First week back and we're testing the tots. I must sort out the clever clogs. I must identify the gifted and talented. In my day they were called the wets and weeds. I was one. Or both. We were incarcerated in the express class for the too clever by half. We whizzed through the curriculum. We zoomed through quadratics, pluperfects, spondees, dactyls, enzymes, atoms, existential doubt and causes of all known wars. We squeaked with erudition and looked like twerps.
We were easily identified - pale, skulking and four-eyed - and were regularly set upon by the not transparently talented or bashed up by teddy boys behind the bike sheds. We didn't dare "come out". "Hello - I'm gifted and talented!"
Head down the toilet.
It's safer now. But much tougher for the teacher to weed out the blighters.
It's a murky area. I'm tempted to choose the merely quiescent. The swotting drones. The polite and smiling. The unarmed and unplugged. Anyone called Cordelia or Emily or Josh. The Department for Education and Skills'
criteria have a medieval complexity - it's angels dancing on a pin stuff.
The gifted at Bash Street might be dunces at St Custards. It's beyond me.
So I just seek pure genius. But all my favourite geniuses went bonkers and or bunked. Buster Keaton never did school. Peter Cook was given to "somnolent lapses" and WC Fields lasted four hours. As for Mozart...
"Amadeus - put that girl down. Come out from the piano. Just grow up!
He charges round on all fours.
"And what's that doodling?"
"A symphony innit. Fuck off!"
I tear it up.
Exit little Wolfgang to inclusion unit. I would have put him in a correctional facility. "How come I'm not gifted and talented ?" muses Dave Mania zonked again on the finest Jamaican. " You've got the wrong gifts!"
But he's a whizz in his own world. A killer MC.
"I got talents" "They're the wrong talents."
He is dead clever. Cleverer at beating the system than Cordelia is at joining it. He's seen us all off. Me, Miss Limpet, Ritalin, the national curriculum - and the dogs. His time may well come ...
Tonight Alan Yentob interviews Dave "Dread H" Mania - street prophet and bard of Shepherds Bush.
'"Mr Dread - do you owe your school anything?"
"No way man. That Whitwham - he just kept dissin' me?" So I put him in. I put them all in. Cordelia Swansong to Dave Mania. Gifted and talented.
I don't know who isn't.