think that's something like it.
My goal in life through high school was to be that Year Eleven that I looked up to. C-ry and J-ck and all the other lower-school kids I looked after proved to me, I think, that I had achieved that. Why? Because they are who I was in Year Seven. And I am who I looked up to.
But now I'm Lower Sixth. I'm looking up again, this time to Upper Sixth. I achieved my life goal, but I'm still not who I'm finally going to be. I can't be entirely happy with who I am yet; I have to be that Upper Sixth student I look up to.
I am very much like Scotland.