The 4%, culture shock and serial killers
PLEASING news from the GCSE students last week, who seem to have done themselves proud. 96 percent attained enough points to study overseas.
My own GCSEs, long ago in the mists of time, were disastrous. My final year at Big School largely involved teenage meditations on The Point Of It All, and I preferred staring meaningfully into the distance to cracking open a textbook. As a result I did terribly in everything except English, which was for me just one of those subjects kids get sometimes, where you’re looking around confused because it’s as if they’re trying to teach you how to breathe.
Unfortunately this aptitude was drowned in depression, so I was expelled from college for being an unconscionable arse and spent the next decade floundering, until I applied for a job at a gaming magazine on a whim.
There I discovered that fixing everyone else’s English was a valued skill. I got very lucky; lucky to have one damn thing I was good at, and lucky to have stumbled into a way of making use of it.
So this is my roundabout way of raising a hand to the 4 percent. 4 percent this year, 16 percent last year. I was one of you, opening my results and having my fears confirmed. All I can say is that this is just one small stop on the road to adulthood, and there are many ways to find a life.
I feel like the way the cultures of the UK and the Falklands have evolved differently is a fascinating subject, and some sociologist or other should get on the case immediately.
There is a perception in Blighty that the Islands are a sort of UK-On-Antarctica. Yet in spite of the constant influx of British immigrants, the Falklands has developed its own identity.
For example, let’s talk about the police presence.
In the UK, a person can go decades without the police playing any role in their lives. One time, when the kids were babies, I got in a bit of a kerfuffle with the 18 year-old kid next door and two of his mates because they wouldn’t turn their music down and I was somewhat insane with sleeplessness. Nobody afterwards gave a single thought to calling the police, because who the hell calls the police? They’re ridiculously over stretched. Mostly you just sort things out for yourself.
Doubtless had this occurred in the Falklands, we would all have found ourselves up before the beak, looking shamefaced as Crown Counsel Stuart Walker described the offending hurly-burly in his stern voice. Nobody wants to be on the wrong end of Stuart Walker’s stern voice.
On arrival in the Islands I soon learned that the rules actually count. Once while driving, I took a wrong turn on the one-way street by Deano’s and the police were calling as I arrived back at the house.
Another time I lightly touched a parked vehicle, checked there was no damage, and tootled off. The police arrived a few days later after a Facebook posse tracked down my identity. When the officer came to the house, it took me a full five minutes to work out what he meant when he said that I had ‘been involved in a collision then fled the scene’.
He left taking no action, which was a relief as at one stage I had thought I was going to be wheeled out of there Lecter-style, on a sack truck and wearing a muzzle.
Indeed, it must be strange for incoming officers, going from responding to muggings or robberies in the UK to arriving here to face: “My wife just called me a flatulent simpleton, which is definitely a hate crime.”
God forbid the police should be so busy with more serious crime that they don’t have time to sweat the small stuff- but the happy situation is that they do.
My point is merely that to the UK emigrant, it’s a cultural shock. It’s not British, it’s Falkland Islander, and there’s an academic text waiting to be written on the subject. I have a million of these, by the way, if anyone qualified wants to ask me about it.
There is a joke in my head that I like, even though I’m pretty sure I didn’t write it.
It’s the middle of the night and a car stops to pick up a hitchhiker. The hitchhiker gets into the car and says to the driver, “Aren’t you worried I might be a serial killer?” And the driver laughs and says, “Oh no, the odds of there being two serial killers in the same car are astronomical.”
I couldn’t really say this while I was on the Penguin News staff. But now I’m not, so to hell with it.
What I want to say is, do you have any idea how lucky you are with this paper? The quality of Penguin News soars beyond anything a population of this size could reasonably expect.
The standard is so high that it makes you forget nothing ever happens here. You had a lot of news about 38 years ago and since then it’s been fairly quiet. Yet there is Penguin News, every Friday, binding this community together.
I promise you, the odds against obtaining the string of staff you’ve had at PN – Lisa of course, but also Fran, Roddy, John, Sharon, Peter, Jenny and more – is astronomical. Each and every one of them, a serial killer. A whole car full of serial killers.