I have an issue with authority. Not in the sense that I am some hardened criminal who regularly flouts the law; though, if I were, I would not mention that in such a public setting. No: when it comes to me, I have a simple dislike of being told what to do. Sometimes I still do that which I am told to do, but I do it under duress, like Orson Welles when narrating a pea commercial. I also curse the name of the person telling me to do and plot out how they can meet their grisly end. But only hypothetically, of course; though, if I were to change the mens to the actus, I would not mention that in such a public setting.
As such, I have devoted most of my life to doing quite literally anything else other than have a real job where I work under some man who refuses to admit that he is balding and combs his hair over in such a way that Bobby Charlton himself would tell him: ‘Rob, just shave it off, mate’. I went to university, thrice; I took every opportunity to have gap years and study abroad experiences and all the rest of it, extending those spells in university to its very limits. I ran off to Germany for a year to volunteer for an organisation about whom I knew I nothing and, now that I do know, wish to eradicate in some whistle-blowing scheme, owing, largely, to the incompetent authorities running the place. I was also on the verge of joining some mad-cap charity trek to walk across the Andes before I came to my senses and realised that I struggle to walk from one room to another in my house let alone a mountain range. And also because I had no desire to do the fund-raising bit before going.
But I have, of course, also failed in this endeavour to not work. On several occasions, in fact. I have, at one time or another, dipped my toe into the river of retail, the aquas of administration, the fjords of finance. I have also dallied in the mudflats of marketing but to say so would have broken the rule of three. The issue with this mindset is that it makes one rather short on cash—a problem that will solve itself indefinitely when people begin buying my book on Amazon.
This issue with authority rose from primary school, and begun shortly after moving from one school to another. At that former school, my last day had been at the end of term. I remember its name well; for it was the William Wordsworth Primary School. Going to school named after one of the worst poets to ever disgrace the English language is reason to enough to hate the authorities, but this had nothing to do with it. At that time I had not yet found myself subjected to the turgid diatribe that is Wordsworth’s legacy. As an aside, when I do get my riches, I am going to buy that school, or at least make a heavy investment in it. In return for that investment, I will demand one thing: the addition of ‘is terrible’ between Wordsworth and Primary. My overwhelming memory of my time at that school was the final day. We had to bring in a collection of foodstuffs, for a reason I know not. Perhaps it was for a harvest-themed festival or some food bank or, given how little teachers are paid, I was used as a pawn to pay for that week’s shopping. One of the items I bought in was a jar of bolognese sauce. When I put the jar on the table I hit the desk too hard. Glass hit the table. Glass hit the floor. Sauce hit the table. Sauce hit the floor. Sauce hit me. It was like a murder scene, as if the Dolmio Man had finally snapped after one too many slappings of his fingers by the Dolmio Wife. I also remember a girl named Clarissa, with whom I was infatuated because I liked the show of the same name. I was five or six at the time, tenuous links to sitcoms are all one needs to fall in love at that age.
Anyway, shortly after that, I begun life at a new school. I am told that the Sauce Incident had no bearing on this and that it was always the plan to move to a new town. I have my doubts. On the first day at this new school, named after one of the Saints—Matthew I think, one of the apostles, not Le Tissier—there was an assembly. Several hundred children sat tightly packed in a too warm auditorium barely listening to the short, bespectacled teacher recite some nonsense about something nobody cared about. One of the children, deciding to haze the new student, began kicking me in the back. Rather than turn around and give him a kicking back, I put up my hand and told the teacher that some guy behind me was kicking me in the back. Her response was to single me out, summon me to the front and make me stand at her side in full view of the rest of the school for the remainder of the assembly. It was in that moment, standing beside her, the punished party while the prick who was prodding me got to sit somewhat comfortably next to his friends that I realised life was unfair. The teacher’s berating of me after the assembly, accusing me of doing something to egg him on, proved that incompetents rise to the top and that anybody with Senior or Manager or who is in some role of authority over others deserves contempt. ‘Oh yes, Miss Thickwit, I asked the guy to kick me in the spine. I decided that the idea of becoming paralysed from the waist down was my idea of fun.’ It’s a lesson I have never forgotten. To further compound the learning experience, as punishment, I was made to join the school play in which I had to dress up as some form of elephant-bee hybrid and sing songs about the negative impact aerosols have on the O-zone layer. It’s for this reason I go to public places and spend my days spraying deodorant on the plants.
Some might read that moment and take my crusade to never take orders from anybody else to such an extreme that I will not bite my tongue for eight hours a day somewhat of an overreaction. I disagree. You are wrong and I am right. Besides, I am far too stubborn to set myself on a different path. I am content to live or die by my creed. And, anyway you look at it, that makes me better than you.