The Partisan


[ and who says old white men in suits and hats don’t rock]

i’m watching a boot leg film of Leonard Cohen, world tour 2008 – the stage is full of old, ugly, men in strange hats and suits that remind me of my father and his Sunday best.
They’re playing as if their very lives depend on it and perhaps they do, but this is no showmanship, no slick styling, this is old men who have spent a long time getting very good at what they do.

And it’s my turn to choose the tune among the flotsam and jetsam, the detritus of Yr 9, the refugees from learning, the chuck outs, the self selecting opters out of co-operation, courtesy and classrooms.

They have drifted or been directed to here, the behavior room, the behavior teacher and we should be working, doing something useful, but its the fag end of the day, so we’re playing music.

The rules are simple, we all get to choose, no-one rubbishes anyone else’s choice and we have to make a comment.

I do my best, really I do, but more and more I feel like a member of the royal family watching some tribal performance, in terrible danger of nodding my head on the off beat, the wrong beat.

Dub Step – makes my teeth hurt

Grime – quite a lot of swearing really

X Factor winner – do you want to hear the original ?

And because the boys are fair, sometimes, just sometimes, I get to choose a tune.

Mohammed 1, from Papua New Guinea picks up the french, translates for us all
“This guy, he’s like a soldier, undercover, the baddies have killed his family, but he goes on killing, and these other people they hide him and then they get killed”

Mohammed Squared – double named for double blessings – an unaccompanied minor from Afghanistan, smuggled across the border in the boot of a car, doesn’t say much, but then he doesn’t.

Yahya – five countries in 10 years – in the jargon a child with no mother tongue smiles when the mandolin soars above the guitars.

And then the door burst open and Saara, refugee from science bursts in and by force of personality alone gets to choose the next track and we all remember the rules and listen politely to another X Factor finalist.

The bell rings and they scatter and I sneak another quick play and watch the old men do it right.

About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

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