Tuesday 22 May 2012
No really, we don't. Or at least, we're not supposed to. Every year we are told that "we leave well" and that "we don't do muck up days over here. They may do them at the girls' school and do them well, but not here". It is certainly the case that Habs Girls do muck-up days and, it seems, get it right in terms of tone. Anyway, Habs Boys don't. Instead we have last days filled with assemblies, breakfast and form time. Well, of course, that is the idea. It usually doesn't pan out exactly as the staff, or some members of staff, would like because plans get made; intentions discussed and ideas put into practice.
Now, being somewhat committed to the idea of avoiding any potential trouble I didn't partake in either of our grand schemes for plotting the downfall of Habs as a school and starting the revolution but, naturally, many did. The great minds from Habs thought deep into the night of how to cause the most havoc and establish an event that would go down in history as something that shook the world and came up with, wait for it...
...No really, wait for it...
...Wearing school uniform on the Monday and shorts on the Tuesday (with final day being the Wednesday). It was with a mix of worrying about quite how much damage to the school's reputation this would cause and also just knowing that it would all end badly that I decided not to do either. We'll ignore the fact that I wouldn't fit into my school uniform from two years ago now, anyway. The school uniform, as far as I could tell was largely not noticed or ignored or taken in good spirits as well it should have been. However, it was the shorts that was made our muck-up day cross the line from Anarchist to Revolutionary and to the detriment of society as a whole. Just how many people suffered trauma from seeing generic brown person's hairy legs we will never quite know.
Picture the scene. A slightly gloomy Elstree. The sky cloudy and grey and daylight descends over Habs. School is starting. Birds singing. The sound of Ben Peacock on duty echoing into the distance. And out of nowhere, thugs in shorts suddenly start raping and pillaging. Reports of trees on fire, bombs being set off and landscape beginning to look somewhat like an Iraqi Market emerge. Journalists and world leaders are alerted to..Oh wait, sorry that didn't happen. U6 students were arriving in school alongside everyone else in shorts to get ready for a final day of lessons. But the reaction it got, you'd have thought someone had murdered a coach driver and suffocated a small child. On a serious note, I didn't wear shorts because I knew that a reaction would occur, however right or wrong any reaction, I think most people acknowledged that but took the risk anyway, with their defence being "it is perfectly harmless". And I think most people would accept that wearing shorts is, indeed, as harmless as things can get for a muck-up day considering some schools, with very decent reputations, end up with cows on their front steps; emergency services being called or something else actually relatively serious like that.
I expected, at most, a chuckle and a "No, really, put some trousers on." Maybe a small comment on why breaking the school dress code is not allowed on any day, last day or first day and perhaps, even, (maybe to a prefect who committed the offence) something about younger boys looking up to us. Not, of course, that I envisage a sharp increase in Yr7 boys turning up to school in blazer, shirt, tie and swimming trunks in the coming days. What I got was, arguably, the largest overreaction to a single event you could imagine. Yeah we, or some of us, broke the school dress-code and yes "rules are rules" on all days of the school year, but in the grand scheme of things and out of all the options to "f*ck shit up" that we could have taken, other than perhaps wearing white socks for the day, this was the most harmless.
Instead of what would have been the reasonable thing to do (either let it go or quietly tell us to change), we faced members of staff who seemed to be personally offended by our decision to wear shorts; being sent to the most senior of staff; being sent home to change; students being called disgraceful and generally the reaction one would expect if we had brought large amounts of illegal substances onto the campus. It was almost as if certain members of staff had a terrible experience with shorts when they were younger, perhaps getting caught on a the zip or being forced to wear pink hot pants by their parents. Of course I made the point that we should have expected this sort of reaction - being reasonable is a quality that is lacked in so many people not just members of the teaching staff. That, of course, doesn't justify the reaction.
Apart from anything else, it is incredibly stupid to react so OTT to something so harmless. Because, of course, we understand that we can't just burn down buildings or start torching trees for muck-up day and that our school careers are not over. Consider the decision to not wear suits on Monday and Tuesday so that we would be in suits for a school leaver photos. Not a decision taken by those with a desire to overthrow the senior management and bring the school into disrepute. What started as a simple "let's wear shorts, it'll be hilarious" was turned into "HOW DARE THEY WEAR SHORTS AND POTENTIALLY CAUSE MASS UPHEAVAL IN THE SCHOOL" by a huge overreaction. No matter how infantile wearing shorts was, no matter how against the rules it is, it did not warrant the reaction it got.
No, instead, the reaction only serves to fuel the fire. I wouldn't describe the Habs Boys U6th as a potent revolting force but when any teenager is faced with what he perceives to be an injustice, it can only result in the desire to up the anti so to speak. All it has and will do, is encourage further worse behaviour which, clearly, was not the aim of any punishment but was such an obvious result you wonder how those entrusted to educate supposedly some of the brightest minds in the country, could not see that. Now, instead of attempting to have a little bit of fun in what is, let's face it, our last couple of days at a school which has been so great for so many of us, many people will have a desire to go further than wear shorts and actually cause some form of damage.
Maybe we should have realised that in a school where going home at 3.00 instead of 3.20 is forbidden, that wearing shorts wouldn't have gone down too well. Of course, I don't think we were unreasonable to assume that the worse that would happen was that we would be told to change and, in fact, I don't think many assumed they would get away with wearing shorts all day. What we got was a reaction blown out of all proportions with names taken and very angry members of staff for, let's face it, wearing shorts. Ludicrous.
*Disclaimer: For legal purposes the entirety of this blog post is, of course, fictional and not in any way linked to Habs Boys, Girls or any affiliates. The author does not condone, agree with or support any muck-up day activity at any school. If you have been affected by any of the content in this post, especially if you suffer from a short-wearing-related illness please contact your local GP*