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School Prison

Updated: Aug 6, 2023

I always assumed every school had a prison where they locked up the naughty children. The fuck else do you do with them? Apparently it was just ours. A year of being an uninhibited bellend to my teachers was enough to send me down (no trial). All sentences were indefinite but there was a parole hearing at the end of each term. Here is how I spent my days during the first couple of months of my educational incarceration: Mum drops me off a symbolic hour before the innocents' but 15 minutes behind the other guiltys' - I am late. School prison starts 75 minutes before the rest of school to avoid any cross-contamination. I'm not even allowed to use the main school gates, I make my way through the rear car park to a purpose built facility tucked away behind the main building. There is a security fence surrounding the building twice as high as the one separating the school from the neighbouring estate. A member of staff is waiting by the gate smoking a dart so she can let me in through the coded gate. I say nothing about her cigarette, she don't waste her breath informing me that I'm late.

School prison had two classrooms, age or academic ability played no part in separating the students . There was a room where you were allowed to talk and a room where you weren't. The non-talking room wasn't a punishment, it was for students on the edge of implosion or maybe revising for an exam. This meant there was only one class for ages 11-16. Although out of the twelve students, six were from my 'year 8' as we were a special batch. School prison was called 'Millstream'. I guess because we had all been pulled out of mainstream education and incarcerated. Millstream inmates or 'pupils' had zero contact with the rest of the school. We had no PE or music - none of that fun bullshit. Although if nobody threw any chairs we were allowed an art lesson from a frightened looking art teacher once a week. I'm not sure what we needed a real art teacher for when the same member of staff, who was absolutely not a teacher, took every other subject. I think the real reward was not having to look at our jailer's face for an hour. Our work was never graded except occasionally by each other. I never once got an A but did receive the occasional 'dikhead' or 'nob jockey'. The only plus was lunchtime. We ate 15 minutes before the rest of the school so the pizza hadn't grown that skin from the heat lamp yet. After 15 we got back to it as all inmates were released at 1:15 on the condition that we didn't go anywhere near the school when the others finished.

We were an assortment of oddballs, all uniquely mental. If it were today we might have all been diagnosed with ADHD but this was in the good old days when that term was used simply to describe the kid who'd bring a knife into school. We were desk neighbours. There were kids in my class everyone else thought had been expelled. The first day of term was like a plot twist from Big Brother "I didn't really leave! They were just hiding me". We were the students the other teachers had given up on and with good reason. There was specific emphasis on showing up on time and not calling your teacher a bitch. Although, strangely, other swearing was permitted. I've always lacked any perception of what people think of me but looking around at the class of degenerates I knew I was in trouble as I realised I was not out of place. My anxiety about not fitting in had morphed into genuine concern that I did. After all, I did lock a class in the IT room and bin the keys. I started the fire extinguisher wars. Crushed parma violets in the back of maths, chop em into rails and sniffed them. The meanest thing was that I repeatedly called our maths teacher John until his spirit broke. Once we avenged our dodgeball tournament loss to a neighbouring Catholic school by leading a rebellion (we chased their whole team across the field with hockey sticks). Our school was banned from competitive sports for two years. Most of this took place after my successful reformation of character.

After failing my first parole hearing for punctual lateness I decided it was time to take some responsibility with my life. So I told my mum that school started 30 minutes earlier than it really did and I was released after my 2nd term (a 'two stretch'). I knew that rumours circulating Millstream had worsened when I got out as more than one kid asked to see my ankle tag. "My dog chewed it off" I'd tell them. The mainstream teachers referred to us as cheerios as so few of us made it back into their classrooms, much to their delight. But as an adult I wonder if the irony ever struck them, that we were doing porridge for children.

Not long after my early release for good behaviour our school formed a student council. It was made clear that this was not to be a popularity vote, we needed students who would 'action change' and represent all students in school decisions. It was my first exposure to the incompetence of western politics as I was voted in. There was a weird secrecy surrounding the student council. We were called upon sporadically, it was more of a dictatorship than a democracy as the members never changed. Once every few months over the next four years the assistant to the head would pop her head into our classroom and say "Jake is required for the student council". The look on the face of my teacher was always priceless. It even happened once mid-bollocking. My teacher was so dumbfounded that I made it all the way out of the classroom before they composed their gawp.

About a year in we were tasked with interviewing six candidates for the head teacher position. Each candidate had two interviews, one with the board of directors and another with the student council. All of them made the same joke, that they were more nervous for the student interview. I felt like none of them had the appropriate background to lead a school built on a notorious council estate. I made this point clear to one candidate in particular. Not the best of starts with the woman who became our new head. She asked for my name during the interview and I knew I was fucked.

Our new head teacher had an Ofsted driven vision for our school. Which the board lapped up but us students knew better. A school built on a council estate will invariably have its challenges. Our school traditionally accepted students from the estate regardless of their grades, which would negatively affect the schools Ofsted rating. The way our school dealt with this was by having designated classes for students with learning difficulties like dyslexia. My brother told mum that the special class he was in 'Slipstream' was for pupils only half naughty and the fact they all had learning difficulties was purely a coincidence. This created a bit of a 'chicken vs the egg' scenario where he'd argue "How come we're ALL naughty then? What's the difference" And I would answer "A security fence and silent reading". Our bickering had all the implications of two lobsters arguing whose bath water is hotter as our new head axed the Millstream and Slipstream programs as soon as she started. Giving students one last chance to buck up their ideas (or whatever bullshit cliché she used to mask her real intentions). If the students with learning difficulties or behavioural problems got expelled then the schools GPA would go up and receive greater funding. Ofsted is evil and fiscally rewards schools for their grades. This negatively incentivises schools to support those who need help the most. If that policy sounds familiar, remember that Ofsted was brought in by John Major - leader of the conservative party.

Slipstream students didn't study foreign language. My mum wasn't even aware my brother had started French, such was his passionate disinterest in the subject. My mum was called into school one day as he was spectacularly failing French. I'm not sure what they expected from this interaction but safe to say it did not go as planned. "Your son's grades in French are not good enough, we need you to offer him some additional support at home". I hadn't seen mum react this angrily since my brother and I threw all our neighbour's clothes off their washing line and in the mud, then danced all over it, making era appropriate woowoo noises (in our defence we were playing an innocent game of 'Voodoo Rain Dance'). "French? He's fucking failing English and you pulled me in here because he's failing French!" Several solid minutes of comprehensive abuse later and it was agreed my brother take remedial English instead of French lessons. My brother overjoyed at the return of the half-naughty class.

Like all reformed prisoners I like to read books beyond my means. So I thought that I would finally submit my book report, 16 years late. Untethered from the shackles of the national curriculum I was free to review any book I wanted.

An incomprehensive review of the number one international bestseller: The Psychology of Stupidity by Jean-Francois Marmion.

It was a sad day when I discovered this book. To realise that I was, in fact, not the eminent expert on idiocy was a real pisser. Sure, Marmion is a world-renowned psychologist with a plethora of academic peers at his disposal but where I got him beat is lived experience - first hand stupidity. He has patently never resigned from his local supermarket in crayon then continued to work there for 6 months. Or agreed to backpack around South East Asia with his mum. The author takes great care in his writing to avoid the book becoming a dossier of haughty-taughtivness but naturally with such a condescending title he falls short in places, even after allowing lenient consideration for his unfortunate manner perversity of being French.

In Marmion's defence, it is explained that The Psychology of Stupidity is not about how & why people are stupid but how & why we all act it. Like when people check the time - immediately forget and need to check again. A section I read repeatedly. Which thanks to confirmation bias fits in nicely with my recent ADHD diagnosis. A few of us did lines of Ritalin at Songkran festival in Thailand. It made everybody super up except for me. According to my academic peers this definitely means I have ADHD. Naturally, I paid no attention to this. Until I showed my blog to a backpacking bud and she gave the best review I've had to date "It's great but has anyone said you might have ADHD?" "No!" I thought offended, yet oddly allured at the prospect of blaming my failings on a neurodevelopmental disorder. "People usually assume I'm autistic". Personally I always attributed my attention deficit to an ignorance surplus but perhaps the book quotes it best "less a deficiency of intelligence than an abdication of it".

There is a reason that I've never been diagnosed with anything trending higher than asthma and it isn't my perfect mental health. Use of words like ADHD or Autism are a luxury often not afforded to the working class. Working single parents like to prioritise perennially impending alternative words such as rent or council tax. Just look at this classic joke from Frankie Boyle "Scotland has the best mental health in Europe but that's only because you really have to go the extra mile to be considered mental in Scotland." But he's fucking spot on. You wouldn't diagnose a refugee with depression, his happiness is in direct proportion to his shit life. And when I was admitted to the hospital as a child because of my difficulty breathing the doctor never once questioned why I wasn't listening.

Sorry I was talking about some book but became cognitively misdirected..

What I'm failing to explain is that I lack the skill-set and interest or ambition and time or resources and aptitude or bother required to deep dive an entire psychology book. So I'll tackle one chapter: The Language of Stupidity. This chapter focuses on an anecdote: a militant vegan's online comment calling a butcher a murderer. The author compares the language used by social justice warriors to that of Newspeak in Orwell's 1984. And talks in a literal sense as to why a butcher is not a murderer to highlight the fact that these people will say anything to get a reaction. And I thought maybe there was a braver example he could have used for 'moral grandstanding'.

Did you know that in order to show their support for the trans community the sport of Quidditch has changed its name to Quadball? They no longer want to be associated with JK Rowling. Which might be fair enough if the cunts weren't still running around with broomsticks between their legs. Here's a quote from an article in The Cut which attacks Rowling "Scientists and doctors agree that sex assignment and gender are not the same thing." No shit warlock. This type of lazy & unresearched platitude is bereft of all meaning except for falsely implying that Rowling has said something to the contrary. I met JK Rowling in a Wetherspoons once, she said "What do you call a non-binary witch or wizard? Not real!"

Alright, alright, only joking. She has never said anything like that. Although as a survivor of dark forces she might have implied that she thinks it's important witches and wizards keep hold of their birthright to use whatever terminology to describe oneself, just like those who transitioned into magic later in life have chosen theirs. What a mudclart. Ironically Rowling has been denied this right herself, including her right to identify as an egalitarian. The moral of Potter is probably that you can't fight evil with evil but social justice warriors do fight their cause with post-truth. A term coined to capture Trump's disregard for facts in favour of evocative or emotive speech. Something he used to continually attack the trans community.

In total there are 28 contributors to The Psychology of Stupidity. I think if I asked 28 of my Guinness peers to contribute to a blog post with the same title I would get 28 imaginative and different ways warning me not to be a pompous dikhead or a conceited nob jockey. Page 223 is the first time a contributor takes the piss out themselves. I did learn a new definition of stupid from this book: somebody who struggles through their attention atrophy so he brag to his friends he has read a book he didn't understand.

F Must try harder!


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