It struck me today that since everything we do these days is to prepare for what is going to happen in September next year, this time in this school is actually coming to an end. It’s just a few more months after the New Year, and then it’s over – and that actually makes me sad because while I whinge and complain about having to come here, I really like this school.

It has been the best one that I’ve attended yet, and is certainly miles and miles above what I went to two years ago. I remember this summer, when Mark and I were in Sweden, and I took him to see my old school – and apart from my main teacher and the music teacher, I struggled to immediately recall the name of any of the teachers.

I doubt that will be the case two years from now, because unlike those teachers, the ones I have now are so good and so demanding. I think they’ve done me good. I think their ‘no-shit’-attitude toward us, and not treating us like sausages but as people with minds and opinions and quirks that ought to own their own words and thoughts have challenged me like nothing has ever done.

I think that I can honestly say that the teachers I have now are the best I have ever had, and I wonder how the bar could be raised in University. If it is, they must be awesome.

Luckily they don’t read my blog, and don’t know it exists, so I can say this without having to blush tomorrow as one of them hands out a print-out to the class, saying “look at what Col wrote on his blog”. I think I would die if that happened.

There are principles at work here. The staff is the enemy of all that is good and proper, and that must be kept in mind all the time, and it should be stressed that the staff take a particular joy from presenting us with unannounced mocks. Horrible.

***

Is sparing someone’s feelings cruel of kind? I’ve been wondering about this because we have a transfer into our class from somewhere out to the west country, and this girl is seriously overweight, and her diet consists of sweets and fizzy drinks, and I struggle to think of a time when she didn’t forgo the somewhat nutritional school lunches for chocolate bars and unhealthy fast food from the dispensaries or the chippies down in the town centre.

Yet, she is the first one to bring up all the problems associated with her weight, and she will list a litany of things that are wrong with her that have made her so overweight. I recognise this because I used to think like that myself. It wasn’t the fact that I was comfort eating sweets and chocolate when I was over-weight, no it must be glands or having big bones, or what-ever.

So, I’m wondering if it would be cruel to point to her diet as the most likely source of her troubles, rather than some disease. Or would it be a kindness to just shut the hell up when she goes on about how her hormones or glands or whatever make her metabolism disjointed and flawed? But doesn’t agreeing with her contribute to perpetuating the poor image she has of herself?

I used to be so full of excuses for my weight too. And I was an imaginative twelve-year old so I could think of a lot of excuses that would allow me to keep eating the chocolate and the crisps when I was sad, rather than do the nightmare work I ended up doing to get rid of that weight. On the other hand, saying something isn’t likely to motivate her to do some exercises and stop eating rubbish, is it?

So, I can’t decide if it would be cruel or kind to shut up, or if it would be cruel or kind to say something. Or something in between?

***

Jargon is interesting, in the light of this. Me, Ben and Abbie have a jargon between each other that could be interpreted to be highly offensive. A brief listen to our conversation could possibly convince the listener that we were deeply resentful toward each other.

But that is a context thing. Stephen, Mark and I have a different context, and we’re not at all like that, and the jargon I use with Ben and Abbie would be totally inappropriate with Stephen. He would be offended, I think. He’s not used to that. He is a bit too literal for that kind of thing. He wants to be liked, and takes mocking, even if done in jest, more literally.

Mark and I have a third context, with a lot of jabs and ironies toward each other in some circumstances, and then lovey-dovey in other circumstances. By now I’m pretty good at reading when to be ironic and when to be lovey-dovey.

With the overweight I don’t know how to employ any jargon, and while she is sort of sliding gradually into our group, there’s just no level to communicate on. There’s no easy plateau where we can talk without being earnest and blunt, or polite and pretending and faked.

I mean, isn’t politeness just a bit of theatre toward people that you’re neutral or even hostile to? With friends, you have a trust and an honesty, so politeness doesn’t come into play. It’s only politeness when it’s aimed toward strangers, and doesn’t that make politeness into a charade that’s basically both meaningless and calculating?

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