Thursday, March 4, 2010

reasons to be cheerful

i went to a 'celebration brunch' today.
it was for adult learners who have come back to school to upgrade their literacy and basic skills.
that would be my students.
and it was for the instructors.
that would be me.
after the intros were done by the MC and the guest speaker (who i will tell you about next time) had finished her inspiring talk, the mike was passed around the room to each table so that participants could say what their past struggles were and how being back in school was going to, or had, changed their lives.
i had taken 4 students with me.
carefully selected for their ability to dress and behave in a manner that is considered publicly acceptable.
believe me it was not an easy choice:
not everyone among my students would be able to adhere to this criteria.
i might explain that on top of being challenged academically, most of my students have intellectual disabilities.
we are not part of the mainstream.
one of them, BJ, i have mentioned before.
he's a complete ham.
he's a total anglophile.
speaks with a great southern english accent,
tho' he was born and raised in canada, albeit the child of english parents.
he has a thing about me because i have an accent.

he knows i am from newcastle and he, as do many misguided people for reasons known only to themselves, supports man utd. soccer team.
let's just glance over that then.

he loves to rib me about newcastle united.
he's really got it into his head that it bothers me.
and i let him think that it does.

back to the mike.
here it comes and i could feel BJ's anticipation as it worked its way around the room.
at the other tables the participants are telling their stories of triumph over disaster.
there's tales of abuse, tales of addictions, tales of woe.
tales about being a parent and not being able to read to one's children.
there's a feeling of hope in the air as they describe their new lease on life, a new purpose.
they all commend their teachers: if it wasn't for them, etc etc.
there was hardly a dry eye in the house.

the mike arrives at our table and the other 3 students pretend they don't see it.
but never mind, BJ has and he's on his feet in an instant as he grabs it greedily from the MC.
i should say, he's dressed impeccably, sort of like a middle aged british civil servant circa 1950.
and, i might mention,
he's 21.
i believe he was reared on a diet of benny hill, mr bean and keeping up appearances.
he can recite episodes of brit-coms chapter and verse;
impersonate british characters from old movies and sounds a bit like the fella from pathe news when he's in full rant.

he begins.
in his well rounded BBC english.
a plum in his gob, as me mother would say.
for some reason he likes to illustrate his points by saying 'bloody this and bloody that' as often as he can fit it in.
he thinks it's 'proper english.'
"good evening ladies and gentlemen (no matter that it's actually 11.30 in the morning)
"i want to tell you a little bit about myself."
and he does.
for about 2 minutes.
he mentions his struggles with some learning difficulties at school and how they had affected his ability to get a job.
it was quite interesting and i could see people were intrigued with this 'english fella'.

he was off.

"my teacher, he began, and heads turned expectantly my way, as others waited to hear just what kind of instrumental change MY lessons had been in BJ's life.
... is a bloody Newcastle United supporter."
oh sh*t. 
you could have heard the proverbial pin.
mainly because the room was full of people who neither knew nor cared who or what newcastle united was.  
"...and as we ALL bloody well know," he ranted like some old drunk down the pub,  "N.U.F.C. is the worst CRAP team in the whole of the bloody UK! and MY team manchester united is the best."

oh God, somebody take the mike off him.

i looked around and smiled feebly.
he was on a roll and i could see that he felt he was doing a stand up routine worthy of any comedian.
he paced around the table as he spoke, one hand in his pocket the other handling the mike like a speaker to the manner born.

"i hate Math (which he pronounced maath) he announced "and SHE bloody well makes me learn it. it's a bloody waste of time actually.
i tried to laugh.
"and now",  he carried on regardless, "i shall leave you with a joke."
whereupon he proceeded to tell everyone about his (last?) visit to buckingham palace (naturally he's obsessed with royalty and thinks that being english means you are only one step away from being royal) and how he went to pet the queen's corgi but when he bent down he realized it was actually camilla.
somebody at the next table laughed loudly.
i have a feeling it wasn't at the joke tho'.

when the MC took the micropohone from him he sat back down looking very content and most pleased with himself.
''i can't wait to get back to class and tell everyone how well i did.'  he said smugly.
"i can't wait to get back to class either."  i replied.

"you know what, pat?" he said,
"no, what?"
"i think i went over very well. when's the next celebration? i think they might want me back."

i love this kid.


The Incredible Woody said...

They bloody well should want him back;)

Steve said...

A career (or a car crash) as an after dinner speaker surely beckons.

C said...

man, united is diane's team, too! hahahaha

he sounds like quite the young man and i LOL when i read the camilla joke,,, i got it! woof! lmao

you make such a difference in poeple's lives, pat, thank god for people like you who care enough to do so.
bless his little british accented heart...


French Fancy said...

That really made me chuckle aloud - you might want to let BJ use the word 'chuckle' - I think it's terribly English daaaarling.

How odd - (well it was all odd really) to begin with a 'good evening'. Did he finish with a final hello?

Clippy Mat said...

woody: true bloody true. ;-)

steve: he needs no encouragement.

C: I will forgive Diane because unlike some she is most likely too polite to be rude about MY team.

FF: chuckle. I'll throw that one about, it's sure to catch on. :-)

Busy Bee Suz said...

Oh my gosh...he is a hoot!!!!
Send him to England..he can perform FOR the Queen Mum!!

Busy Bee Suz said...

I think you are so awesome for helping people the way you do. make a difference in their lives, which in turn, helps out society all the way around.


Clippy Mat said...

Suz: I have some bad news for you. You'd better sit down. The Queen Mum is dead! sorry to be the one to break it to you. She was like a hundred and eighty or something. However, good news, the Queen lives, she's not even a hundred yet. Oh you Americans, you just don't know your royals!
but we love you anyway.

the fly in the web said...

Sounds as though the BBC could employ him.....

Clippy Mat said...

fly: only if they don't mind him saying 'here's the bloody news.' or making bad jokes about Camilla.

karen gerstenberger said...

That is worthy of making into an episode on a BBC comedy show, don't you think? And you told it SO WELL!

Perhaps the unspoken compliment to you was that your teaching has given him new confidence in himself. I'll bet that's what he was really saying.

I love all of the BBC comedies that I can find. We are total nerds that way, in this household. In fact, our kids had seen so much BBC TV (since I think U.S. TV shows are mostly rotten) that when Katie had a medical caregiver who she didn't especially like, she asked me privately, "Is THE QUACK still here?" I kid you not. We still laugh about that.

Clippy Mat said...

One thing that stopped me from feeling homesick for many years was that I could always find some Brit TV show or other to watch. It's nice to know that I shared that with Katie. :-))

Ladybird World Mother said...

!!! OMG. That boy can speak. Get him over here and he can talk at the next dull course I go on... he'd go down a treat! Loved this. Bloody loved it, as BJ might say! xx

Clippy Mat said...

Ldybird: I could be his agent and handle his speaking engagements couldn't I? maybe we could book him for the next 'night' down at your village hall?

J. Hi said...

I don't know why but I picture him as Dick Van Dyke in 'Mary Poppins.' lol

TechnoBabe said...

Great job. Most of us would not be able to hold the microphone and walk at the same time, and he could do that and talk too! Claps and hoorahs.

Anonymous said...

lol thats great, love how he points out how crap nufc are to a room of canadians. glad you could take it with a pinch of salt

love you


Clippy Mat said...

actually I can see where you would make that comparison. bad English accents and all that. He is as charming as D.V.D. tho' to be sure.

TBabe: he has the delivery of a talk show host, just needs to work on his 'content' a bit. :-)

Jenn: It was a good laugh anyway. He's a great kid. You would love him. :-)

Gill - That British Woman said...

I have tears rolling down my face Pat.....oh to be a fly on the wall....oh and he is so right about Newcastle United........but less said about them the better...right ;0) (as she wipes the tears from her face)

Glad I popped by this morning,


donn w2Nz said...

It's true sometimes you need an outside-insider to make you realize all the good stuff...unless you are American, French or German...or Italian..or most other nationalities.
Geeze, now that I think of it, are Canadians and Brits the only disciples of self deprecation?

Clippy Mat said...

I'm glad you popped by this morning too.
I think self-deprecation is self-preservation where we Brits/Canadians are concerned.

the fly in the web said...

Award for you over at mine.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Loved the blog, loved the man! He sounds perfectly ok to me!

Kee said...


Expat mum said...

Bless. Thank god he's unaware of how he comes across really. I think you should teach him Geordie for a laff.

donn w2Nz said...

So, where are you..oot & aboot on some other form of social media?
Notice I did not say the "F" word...Facebook :)

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Award for you over at mine!