MICHAEL WALKER IS BACK!
(An over-my-shoulder-look at life)
For the past few years I have been more or less regularly contributing a weekly column entitled A-musings to page 2 of this newspaper. Generally speaking, these scribblings have been well received, except of course by my daughter-in-law who felt that the articles were badly written and made me a figure of ridicule within and without her immediate circle of Lucian society.
But anyhow, be that as it may, I have decided to terminate my A-musings and turn instead to Reflections, which I have called “an over-the-shoulder-look at life”; life in this case being my life, mainly. Since Kenny Anthony’s demise and retirement from political wheeling and dealing, the environment for satire and protest has become much less interesting: less ripe. Even the perennial fiddling with public funds by those bedecked with the trappings of their skimmings and backhanders has become so blatantly open and obvious that pointing out their excesses has become meaningless.
When I was young it seemed there were almost countless equally young but just as opinionated “angry young men” who created novels and plays all about the injustices of society. Of course, many of these playwrights became successful and their anger seemed to diminish as their fame and wealth increased.
Let’s pause for a second, dear reader: Did you notice the word “playwright”? I suppose you did. I am sure the thought passed through your mind that a person who writes plays should be called a “playwrite” or at least, though less elegantly, a “playwriter”. I mean, where did that wright come from? It can’t be right, can it? Is there some rite of passage, some transformation that occurs when a person ceases to be a mere scribbler and suddenly becomes a writer? By the way, the online Urban Dictionary defines a “wrighter” as “a writer who honestly believes in what he writes, is committed to truth; a wrighter is intransigent in his work.” Which to me seems fairly nonsensical.
A housewright is a builder of wooden houses, a wheelwright is a maker and repairer of wheels and wheeled vehicles; a shipwright is a carpenter skilled in ship construction and repair; a plowwright is one who makes or repairs plows, and a playwright writes plays, and that’s about it!
Oh, shit! Sorry, merde! Amazing, isn’t it, how much more elegant things sound when expressed in another language. I was supposed to be explaining the difference between an A-musings and a Reflections but I kind of got carried away on a lexical anomaly, which is quite normal where I am concerned.
My life has not been exceptional. In fact, it has probably been much like your own with ups and downs, highs and lows, sprinkled with disappointments and pleasant surprises, so don’t expect too much. What I have tried to do is to search through my memory banks to find events that might have changed my life in some way or, at least, affected the way I view things.
I’ve always been a teacher, a pedant perhaps, and I find that I try to learn lessons in everything I do. Sometimes, these lessons are pretty awful. Take for example the day I filled my pants with merde. I wasn’t very old at the time and there would have been no way I could have spelled diarrhea or diarrhoea— depending on which side of the Atlantic you happened to be afflicted—so suffice to say I was suffering from a very loose stomach. And I was in school. I must have been eight or nine and I was in Miss Clarke’s class. I suppose she wasn’t bad, as a teacher. In those days I had no way of telling one way or the other but I do recall that she was a tyrant and we were all pretty scared of her. In my recollection, she was old, very old, and thin. No one, but no one, ever spoke out of turn in her class. Every lesson had a quiet moment that sometimes lasted quite a few moments, minutes even, and woe betide anyone foolhardy enough to break the silence.
Well there I was with my stomach churning and my bowels straining for relief. I raised my hand. She ignored me. “Miss," I squeaked. I tried again. In fact I made several attempts to explain my dilemma. Each time she silenced me with a glance full of malice. The pain was palpable. I squeezed the cheeks of my buttocks as tightly as I could and tried to stand. I estimated that if I could just get to the door and escape the room I might have a chance to reach the boys’ toilets down the corridor in time to avoid a catastrophe, but there was to be no reprieve. Quick as a flash, Miss Clarke leaped from the chair behind her desk and grabbed me by the collar of my shirt as my bowels emptied and I felt the stuff running down the back of my thighs. My shame was complete. That moment, I swore by everything I could that if ever I became a teacher I would treat my pupils with respect and afford them the dignity they deserved, whatever the situation or circumstances. It was, in the true sense of the word, a shitty experience.