Sunday, 22 February 2009

More Things Which Live Under My Bed

This may just be of interest to me, but hey, it's my blog!

Last night we watched Phina's epic performance as Elphaba in her Wizard Of Oz/Wicked mash up. It featured, in the finest English theatrical tradition, a man in drag playing Dorothy, a real dog playing Toto, the Wizard being dragged from behind a screen to reveal he was wearing stockings and suspenders before breaking into 'The Timewarp' and some very thinly veiled dick jokes. There were many children in attendance. Seriously. Pull on my donger, indeed.

And I have just eaten a very nice Moroccan Squash Tagine thing. 3 of my 5-a-day in one hit, so I am in a good mood. And I am now more determined than ever to actually buy a tagine. I digress.

The other day I also found a whole selection of my old school reports - let's see if my genius was recognised at an early age ...

The first report I have (CBM has others - she is very sentimental and has kept pretty much everything I have ever touched) is from the 1991-92 school year and was written by Mrs S:

"Jessica is an excellent reader. Her well written stories reflect her love of reading. She has used punctuation consistently and accurately. Her handwriting is developing and she has become much neater.
She has shown great enthusiasm for history and geography related work and produced extra written pieces at home.
Her artwork has been very pleasing, enhancing the classroom displays.
Jessica has made good progress in all subjects and has shown a particular knowledge of science"

For one, what the HELL was I doing extra work at home for?! I don't remember doing anything like that! What a nerd. For two, my artwork was shambolic. For three, I found all my old stories and am seriously considering typing some up as they are so funny it is almost criminal. And d, knowledge of science is what you get as the child of a biology teacher.

The next report is from the 1992-93 school year and was written by Mr P. I was 10 years old and my reading age was 15 years and my spelling age was the very specific 13 years and 4 months:

"Jessica writes very good stories which are interesting and entertaining to read. Her handwriting can be untidy at times.
Jessica is very good at mental arithmetic.
She also enjoys working on the computer.
Jessica enjoys PE and games and takes an active part in class lessons.
Jessica has listened to a variety of classical music throughout the year and scored 100% on her religious education test."


My handwriting had gone into decline - clearly I was not that bothered with trying to really 'kick' my 'kicking k's'. I am not good at all at maths now and need a calculator to add up. How ironic is the PE statement? I hate exercise in all its bastard forms. 100% in RE when raised in an entirely atheist household. Can you say black sheep?

My last Bruche report is the 1993-94 school year and was written by Miss B:

"Jessica has actively and confidently participated in class discussions, making valuable oral contributions, but she needs to develop a more cursive handwriting style.
Jessica has a sound knowledge of the four rules of number. She can interpret simple formulae and has recognised the inverse nature of division and multiplication.
Jessica has an enquiring mind.
In technology she has made some interesting design suggestions, but has often tended to lose enthusiasm before producing the finished product.
Jessica has played some games enthusiastically.
She has a good sense of rhythm and is becoming a discriminating listener.
Jessica has not particularly enjoyed religious stories."


Oral contributions. Snigger. I don't even know what the 'four rules of number' are. I presume the first rule is that you don't talk about the other rules. As to the inverse nature, what a sentence. I have no idea what it means. Miss B had the most RIDICULOUSLY neat handwriting so I am not surprised she thought mine was rubbish. I am no longer a discriminating listener as I will listen to any old gubbins. And my budding cynicism was already coming through at the age of ten with my dismissal of religious stories. How much can change in one year - from 100% to not particularly enjoying.

This report also had a feedback form attached to it which I had filled in thusly in my 10 year old wisdom:

"I enjoyed the trip to Quarry Bank Mill especially the Apprentice House and the gift shop. I like watching videos on history. I find it interesting. I am a non-artist, I only like some artwork and I only enjoy art if it is easy. I enjoyed making board games based on Ancient Greek legends.
I hate maths. I feel my handwriting could be improved and I hate Sports Day"


God, I was funny as a child. The gift shop? Classic. I probably added to my collection of neon erasers, rulers and pencils. And my handwriting on the paper was barely legible.

Then I went to the Big School and encountered some of the worst teaching in the known universe and some horrific teacher based anecdotes ("and the baby had a hare lip and a cleft palate") but also 2 or 3 teachers who had a big impact on me and who were actually good at their jobs.

In my time in 7H1, my form tutor described me as "a very self assured young lady, mostly very pleasant but can be the master of the 'cutting comment'", so essentially I was gobby and sarcastic when I was 11. And he was fat and slightly inappropriate.

Mr T thought my English work was "consistently accurate and showing flair and imagination", unlike his many accents which were anything but consistent or accurate. In German, I had the less than glowing "Jessica needs to improve her attitude in class". In my defence, the teacher (Mr Tenerife) had no control over the class so of course I was going to play up!

In physical education the only thing they could bring themself to say of me was that my "kit record has been good". I always had my red PE knickers handy! The frankly inbred music department praised my saxophone abilities, "Jessica handles and blows the instrument confidently". How can he have written that with a straight face?

By 1996, my 8H1 form tutor seems to be contradicting his earlier comments: "Jessica's appearance, as always, is impeccable, and she is as quiet and polite as ever". Hang on. I thought I was self assured and 'cutting'? Make your mind up! The appearance comment makes me think that I did not get caught up in the Great Skirt Length Crackdown or the Innapropriate Tie Length Pogrom of '96. He continues, "she is one of the more pleasant members of the form and always seems cheerful and bubbling with energy". Energetic? Me? Hmm.

In English, my "recent poetry compositions were especially impressive" and my exam result was 82% "top of the class". That poetry may be some of the worst poetry ever written - I am 99% sure that one of the poems was actually a series of Des'ree lyrics which I strung together for my own amusement and to see if the teacher would pick up on it. He didn't.

In music, "Jessica tried hard with the trumpet to overcome a problem of producing a good sound". Possibly the funniest sentence in any of my school reports yet.

By the time I was 14, my "attendance could be better". However, I was "able to play the keyboard quite well, but numerous distractions hampered her progress" - like the fact that the teacher was never in the room. Or the fact that I was probably working towards Grade 5 piano at this point, so was not exactly challenged by playing 'California Dreamin' on a knackered Casio. I also did not "contribute a great many ideas" to the group composition project. C-. Ouch.

In English, however, I was the bee's knees. The teacher even saying: "I will miss her dry, dark sense of humour". In geography my USA project showed "a flair for deeper self-study", or as I prefer to call it, copying wholesale from books. I was also "developing an awareness of the fundamental questions of life raised by human experience" according to my RE teacher. Her class seemed to mainly consist of us watching 'Jesus Christ Superstar' or 'Escape From Sobibor' repeatedly.

By the time I was in Year 10, I had clearly worked through my attendance issues (4 absences all year) and was apparently "a lively and popular member of the form". I don't remember being either. I am also by this point "a very talented linguist". Yeah, right. In IT, with a teacher who referred to herself as Lisa B, I "can be chatty at times". I was probably chatting to the teacher about her upcoming wedding which she felt the need to update us about every 3 seconds. I may not be completely innocent though, as in geography the teacher "feels that Jessica chats too much in lessons, preventing her from completing her work" - I would have been chatting to Chan and telling her the answers.

In my final year of legally obliged school, I got a detention for being late. Rebel. But I still somehow produced another year of "solid endeavour". Simpovsky in history said my command of facts was "superlative" and my analysis was "faultless". I don't know what 'superlative' means, but I know that he was my favourite teacher ever.

My Viewpoint report (pointless moral and health education garbage) was most interesting as my Year 11 report was IDENTICAL to my Year 10 report. Hmm. Apart from the addendum that "Jessica is studying a module on suffering". How jolly.

My adventures at WHS continued until I was 18, through my own choice. Hoist by my own petard. Cue gratuitous 'Hamlet' reference as the memories come flooding back.

Snoop Bob writes that I am "always involved in social events. Jessica has become a seasoned traveller both in the UK and abroad". He probably saw me drunk at some point. He then had to write a little piece about us all when we left and for me he said: 'Known as a 'brain', mature, sensible and all things to all people - well, not quite.'


The book also has anagrams of all our names in it and I am 'A beck cruel mess, I jolly'. If anyone (who doesn't already know it) can guess my last name from that then they are probably a genius - my surname occurs in the UK in one in a million people. Literally.

My joint first favourite teacher ever Miss M really inflates my ego (like that needed doing): "Jess has commitment, enthusiasm and talent. She is a delight and really the model student!" I think she must have offered K - who was actually the best at English - her first born child! "I am aware that some of the exam texts have not been to her personal tastes, hence there can be an overt sense of criticism" CoughThomasHardyTheReturnOfTheNativeCough. "In many ways she reminds me of myself, questioning what is 'good' or 'enjoyable' literature." Not anything written by Blake Morrison.

Innuendo-tastic German report: "She lacks confidence in her oral work, though she certainly has the ability". An appropriately filthy note to end on.

As a reward for reading all this rubbish, let's listen to the wonky faced avocado farmer Jason M-R-A-Zee and wish we were anywhere but here.

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