Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Lifetime of Sulking

Yesterday I heard a short item on the radio. A listener complained that when she was a child she had, by chance, won both first prize and fourth prize in a raffle.

In a sweeping blow of injustice, she had been told that she couldn't keep both prizes and had been made to give one back: though not -as might have been expected - the fourth prize, but the first prize.

She said that she'd never entered any raffle, or lottery, or any such thing ever since.

"A lifetime of sulking," she commented.

I love that phrase! Sulking is not, in general, something to be admired, of course. When others sulk I find it deeply annoying.

But the slight edge of humour with which the story was told made it enjoyable for me: partly because I strongly identify with its teller.

I hate all injustices. The big ones make me furious. The smaller ones make me sulk.

Age ten, I failed miserably at some children's party game which involved advertising slogans from television. My parents didn't watch ITV and wouldn't let me watch it either, because they didn't believe in adverts. I'm still sulking.

Age eleven, I was told by one teacher to go and eat my packed lunch in the biology lab, and then thrown out furiously by another teacher. I'm still sulking.

Age twelve, I was in a class that balanced a bucket of water on the door so it fell on the teacher's head. I was at the other side of the classroom and knew nothing about it - I was probably absorbed in a book - but I still got put in detention. I'm still sulking.

However - - --

Age very nearly thirteen, I was - along with everyone else - given a day off school so we could watch the Investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales. Of course, my family didn't watch it but I did have a lovely day with no school or homework. The next day I was talking to my best friend all about it in assembly. I was told by a teacher to stop talking but we ignored him completely and carried on gossiping in loud voices all the way through the Headmistress's long and deeply dreary account of the Investiture.

We were summoned to the staffroom at break and given the cruel and unnatural punishment of having to stand outside the staffroom in silence till the bell went.

Am I still sulking about that one? No, of course not. I was in the wrong and knew it and didn't care: I was in my nearly-a-teenager Rebel Mode. It wasn't injustice: it was a fair cop, guv, and I got let off lightly. Whenever I think of it I feel a warm glow of something approaching pride.


Blogger Ailbhe said...

Oh my god that's so unfair!!!

10:58 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

I'm still sulking about the day I won the North Holderness schools sack race at the age of ten. I was yards ahead of the others. The idea was that watching judges - teachers from the different schools - would grab race winners, runners up and third place competitors, then lead them to the scorers' table. The old besuited guy who took the first placed child simply overlooked me as I protested loudly "But I won!". The other kids were bemused too but he wouldn't listen and I never did get my winner's medal. If I saw him now I would gladly head-butt him.

11:23 pm  
Anonymous Mike Deakin said...

I have a City & Guilds Level 3 NVQ in Sulking and Protracted Silences with merit for an extra module in "Looks that can kill!"

I'm now 42 and I'm sulking about that!

11:37 pm  
Anonymous Kate said...

At primary school I was the best speller and I wasn't allowed to enter spelling contests. It wouldn't have been fair to the others, you see. I never won a prize for anything else. If only I'd been the best sprinter or something...

It's OK to have a sulk or a moan occasionally - the people who get up my nose are the ones who turn it into an art form and sulk about everything, great and small, all the time. And those people think that life is manifestly unfair, all their problems are the fault of someone else, and they become malicious back stabbers to get "even".

Oops, I've just had a major sulk!

8:54 am  
Blogger WendyCarole said...

I sulked quite a bit as a child, My mum was the biggest sulker ever and when after a few days she was still in a sulk with us we could never remember why.

I always thought it was bit of a girl thing. But now find most of the big sulkers in school are boys!

11:33 am  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

I do not sulk. I have never sulked. And you can't make me say otherwise. Now I must go out into the garden and eat worms.

5:02 pm  
Anonymous Olli said...

So this is where I get the trait from!

It's the worst thing ever when you're a child brighter than the more moronic adults around you, but they won't listen because you're a child. I'm still in a massive bloody sulk about all those people, and remember all of the incidents with absolute clarity. When I had a teacher in Year Four who repeated that bollocks about the red rose being the Lancastrians and the white rose being the Yorkists, when in fact the symbols were completely fabricated years later and, I think, they actually used a boar and a dragon respectively (or something) I explained to her politely that she was wrong and she laughed at me in front of the class for ages, because "everyone knows" about the roses.

Stupid bitch. I hope someone set her on fire in the intervening years...

5:09 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I thought I'd left this incident far behind but now realise it was lurking in my physche for 45 years... the day Judith R got to show her maths exam paper to the head teacher in front of the whole school because she got 69/70:
'Isn't Judith clever, children...' remarked the HT.
'But I got 70/70.' I shouted in my head.
I can remember it like it was yesterday, now you've jogged my memory. Dangerous places, blogs.

5:49 pm  

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