Saturday, April 17, 2010

Yearbook Page!

I was a wee baby when they first threw me in here. From my very first year, in 12eme, they took me on a classe verte. Why they thought taking 4 year-olds on a classe verte was a good idea is beyond me. From then on, I knew I would be in a for a ride. This wasn’t just any school. They did things differently here. And so the years went on, and I gradually became acquainted with all of you, blessing your lives in some way or other. There are a few things that I know will remain floating around in the genius that is my mind, for a very long time. I would like to thank my homies for making these years the best so far (that’s not saying much seeing as I’m only 18, but whatever, it’s been good). We’ve often complained about this place. But I know that, not a single one of you liars would have swapped it for the world. This is where the party was at. Where else would we have met and fallen in love with Mr Simon? Enjoyed the top nosh at the cantine? Had a strike day in the teachers’ garden? Lived through a bloody school bomb threat? Yeah, that’s what I thought, you badmans. You’re all just pretending. On that note, I would like you all to pause and think back on the things that have made these years immense. I believe there are some things that deserve their own page-space. These past few years have seen the birth of Human Deal or No Deal. They saw Remi flipping some burgers, Hickey dealing fish behind a counter, and Camilla selling some shit for a kitchen. And, obviously, there was a hell of a lot of babysitting. There were blogs, and even an attempted novel. There was Isabelle’s beautiful drumming sound, and of course there were Mitch’s brill cups of tea. There was bird flu, and then came the swine. There was a fruitshop boy, a costa girl, and there might even have been a few teachers in there as well. There was one fateful fight with my Mary about a little island called Japan, and then there was Miley’s tank top. Elly screamed across the art room floor for some paint or other shit on a daily basis, and there was Goodman’s confusion as to WTF Was Going On Here. There were drums, there were ukuleles and there were guitars; the stench of failure soon followed. There was Scott on Friendorama and then there was the return of Clemmie 2. My French/American gangster drug dealer soon started providing the goods from German Switzerland. There was Momo’s arrival into the BS (Better Section). There was a Snow Patrol concert that blessed me with a conversation. And then came the noise of dubstep. There was and still is an entry pass application that hasn’t been sent off. (I didn’t get a chance to see what Fatima bloody did next. Damn you Remus.) There were Diams’ stupid confessions, and Yelle’s porno request. There was a lion, a dragon and an Easter egg hunt. We dressed up as bacteria for a bio presentation, for God’s sake! There were mistakes made, and lessons learned. (Rarely in a classroom, though). There were some inspirational teachers (woah, there, let’s not get ahead of ourselves – there were only one or two of those). There were wailing tears. There were hysterical laughs. There were hopes. There were fears. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love you all, kids.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Lara, I Love You

I woke up at 6 oclock in the morning, and I could remember my dream perfectly. It was more of a nightmare, actually. And truth be told, as childish as it may sound, it was the most traumatic thing i've ever "lived" through. As dreams go, it doesn't stick to reality, and jumps from scene to scene, not making much sense along the way.

I step onto a huge coach, except it's not a normal coach. It's about 3 times as wide, and full of students. I manage to find myself a seat next to a girl called Lauren.

We get up to go to the bathroom. We walk to the back of the bus, and end up on a street, even though we're still technically on the bus. This is the first of two images that I remember very clearly. Almost too clearly. Lara, a very dear friend, is standing there, in the middle of a dark street, looking as pale as a sheet, and as weak as physically possible before death. Blood is running down both her legs, but there's no wound. She's dying. She struggles to get one foot ahead of the other to take a step forward. It still seems so real. Lauren runs to get some help. I carry Lara in my arms and walk to the front of the bus. For some reason, my cousin Aly is the driver, and I tell him to go get his car, we need to get her to the hospital. He takes a look at Lara and rushes off the coach to get his parked car. I follow, still carrying my dying friend.

I spend the entire dream trying to find my cousin Aly, while Lara dies in my arms. As the dream develops, the journey becomes more and more difficult. i suddenly find myself having to cross a stone bridge, over dangerous water. There are waves crashing onto the bridge, while I attempt to get across. I'm scared. We're going to get washed away off the bridge. I hold Lara even tighter, and eventually, we make it over to the other side.

I'm suddenly sitting in the backseat of a car, but it's not Aly's, and we're not going to the hospital. Instead, I forget that Lara is dying in my lap, and get caught up in some kind of mindless conversation with someone sitting next to me.

I look down, and realise Lara is dead. That split-second moment of realisation is the second moment from the dream that I remember all too clearly. It's as if a big black heavy weight has come to rest in the pit of my stomach. I've never experienced anything like it. It's like a mixture of complete desperation, shock, regret and realisation all at once. And then the crying begins. It's uncontrollable and never-ending.

I wake up.

I spoke to Lara and Aly immediately after waking up. Simply re-telling this nightmare had me in floods of tears.

Lara, I'm so sorry I couldn't save you. I love you.

Monday, April 05, 2010


I once spent a week doing my dream job.

It all began this past summer. I wanted to go into journalism, and I needed work experience. I emailed each and every single newspaper, magazine, tabloid and broadsheet I could think of, and surely enough, the Financial Times were the only ones to bother with an answer: no. They only took people with actual degrees. I huffed and puffed, and begged and promised enough for them to reconsider and finally say yes. I still, to this day, do not understand how I managed to change their minds.

Flash forward 2 months, and there I was, strutting my way across Southwark Bridge, with an air of self-importance, on my way to the big shiny FT building. Donning that day's unread issue of the FT in one hand and the most expensive-looking handbag I owned in the other, I made my way into the massive building. I thought I'd stumbled onto the set of The Devil Wears Prada. There were people buzzing around everywhere, marching along as if on a mission to save the world. Take-away coffee cups, photocopies and past issues of the salmon-coloured newspaper were all over the place. I never wanted to leave: it was exactly what I had hoped it would be, and so much more.

On my first day, I was allowed to sit in on the editorial meeting. All the chief editors for all the different departments and the editor of the entire newspaper were there. The Bigshot Editor of the whole thing used this time to quietly and calmly pull out the big guns to either rip people to pieces for their shit work or praise them for their genius. I sat in the corner, giggling away on the inside, as they all sat there, waiting for their turn. It felt a bit like judgement day!

I spent the rest of the day going on a tour of the various identical-looking floors, visiting all the different departments. I was given a 2-hour IT training session which taught me about the production line of an article. Let me tell you this, it's not easy. From putting in bloody hyperlinks for the website edition of an article, to making sure you keep in line with the word-limit, it was a trek and a half.

I spent that afternoon shadowing the editor of one of the departments. Now, this bit here was the most interesting of all. Although I didn't have any tasks to undertake, I was still given a desk right by the editor, with my two personal computers to go with it. Because, you know, it would be ridiculous to have one computer only... The editor was quite a character, maybe even my favourite... She was a fidgety woman, constantly chewing on a new piece of gum, and always smiling. She sat, comfortable in her swivel chair, with her five empty cups of tea. That day though, she and her right-hand man were in a bit of a pickle: they were short of stories to write about. She explained to me that the day usually started off slowly, and gradually the pace sped up, as time neared to the printing hour. She apologised profusely for my having to be there at "such a quiet time"; they usually had more stories than they could manage. I was just happy to be there, watching them struggle to get their reporters to find something of greater substance to write about. When I left the office that day, she gave me a photocopy of what the issue would look like once it was finished. It still had some major blanks in it, but I pretty much got a preview of the next day's paper. Key word there: pre. I was that important.

In the days that followed, I sat in on the recording and editing of the newspaper's weekly podcast. The man who showed me the ropes was called Rob and he was lovely. We had some good banter about the journalism industry, Rupert Murdoch, my A-Levels, his daughters, and how great the FT really was. Turns out, the FT is the greatest newspaper in the world. Its standards are virtually incomparable to any other newspaper around. Reporters get a massive bollocking if they can't back up what they write with at least 3 reliable sources. Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is a newspaper I hope to one day work for.

On my last day, I was finally allowed to write. I was quite surprised that they had bestowed upon me such responsibility. Obviously, they would edit and probably completely change whatever I came up with, to adjust to FT standards, but I mean still: writing for the FT while on my week-long work experience?! That's got to get me some brownie points! They provided me with the material I had to write about and the number for a man I needed to contact to get a quote I could use. So I sat at my desk, furiously writing away about new banking regulations, almost believing I actually knew all about it.

The biggest achievement of my life so far ensued: I opened up the FT the next day, and there, on page 3, was my tiny little article (having survived a few tweaks), with my name printed in block letters at the bottom.

I left the FT sad it was over, but over the moon that it had even happened.

Thank you Financial Times, I hope to be able to do it again some time.