Oh No, He Isn’t

And relax…

For the first time since last Friday, I’m finally getting a chance to sit down and vegetate. Not that I want to do that, but its inevitable return is worth noting anyway.

As I said in my last post, I was going to be helping out at my local school with their pantomime production as their stage manager. I spent all day Saturday in rehearsals, Sunday was spent at football, Monday was rehearsals all day, so was Tuesday, with a performance on Tuesday night, and Wednesday was the final performance. 

At the end of it all, the verdict is that it went very well indeed. All the reviews I’ve heard have said that it was one of the best run plays the school has ever put on. That is a very high compliment, and I’m very satisfied to have played a part in it. 

And play a part I did. Stage management suited me down to the ground. I’ve been a stagehand before, but having the responsibility of controlling scenery, props and cues, as well as managing a small team of helpers, getting a chance to flex my organisational skills, was something I really enjoyed. There were errors, and there were accidents, but we worked around them extremely well, including fixing a falling backdrop in double quick time while the curtains were closed. Fortunately, it broke while the curtains were closed, and so the audience didn’t see it. They wouldn’t have suspected a thing.

And that’s the job of the stage crew. The better, more organised their performance, the less you realise their impact. It’s one of the ironies of doing a good job when you’re behind the scenes. You will always notice a bad job, scenery, props arriving late, lighting or sound cues missed… but when it’s all done slickly, you just sit back and enjoy the performance.

What it has done is improve my opinion of the next generation just a little. I used to be a lot more positive than I am now, but recent events (documented frequently on this journal) have undermined my confidence significantly as I’m really uncertain as to whether the next generation shares the values of everyone else as the Internet and free-market liberalisation transforms our way of life. But it was good to see first hand a lot of very bright, very talented kids, and some more middle-of-the-road ones too, working hard and enjoying themselves, giving something to the community. 

It was only a few days work, but I’m going to miss it. It was nice to have something to do, good to feel valued and comforting to feel part of something that gave a lot of people a lot of enjoyment. They even recognised my contribution at the end by calling me out especially, and I got a round of applause and bottle of wine. Oh well, at least I got something tangible out of it!

As usual it makes me think “well, why don’t I do that for a career?”. I have thought about it before. I wanted to go into media production of some kind when I was 16. In the end I turned my back on it, as it just didn’t feel like the right fit for me. In truth, I would probably enjoy any job that allowed me lots of organisational responsibility. It wouldn’t necessarily have to be working in media/theatre, but it seems the skillset profile matches me well. Worth reconsidering, perhaps.

But I do have an idea for something community theatre related that I would love to do if I had some money. One day, hopefully. 

And now, back to reality…

Clever Trevor No More

A long time ago back in school, I was a rather clever kid. In my primary school, there was absolutely no doubt about it – I was the most intelligent there. I got everything within seconds, and excelled in every subject, no matter what it was. I could apply my smarts to anything.

I moved on to secondary school – where the level was higher, and so was the competition. It took me a little while to adjust, but I soon got into my stride. However, I was no longer the best there. Now being one amongst 100, rather than one amongst 50, it was always likely there would be a challenge. And it came from all different angles. My enemies were from much wealthier families – which gave me a certain sense of “I may not beat them, but I’ve come a lot further than they have”. I was probably amongst the top 10 in terms of academic ability though. That showed when I came out with five A*’s and five A’s in my GCSEs.

I then moved on once more to a different school. Well, a college, to do my A-Levels. This time I was one amongst 1200, if not more. There was no way any more that I could make a fair comparison with my peers. I had a feeling I was pretty clever still, but it did seem to me that I was steadily being caught up. That those people who I’d left for dead in primary school were slowly coming back. I ended with three A’s. Still much better than most, but there were many other people who achieved the same (and even more today).

Hence to university – where, if statistics are to be believed – I achieved something that approximately 10% of other students did. But only just as I was on the edge of it. But to me, whilst I was there, I got the unmistakeable impression that of most of my peers, there was very little to choose between us. They were sharp and erudite too. Maybe I am just better at absorbing and retaining facts for later analysis? But essentially, we were all pretty damn good at that analysis.

The moral of this tale is fairly straightforward. It’s one that is not fully explored in society – though I was very pleased a few months ago when the C4 programme Child Genius looked like it was going to investigate it. Not that I’m trying to say I was a child prodigy, but I certainly was right up with the brightest of the bunch.

No – the purpose of this story (and what I expect Child Genius to eventually conclude) is to say that for most child prodigies, the promise of youth invariably ends in failure. Failure is relative, of course, because people set the bar extremely high. For some reason we expect our child prodigies to become consultant surgeons, research experts finding the cure for cancer, or, worse, the Prime Minister. But we should come to realise that there really are only an extremely small number of these people in the world. And there can ever only be one prime minister at a time! Leaving the rest of them to have a relative failure when they “only” become excellent administrators or creative designers/engineers, whatever.

This is sort of what I’m coming to terms with. What is success? What should I achieve? Where should I be relative to the extremely high expectations that have always been upon me? And if I don’t meet them, have I failed? In school and university, it was easy to measure success in terms of grades. In life, it is not that simple.

Unfortunately, there is a side of me that is saying maybe I am not succeeding. I haven’t exactly lost my intelligence… but what I have lost is the degree of advantage over others this used to give me, because everyone else has caught up – and also because there are many other ways to have a talent, not just through booksmarts. It’s my belief that childhood intelligence is mostly a product of earlier development, which one’s peers will catch up with eventually. And then those peers will probably end up with better “people skills” or something.

Then you really are up shit creek.

A Brief Perfect Moment

There are very few moments in life where I feel “everything is just perfect at the moment”.

Yesterday, however, contained one such time. But it does demonstrate just how easily pleased I am. And in any case, it lasted about 5 seconds… but you just know it when suddenly you get a feeling inside which just simply says “Life is good”.

I was sitting in the warm sunshine with my grandparents after I’d went out with them for the day. We were sitting on a field, a gentle breeze, and I was eating cheese, tomato and coleslaw sandwiches.

I felt I had to note this event. The food was good, the weather was nice, the location was perfect and it was just awesome to be spending some time with my grandparents. After all, none of us know the minute, and my poor grandad is slowly progressing into what is certainly a form of dementia. But at that moment, everything was perfect.

I spent the rest of the day with them exploring and just generally wandering around. I had gone with them to help them carry their stuff up to the static caravan they’re staying in at the moment – and as always they’d picked a nice day for it. I’m beginning to get a little worried that my life contains too many events revolving around caravans at the moment… how depressing.

That was good fun – but not that much else has happened in my life lately. But then again, it summer, and I do deserve a break. There’s not much else I can do right now except wait for the temporary job offers to roll
in. Well, offer. Hopefully I’ll have more on that next time.

There is something else I’m doing at the moment, which is being an exam invigilator in my local school. But that has turned out to be something of a waste of time, since they told me I would be in every day (no one else wants to do it) … except, now the exam time has come around, they don’t actually need the invigilators anyway.

So far I’ve done one two hour exam and I’m doing another one later. And I’m not likely to do any more.

Though Tuesday did give rise to a classic, when one 15-year-old kid pointed to a picture of a swede on the English language exam paper and asked me if it was a fruit or a vegetable.

Perhaps I only want to be a teacher because I want my sense of humour tickled…