Friday, November 04, 2005

The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club

M.Ringwald: Not in this story at all

There comes a time, at secondary school, where a young man should choose which subjects he is to study if he is to make something of himself in the world at large.

In the humanities, I chose Geography and 20th Century History, and they have served me well. In Art and Design, I chose metalwork, and it was fucking awful.

Hating every minute of it, I made an ashtray that was liable to melt at even the slightest application of heat, and a screwdriver which would perfectly drive any screw, as long as it had a head the shape of the leaning tower of Pisa. In other words, I hated metalwork, and metalwork hated me.

In fact, I had huge issues with Mr Callaghan, who had a false foot, and was hence nicknamed “The Penguin”. And these issues were simple: He was an utter bastard and a twunt to boot.

Then, one Tuesday morning came the blessed, blessed news: hardly anyone had chosen Home Economics. Not even girls. Would anyone from the other classes like to swap? I flung the blowtorch to the floor and volunteered immediately; as did Tim, leaving something terrible still spinning on the lathe, and we both legged it, whooping across the playground towards the kitchens and the butch, open arms of Miss Orton.

Miss Orton. She was a lesbian, proud, and only told us this at least three times a lesson. Not one of those lipstick lesbians all over our television screens these days. She was a rather unattractive short-arse reminiscent of an ugly Margaret Thatcher after an argument with the back end of a bus. An ugly Margaret Thatcher that did other women. And she taught us Sapphic Home Economics.

On my first lesson, I made a rather fancy cake, which hardly poisoned anyone at all (a further cake-making session which totally failed to poison our headmaster is told elsewhere on these pages), and a loaf of bread was used as a shot putt on the way home.

It being proper Home Economics, and not just cooking, we had to go into the minutiae of the whole kitchen business. This meant long, long lessons on nutrition and the proper choice of cake icing for a Bar Mitzvah. Then, we'd be sent off with this new knowledge and cook something.

This led relentlessly to the glorious day, where we were told to get into pairs, and plan a meal for the following Tuesday morning’s lesson. We were to devise, purchase the ingredients, prepare and then eat a breakfast. It would, Tim and I decided, be a right royal stuffing.

We sat down and planned the world’s largest breakfast.

Porridge. Bacon, eggs (fried, boiled, poached and scrambled), beans, sausages (normal AND herby), black pudding, mushrooms, hash browns, fried bread, toast, tea, coffee, orange juice, grapefruit juice, jam, marmalade, marmite, and for some reason, nutella*.

On the morning of the Great Feast, just to be on the safe side and knowing full well that breakfast was on the other side of the Reverend Rating’s school assembly sermon on gluttony, I made sure I had good breakfast before I left the house. Nothing huge, just the usual Weetabix and half a packet of sugar. Followed by a bacon buttie. And a packet of crisps and a Marathon bar from the garage on the way to school. A boy could starve if he wasn’t careful.

At half past nine we set about our task. Tim and I cooked. Tim and I ate. We cooked and ate. Morning break came and we were still cooking and eating. And as the bell went for the next lesson, we were still forcing down the last of the feast and simultaneously washing up and tidying away utensils. Girls, more fool them, had, in the main, prepared something light and continental involving freshly-brewed coffee and croissants. I’d dare say there was something worryingly Sapphic about that kind of thing, hence our manly over-reaction with the biggest hunk o’ breakfast in the history of the planet, ever. Continental breakfasts are just the first stop on the road to unshaved armpits and the East German shot-putt team.

As the bell went, Tim threw the last of the frying pans into a cupboard, and in four words summed up our exact feelings for the morning’s work:

“Fuck it, I’m stuffed.”

And stuffed we were. We could hardly bend over to pick up our bags, and we waddled out of the kitchens, across a now deserted playground to our next lesson.


Or, to be more specific, an hour and a quarter of Rugby.

God, I tried my hardest, but ten minutes in, I received the ball, darted up the wing, went down under a tackle and well… passed the ball forward.


Mr Prince, somewhat taken aback by the fact that vomiting on the field of play wasn’t actually covered by the rules, awarded a scrum-down.

To this day, I still feel sorry for the other lads as they bound on, with my mate Tim right at the back as Number Eight.

“Lads”, he announced as the ball bounced around their feet, “I don’t feel too good…”

Rugby was cancelled that day.

* At least, I assumed it was nutella

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