Which Peer Group Do I Belong To Now?

By James, our supply teacher from London

I left you last week somewhat perilously positioned on the edge of a suggestion that during the weekend just passed I may find love. Well, you can drag yourselves back from that particular precipice as I most certainly did not find love. I did though find ridiculously heavy rain, social awkwardness and the most offensive cab driver in the world, but more on him later. As planned, some of the staff met up in Hammersmith on Saturday evening to celebrate one of our members turning thirty. Although the inclement weather had clearly affected the turnout, there were still enough in attendance to ensure I wasn’t bored. It was nice, if a little odd initially, to see these people in a different context, all glammed up, drinking, letting their guard down. I did wonder a few times what the kids at school would make of Ms Bower dry humping a pole, wine glass in one hand, random man in the other. But who I really want to talk about is that group from the staff who had evidently never been anywhere like this before. They were clearly there out of obligation rather than any sense of belonging to the scene. And by scene I mean just being in a trendy bar of any description. They looked like the proverbial fish out of water and provided me with great entertainment.

You know the types I mean, those men who’ve been married for ages, who even before they were married never ventured far beyond the local. Any time they did it was only when trying to impress their ladies with the promise of an adventurous spirit they never really had. A spirit that once they were married was soon discarded, reverting once more to the local. They’d all made the effort to dress smart, they were off into London after all, but the outcome was that they all rather looked the same, distinctly uncomfortable in their man-shirts, in the midst of all the regular ‘trendies’. Of course being the social animal that I am, I felt sorry for them and took it upon myself to stick with these social pariahs and act as their protective shield against the alien and hostile world of Hammersmith. The highlight was observing their collective alarm at the man in the toilets who insisted on watching them whilst they relieved themselves and then proceeded to offer them a choice of aftershave, and they had to pay for the experience. This was a concept not readily understood or accepted. Seeking safety in numbers thereafter, they grouped together the entire time, and then left en masse when the issue of last train could be seen on the distant horizon………at about 9pm!

But then a strange thing happened. I started to feel uncomfortable. Exploring this unusual turn of events I wondered was it because now that the ‘old man’ group had departed I was left with the younger twenty something year-olds and I was worried that I had taken on the mantle of not belonging.

Ouch, taking it even further, maybe I actually belong more with the group I’ve just been mocking. I don’t think I need to dwell on this……… ……back to that offensive cab driver.

I eventually overcame any feelings of insecurity and braved it out, somewhat unwisely, until after the last tube had departed. This resulted in me having to take my chances with the local sharks, sorry, taxi drivers. The torrential rain meant I was happy to jump in the back of practically any vehicle moving in the general direction of North London. The driver of the one I did jump into took one look at me and decided he would waste no time in sharing his views on politics, race and in particular bloody foreigners. Rather than suck it up I opted for principle and demanded he stop at once and let me out. He did. And I got wetter than I ever imagined possible. That wet where jumping in the deep end would have been a blessed improvement. I also had no clue as to where I was. Looking at a street name I at least could establish the general postcode area I was lost in and figured I had about a 45 minute walk to my flat. Not so bad, so I walked. And walked. Took about two hours but at least I didn’t get any more soaked!

Turning the key in my front door a short time before 4am I had this overwhelming sense that I really should find me a nice lady and family and a local and a group of friends who, when out on that rare occasion, may stand around looking aghast at their surroundings but make it home nice and warm and early and who all enjoy their Sundays.