Wednesday 7 October 2009

Guilty as charged

The boy and I are a pair of criminals; we've taken to walking around in stripy shirts carrying swag bags.

After my stopping in the bus lane incident, I've now been caught driving through a red traffic light. No excuse, I was lost in Chelmsford...trying to find a game of rugby...and after missing a good chunk of it was not concentrating as much as I should have been. When I rang the police to check on the photo evidence, I had to end the conversation with 'Fair cop'. He nearly laughed.

The boy has also had to face the consequences of the ruckus on the rugby field. A disciplinary committee was convened in line with RFU rules. And the result is....
....a three week ban. "It's the rules" he says. Stiff upper lip, gritted teeth whilst churning internally (I suspect). He's man enough to take his punishment, understands why and will have learnt from it. He'll get over it and then onwards and upwards to bigger and better things.

Monday 5 October 2009

Fight Club (2)

The boy is a mild-mannered lad. Always has been. He gets by with easy-going charm, and a smile that makes the opposite sex swoon. Instead of competitive, he has a steely determination to succeed on his own terms. He's happy to see and help others succeed, confident that he will too. I've always thought that his lack of competitiveness was down to spending his first few years at a primary school in Finsbury Park where the word 'competitive' had been deleted from the dictionary; for Islington Council, it always seemed that taking part was good enough, and then only if you really, truly wanted to. And winning was shameful unless you were disadvantaged in some way.

Rugby has become one of the boy's great loves, and he has worked damned hard to get into the first team and stay there. Over the last four years he has focused on improving his skills, and this year he has been rewarded by a permanent place in the U15 squad. Second Row. And in return, I have been going to watch not just the home games, but the away ones as well. Although sometimes not knowing that the away game was being played on fields away from the school has made actually seeing the game a tad tricky.

What I have noticed, has been a revolution in the boy's performance. And more importantly a noticeable change in approach and attitude. In going for the ball, tackling and driving forwards, he has a look of absolute determination. Adrenalin has been pumping and you know he wants to WIN. It is a look to be admired and respected.

Saturday's game followed on from a hard fought and close win the week before, and a thumping victory (61-0 with the match abandoned twenty minutes early to save the other team's blushes) on Thursday. So their tales were up.

Within a couple of minutes of the start, I mentioned to a fellow parent that the game seemed different, and I even suggested that it would end in a bundle. My view appeared to be shared by everyone around. Including the medic. Which is strange because the opposition claim a distinguished alumni of 20 canonised saints and 133 martyrs. I'm sure they feel that God is on their side.

Fred's team played well, and took a good lead into the second half, complaining over the break about the cheating and provocation from the other team. And as the final whistle got closer, so did the tension rise. It finally erupted and much to my surprise, it was my boy that landed the first visible punch. His reasoning that he was having his eyes gouged and hair pulled may, or may not, seem reason enough. In the mayhem, fists flew, teachers got stuck in to pull youths apart, and floor (by tackling) the ones that were going to add to the chaos. It was a scene and a half. The receiver of the punch was carted off to A&E (martyr 134?).

The boy was distraught and contrite at being sent off, and I hope I rallied round well enough for him. He knows when he's in the wrong and is admirable at accepting fault.

It helped that with one man down, they held onto their victory.

Afterwards it transpired there has been a long history of over-competitiveness.

Amongst his peers, he currently has no equal. It was a good punch, well-landed with good reason. Amongst the teachers? Well it would be unfair to say. Of course he was given a dressing down. But I don't expect there to be any lasting damage to his career prospects. In fact the unusual show of aggression is to be admired amongst the rugby-playing fraternity. But do it out of sight.

So perhaps this is the day my boy grew up in a less than saintly way. But please. NO MORE FIGHTING.

Sunday 4 October 2009

Fight club (1)

This week has been House Play competition week. And for the first time the boy had landed a plum part. He's enjoyed dramatics throughout his school life, but this was a real opportunity to shine. His House is unlike the others in that they have a tradition of writing their own play. Quite an achievement in itself. And this year they were competing against Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead, Arsenic and Old Lace and an episode of Black Adder. The play was called The Script, and involved a clever conceit about a school where life was ruled by a Script, which accidently falls into the hands of the pupils, who then start altering it to suit themselves. It was, like all the plays, vetted by the head of drama who saw it twice before the performance. At the end of the play, the judges were due to give their verdict, and indeed they did. The play was disqualified for being too many close resemblences to school masters and the head of drama was piqued. The decision has caused uproar...and not just amongst the pupils. You should see the Facebook's blue. Staff walked out of the judging, and the general view is that the decision was unreasonable. I bet the staff room was a fun place to be the day after. I got my chance to see a 'modified' (censored) version on Friday. It was fall off your seat funny...and everyone gave a performance they should be proud of. But there's a lasting sense of injustice....although I suspect this particular play will be talked about long after the winning performance of Arsenic is long forgotten. And as a final note, it would have been better if the external judge hadn't talked about Rosencrantz and Guildenstein.