Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Brief Briefcase Brief

At a recent family gathering, my father presented me with a briefcase full of documents from my childhood and adolescence that he (understandably) no longer wanted to be storing. Most of it was pretty tedious: long-forgotten pieces of half-completed 'homework'.

Homework gave me anxiety when I was too young to know what anxiety was. I would start worrying from the moment it was set. I would put off doing it until the last possible minute and spend the time I could have spent doing it, worrying that I wouldn't have enough time to do it. I would get it done, but often hurriedly and scrappily at breaktime or worse, on the schoolbus. I was far too much of a coward to turn up to a lesson wondering whether I could get an extension or whether the teacher might forget to ask for it in. If most people's experiences of homework were like mine - the only thing it improved was our ability to do shoddy work at the last minute in unusual circumstances.  

Most of the briefcase's contents went straight in the recycling. I did find this early poem, though. Judging by the handwriting, I wrote it when I was about nine and it is the earliest extant example of a poem in my 'lists of things that don't quite rhyme' style: (more modern examples of which can be found herehere and here)

Oily puddle poem

Red is a sparkling red wine
Orange is a sunset scene
Blue is a bright sapphire
Green is a cox's apple
Violet is a purple flower
Yellow is the brilliant sun

I am quite pleased that my nine-year-old self refused to countenance the ridiculous 'indigo' invention (included by mystically inclined Isaac Newton because he liked the number seven!)
See! Six! I told you!

There are six colours in a rainbow. I know this because I have counted them. You can count them for yourself in this photograph I have taken of a rainbow I created using only sunlight and Charlie's prismatic bottle of DKNY perfume.


I have a couple of problems with the imagery in the poem though - 'sparkling RED wine'? That's quite a niche taste. And 'violet is a purple flower' reads like a placeholder - a line a writer includes intending to replace it with something better later but never does. (Douglas Adams pointed out that the greatest placeholder to have entered the musical canon is Rodgers and Hammerstein's line "Lah - a note to follow Soh" in the Doh - a deer song from The Sound of Music.) 

Other items of mild interest I found in the briefcase included a sheet of Badges from Soviet-era Russia, a complete setlist from the imaginary Britpop band The Choral Variation that my friends and I invented (and whose story can be found here) and an SFW photograph of me having a wee whilst wearing a dress at a festival, the provenance of which is a mystery. I invite any readers who might remember to tell me when and where it was taken.






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