By Louis Rive –
“Please rise for hymn number 54”.
The organ sounded and wheezed through to the start of another badly written biblical epic. Then silence. We all stood as one, mouths closed. United in the silence. The school choir feebly attempted imperfect harmonies from the front of the vast auditorium but it only intensified the silence. It was the only thing we did together. Every morning this happened. A great show of unity against the powers that be. The teachers looked on from the wings. Smug faces leering at our petty defiance. They knew that if they left us alone we would tear ourselves apart. And they were right.
Even as we funneled out into the halls the cracks were emerging. Cliques clotted quickly as social status overtook any bonds of the anti establishment. School was a fucked up concept. Though there existed a few creditable examples, on the whole it was thousands of kids with nothing in common, unwilling to learn what they didn’t care about. Within the year of my contemporaries personalities clashed and came together. Anthropologically speaking, you could describe the social system of the class of 2001 into castes. Broadly speaking there were three principle castes.
- The Jocks.
Owing their name not to their Scottish heritage but rather to a transatlantic imported moniker, the Jocks were the top strata of the system. On the whole they were the best at sports and were made up by those very much athletically minded. Jock women were, by definition, the hottest girls in the year. The kind of girls that exploded through puberty and were effectively women by the age of fourteen. Tits and make up, they were the object of many a fantasy for those down the social strata. What they made up for in looks, they truly lacked in intelligence. Still, they were fucking untouchable to the likes of me. The Jocks lorded it, capable of anything that didn’t involve standardized exams or mental ability. Most of them fell on hard times once the school bubble burst. Rather like Tsarist aristocracy, the rug was pulled from beneath them as the revolution of real life finally took hold. Johnny “King of the Jocks” now works as a gasman while Danielle, his queen for so long has a couple of kids and is perma-tanned orange. The Jocks were wankers, yes but tolerable in small measure. Like today’s upper classes they were fine if you didn’t take them too seriously. That was just me though. If you were a geek then your life was made hell by them.
- The Geeks
Another trans-atlantically dubbed group, the Geeks stood as sworn enemies of Jock culture. Patrons of the arts and music scenes, the Geeks stood for culture. But it was very much their culture. A smug sense of superiority positively oozed from their headquarters behind the music block. It was so hard to talk to them about anything because they always thought they knew better than you in any subject except sport. The Geeks were certainly the bottom rung but their power lay in their numbers. There was fucking loads of them. With an all encompassing acceptance policy the Geeks offset the Jocks physical prowess with sheer weight of numbers. True the birds were mingin’ but they didn’t care. As long as you didn’t like sport and were willing to pander to the wanker Jamie, the dear leaders’ whim, then you could be a geek. Easy. Their moment in the sun would come in the last year of school when “Jamie the wanker” was elected head boy, a traditional Jock position. The house was shaken to its’ foundations and Jock power waned. Brains had triumphed over brawn. It didn’t detract from the fact that Jamie was indeed, an utter wanker.
- The Indies
Filling the void in between came the Indies. The self-professed cool crowd, they were perhaps the most contemptible of the lot. They liked music as long as nobody else had heard of it and many played the “cool” instruments (bass, bongo drums and kit). This separated them from the geeks, many of whom played the flute or the bassoon. The Indies wrote poetry, smoked weed, somehow knew about clubs and bars despite being 14 and generally thought they were the proverbial “dog’s bollocks”. The men were shy introverts, the women were pretty but utterly false, with a deep interest in shy introverts. Unlike the other two factions, the Indies had no one leader. Instead a loose oligarchy existed seemingly made up by people who were really, really into Lou Reed and understood what was going on in ‘2001; A Space Odyssey’. Men and women habitually swapped partners until the whole incestuous shit show imploded when everyone had finally shagged everyone else.
So those were the three castes. By no means did this account for everyone. There existed a minor sect that floated around the main core. The Footballers led a monastic existence, eschewing the caste system and dedicating themselves wholly to playing football given any length of free time. The Footballers were fine but for one thing. They were an all male society. I would have happily joined them but I was really desperate to get my end away.
Then there was us. We could not be categorized. Maybe this doesn’t apply to me but certainly the others around me were vaguely rounded individuals and nice guys on the whole. We had a broad interest in many things, encompassing all three castes. Therefore everyone shunned us.
Whenever there is a high school shooting or killing spree it is almost always a member of the un-categorized. Only these people ever have the desire to rid the world of a few vapid sycophants they are forced to be co-educated with. Only these people have the desire to break the mould and do something profound. Only these few people have discernable personalities. I am not saying that we were a bunch of brooding murderers. That was only in America. Where the hell were we going to get an automatic weapon in South Edinburgh? We did talk about it 50% of the time though. The other 50% of the time was a desperate struggle to try and get some fanny.
Copulation was very much caste specific. The idea of “getting with” with a member of another caste was frowned upon. This all changed when alcohol and teenage hormones came together in the form of a house party. Here, anything could happen. Jocks and Geeks, fighting and fucking in equal measure. The Indies would take the opportunity to sample another member of their ruling class. Once or twice a lucky Footballer would end up at least fingering a drunken geek or a rejected Indy from their great game of musical shags. But not us. I don’t know what it was when we talked to girls. Something about the cold calculation and lack of interest in what our idiot contemporaries had to say. Girls would rather spend time muscled rugby types, even if they had to act as the spoils of war between two or three of the First XV. It was a sure fire way to social recognition. If not them then at least some with foolish mop heads, who professed knowledge of love and heartache, aged 14. I didn’t know about love or heartache. I just wanted some meaningless sex. As did everybody else in my un–category. This would come to define the next five years of school.