On Monday you expressed the opinion that, by being such a beastly swot, I was missing out on my childhood. With this in mind I have set myself the following tasks.
1) Climb a tree
2) Kick a football
3) Catch sundry insects, fish and other wildlife and put them in jam jars
4) Shave a cat
5) Fall off a bicycle and graze my knee
6) Put a live frog down my sister's neck
7) Pick a scab
8) Read a comic
9) Play a game on a device suitable only for making phone calls
10) Be of great interest to a Catholic priest
These are, I believe, the Ten Pillars of Childhood. When I have completed the above tasks I shall consider my childhood to have been accomplished.
Dear Sporran Minor,
How dare you use my nickname to my face? I mean, your letter was in my face even if you weren't. A man’s sinus problems are his own affair.
I have loathed and despised you, as is a teacher’s right, ever since your first day at this school. I believe you to be nothing less than a scientist, a person with no comprehension that the older a thing is, the more important it becomes. As long as it isn’t a dinosaur, of course, which is just science in disguise. Latin is superior to French; classical civilisations were more civilised than mere historical ones, which in turn were more civilised than Australia; yesterday’s potatoes were more nourishing than today’s. Without the lessons of history, how would we know the futility of sacrificing people to the wrong gods, or taking elephants across the Alps, or burning cakes? We might lose all our savings investing in Superstitions R Us, Alpine Elephant Transport and The Smokier Cake Company. I am still furious about that.
Your being shortlisted for the Man Booker seems to have gone to your head. Let me bring you down to earth. Your English GCSE is fast approaching and without it you will find it impossible to obtain an indoor job with clean toilets and a good pension scheme. Employers are not interested in men or bookers; they want to see good, solid exam grades. Think about that when you’re writing you next poetry collection for Faber & Faber, and bear in mind that repeated names show a lack of imagination. Consider writing for Marks & Spencer instead. Even better, just hand in your homework. It is very important to your English development to know how to write a letter of complaint to eBay about the socks you purchased that turned out to have holes in and cannot be given to your uncle for Christmas. I am still furious about that.
Have your childhood if you must, but don’t think for a moment I won’t find something else to taunt you about.
Head of Classics and PE
Thank you for your concern about my career prospects. On the strength of my recent paper about the effects of pecuniary accumulation on the bells of Shoreditch, I have been offered the Quaint British Customs chair at Brown University. I have asked them to confirm that it is indeed an indoor job but have not yet inquired about the cleanliness of their toilets or the adequacy of their pension scheme. Should I turn them down and hold out for a job in a shop?
My childhood is progressing well. I am assured by my peers that all a boy needs for eternal happiness is a girlfriend and a motorbike. The motorbike will have to wait until I am old enough to drive. For the girlfriend, have you a daughter you could donate to a good cause?
P.S. The dog ate my homework. If I’ve used that excuse before, it was my aunt.
Dear Sporran Minor,
If you have so much as a wet dream about Emily I will have you flogged with nettles and stung by scorpions. I don’t want her disappearing for months, then coming home clutching a baby she says she won at the fair. A goldfish you can flush down the toilet but a baby clogs up the drains and stinks to high heaven. Its discharges and effluent clog up the drains I mean, not the baby itself. I am still furious about that.
As for your job offer, Brown University sounds like an Internet scam to me. I assure you it isn’t a real one. Who would name a university after a colour so ugly that God left it out of the rainbow? Only a couple of spotty Nigerian Internet fraudsters, that’s who. What shall we name our university? Let’s call it Yam University. No, Mud. Or Fish. What about Tree? I know – Brown! Before you know it they’ll be asking you to send them all your pocket money to buy a crate so they can smuggle out a professor with a fortune in fake degrees, which they’ll offer to share with you. Then, after you’ve sent them thousands of pounds, you’ll hear no more about it. I am still furious about that.
I don’t care if a dog did eat your aunt, it’s homework or detention. Always bear in mind that you are still of torturable age.
Head of etc.
I have put my childhood aside for the time being and begun a new novel. It is the story of Spike Malone, who becomes immensely wealthy from his tortured upbringing and troubled family life. During his lifetime his wife works hard to preserve his reputation for being a scumbag and womaniser, but when Spike dies and she discovers that he has left all his money to Jeremy Kyle she at last speaks out. We learn of the touring binges that kept him away from home for months at a time. We hear of the times he would lock himself away, claiming that he was working, and refuse to assault his wife, take a mistress, get drunk or alienate the kids. We learn to our horror that he was, in private, a famous and universally loved comedian and that his spectacular home life was just a sham.
Now I must post this on ABC before I forget it.