As I watched several thousand pounds of explosives artfully released into the November sky, to the soundtrack of classical music, oohs, ahhs and dad jokes from the audience, I had some interesting thoughts. I was standing in a muddy field with Mr A, a few hundred revellers, a can of Fosters and a tray of chips. Very glamorous. It could almost have been our festival going days. Maybe that’s what prompted my strange trail of thoughts. Guy Fawkes. This man who wanted to blow up parliament. And it got me thinking about the times in my life when I have put a rocket up the backside of an establishment. Topically, given this week’s student protests, it all started when I was a student.
When I was in sixth form I had my nose pierced. Eventually after a few months of arguing with my head of year about it, I swore at her. I was suspended. It all got a bit mixed up in school gossip, in the student’s minds I was suspended because of the nose ring. There was huge unrest. Before I knew it, my fellow sixth formers had staged a sit in. Occupations are a long established tradition in the student movement that should be defended. My fellow students then called the local paper. I made the front page. Star pupil gets suspended. The Manchester Evening News even came to interview me. Not much changed, except a new rule was added to the school’s list – ‘no nose piercings’. But I had stood up to authority. It was a rite of passage.
At uni I posed a brief challenge to the theatrical establishment with a seriously strange and up its own backside piece of postmodern drama that revolved around filming the audience and representing them as a piece of art. It sounds indulgent now, but it gave me a passion for the arts. And when you go on to teach, and you take that passion into the classroom and fire up young minds with the arts, now that’s exciting. As a teacher I battled to give my students fantastic opportunities and get them results.
But erm, since then I think I have been severely lacking in the sending rockets up the backsides of establishments department. My battles of late have been horribly domesticated, like the four month struggle to convince Miele electricals that a fridge packing up after less than three years just isn’t acceptable. (A free replacement fridge freezer arrived yesterday – Miele you are wonderful). Urgh, how did life get so safe?
So I send a symbolic rocket up the government on the 24th Nov , as part of the planned national scale student protests, for the right to an affordable university education (lit with due care for the health and safety of others, aka a peaceful protest). I never paid off my debt from training to teach, even after seven years, mainly because I lived in London and teachers don’t earn that much. I will one day. It will eat into the pension I will be trying to catch up on paying into, after my time out of ‘work’ as a mum. My debt is manageable, but the proposed cuts aren’t. I don’t think university can be free, but it should be accessible to all.
I’m a bit fed up too, about the complaints about tax payers paying for ‘mickey mouse’ subjects in universities, yes we need scientists and doctors, but we also need artists, filmmakers, web designers, tv producers, writers, poets, actors and playwrights. So a huge rocket in support of the arts, because a little investment gives great returns and we should never forget that.
Rant over. Where would you send your rocket? Amazon perhaps? (Don’t get me started!)