Thursday, December 8, 2011
Not everyone's a winner, baby
With the advent, in the late 1990s, of dross that began with Big Brother and culminated in I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, it appears that there is a new modus operandi for the youth of today - and it has nothing to do with aiming for an A+ in algebra.
In the 70s, one was happy with a gold star in the exercise book for exceptionally good work, and one also took it on the chin when one got nothing, realising that one had not truly excelled at anything in particular during the year. However, that was then, and this is now.
Having endured a veritable caboodle of School Presentation Days this week, two distinct and palpable themes began to emerge - one that had me back in 1997 dusting off my CD single of Wannabe by the Spice Girls, and the other cranking out Elton's Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. The songs, I think, speak volumes about the obsessions of their age. But I waver from my course.
The first of the Presentation Days was a delightful reflection on the rewards of Persistence and Confidence. The two-hour production went off without even the glimmer of a hitch. No duffed lines, no wardrobe malfunctions, no melt-downs. Rather impressive from a hundred or so 5-year-old girls, but somehow rather too precise for my liking. Hmmm...the apologue wasn't clear until I'd partaken of the next two events.
The second Presentation Day was the clincher in the quest to prove my allegorical theory. It too was a deliciously wholesome display, this time of little men fancied up and showing off their various talents. However in this one EVERY SINGLE BOY received a prize. The pointy heads in 2S must have been up all night thinking up some of these hum-dingers. "Best Friend in a Crisis", "Most Enthusiastic Trumpet Playing" - the list went on and on and was only marginally pipped by the hearty applause as each group was ushered off centre stage. The whole plot slightly alarmed me. The school had moved into 1990s mode, and I desperately wanted them to be playing a tune from 1975.
The third Presentation Day, however, restored my faith in human rationality. As I read the Order of Proceedings my heart sank when I saw the reams of awards to be trotted out. But then an unlikely arbiter of reason tottered up to the podium. The headmistress pulled from her bag an iPad, an iPhone and a dog-eared copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. She proceeded to tell her audience how the creators of these pieces of modern iconography had been failures, also-rans, school nobodies.
And later, as she read the names of those winners who pranced jauntily up onto the stage, every loser in the house felt just a little bit better about themselves.
I beg to differ with Hot Chocolate, who entreated us to believe that everyone's a winner, baby. Rather, I'm with old Leo Tolstoy who was far more pragmatic about things. "We lost because we told ourselves we lost."