Monday, March 14, 2005

Internal scripts

I've just watched, for the first time since 1968 this movie[^] (To Sir, with Love). Back then it was a school excursion; given the subject of the movie and the fact that I went to one of the worst schools in Melbourne I have to assume the excursion was an exercise in optimism. Perhaps not though, the following year we had another excursion, to see this movie[^]. (If...)

The first thing I remember from my first viewing of To Sir, With Love, way back when, was that I wished I was attending a co-educational school; ours was boys only. Those mysteries, the girls, attended a girls only school half a mile down the road. Naturally this lead to a pressure cooker atmosphere; I remember one day the rumour spread throughout the school that if one rubbed ones left forefinger across the left side of ones nose that meant that one was interested in having sex (as if they needed a signal ). If the girl was similarly interested she'd reciprocate! Can you imagine the sight of a thousand schoolboys unleashed on Footscray Shopping centre that afternoon; all of us frantically rubbing our noses if a girl came into view? And can you imagine the disappointment when not a single female nose was similarly rubbed?

Well that's the way I remember it.

The second thing I remember is the way the kids seemed to get away with just about everything in the movie. You have to understand that I was 14 at the time and at that age one believes rather more in what one sees on the screen than in later life. (I hadn't seen The Blackboard Jungle[^] at that time). There was a delicious thrill of imagining that one could confront old Mr Godfrey with insolence and escape unscathed. The reality was otherwise.

One afternoon one of our number farted. A silent but deadly. The smell was truly awful. We all laughed as we choked but our science teacher (A Mr Diedrichs if I remember rightly) was not impressed. Since none of us would admit responsibility we were detained. He treated us to a mixture of chemicals of a deplorable olfactory nature. This was 1968 - I suspect some idiot parent would mount a lawsuit these days. On the other hand, I'll bet not one of us since then has committed a similar sin. Well I did but under completely different circumstances that I might discuss sometime hence.

The didactic purpose of the movie was, however, totally lost on us. I don't mean that we didn't react the in the same way to those teachers we respected because we did. But we did it because they had earned our respect; not because we saw some movie. I can't even remember the name of our form 4 class master from 1969 (it might have been Mr Evans but I'm not sure) but I remember that at the end of 1969 we all of us were proud to shake his hand and agreed that he was a good egg, even those of us who'd hated his guts at the start of 1969.

Most of us left school at the end of 1969 - I did. I was 15 and a half years old and about to enter the full time workforce.

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