• Alan Dale

Primary Schadenfreude Revival’s Greatest Hits - A little socioeconomic history saga - Part 2

You might assume that vignettes such as my experience in Part 1 would have faded rapidly into oblivion, amid the onslaught of adolescence. This ritual, however, was only to undergo a slight, if perhaps, inevitable modification, before reappearing like some ghastly leitmotif.

Colour coding – of course! No, not by insidious application to the pupils, simply via the issuing, each week, of different coloured rectangles of some 1960s bus ticket-like material. How could one have failed to predict such a logical development, at the Grammar School? Blue for the blessedly normal and unworried was complemented by a grubby shade of orange for those of more straightened circumstances.

Several years later, in a lunch queue, a thuggish peer enquired of me, knowing the reason perfectly well and surrounded by leering supporters, “why do you have red luncheon vouchers?”

“Because I don’t have the blue ones,” I replied.

Silence descended, nay, plummeted, landing tangible, resentful and leaden. This was the scowling, hangdog quiet, be it noted, of the aggrieved and denied. The subject was changed. I had refused to fulfil my role as a legitimate source of amusement, additionally failing, as a secondary offence, to look appropriately mortified.

I have rarely felt so empowered.

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