Superficialities run deep

25th November 2011 at 00:00

You know who I don't trust? Lovely people. The sort of people who carry bath bombs from Lush and wear patterned Oasis dresses that look like caravan curtains.

Everything about lovely people makes me uneasy. Their cars smell of air freshener and screen wash and they have a crocheted tissue box on the back shelf where the empty crisp packets should be.

They spend their weekends doing lovely things like baking cupcakes, reading The Lovely Bones or going to Prague on mini-breaks, while the rest of us have to hoover up the dog hair, clean the slime out of the toothbrush mug and check our tyre pressures because our husbands can't be arsed to get up off the sofa.

Lovely people are easy to identify. Because plastic carrier bags bring them out in an ethical rash, they carry their possessions in an assortment of ribbon-handled gift bags. Lovely people tend to congregate at baby showers, gallery openings and any outdoor event that requires a tartan rug. They are meticulously well turned out and should they accidentally snag a nail, they'd sacrifice a kidney for 60 seconds with an emery board.

Occasionally, lovely people decide to become teachers. They prefer primary schools because there are greater opportunities for doing nice things such as making shoebox nativity scenes, or knitting a new baby Jesus, and less chance of being told to "Go fuck yourself" by a Year 10 kid called Lee.

The more robust make it through to secondary teaching, but they end up having to compensate for the Hobbesian nature of the job by being excessively nice in the evenings, often staying up way past their bedtimes to make tray bakes for their departmental chums.

I'm wary of such loveliness: it's like a shiny red apple that looks firm and juicy on the supermarket shelf but when you bite into it is brown and mushy. Lovely teachers are particularly obsessed with social media, and "teachers who tweet" has taken over from "ladies who lunch" as the modus operandi of philanthropic educational socialites.

On the face of it, punching out 140 character-building characters to motivate others would seem a noble pastime. However, I can't help harbouring the suspicion that while @ilovemyclassroom is tirelessly tweeting about the joys of education, her un-walked dog is sleeping in a pool of piss and her hubby has opted for an early night and another lonely wank.

It's not that I've got anything against loveliness per se, but I suspect it only runs skin deep. Take that epitome of liquid loveliness, the Innocent smoothie. Grab a carton and read the side panel entitled "Getting in touch with us".

If their cosy invitation to "just pop round to Fruit Towers" or ring their "banana phone" doesn't make you want to pack an Uzi and head for their London address, you're not right in the head. Despite the global meltdown, the Eurozone crisis and the news that Wagnerian operas are on the rise in Berlin, Innocent still holds on to its faux-naif marketing position, even suggesting customers contact them via "smoke signals", "semaphore" or "tin cans" rather than the more practical tack of emailing their majority shareholder: the Coca-Cola Company.

I don't trust loveliness; often sugar and spice and all things nice are simply a cover for rats and snails and marketing tales. In The Company of Wolves, Angela Carter warns us that the worst wolves can be hairy on the inside. And indeed some of them may be wearing ridiculous frocks.

Anne Thrope (Ms) is a secondary teacher in the north of England.

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