You should know by now that I am trapped in a constant state of embogglement at the world around me. Just getting through the day is a struggle, it really is.
And this week has been a real test, thanks to the cross-Channel absconding of 15 year-old Megan Stammers and Jeremy Forrest, a maths teacher from Bishop Bell Church of England School in Eastbourne. No, not because of the sheer derangement of such an act but because it has come to my attention that in February they both attended a school trip. To Los Angeles.
Excuse me? Los Angeles? The LA that’s in California? You know, it’s been this fact that has astounded me almost as much as a 30 year-old teacher thinking that running off with a school girl is an intelligent career move. Since when did school children start going on trips to Los Angeles? Look, I know it’s been a while since I was at school (well, 25 years if you need cold, hard facts) but I had no idea that teenage academic life had become such a whirlwind of social delight.
When I was at school (yup, you knew this was coming) school trips consisted of an hour’s coach drive down the motorway and a bag of hot sandwiches in a lay-by, the duration of which was exactly long enough for three girls of get pregnant on the back seat, one boy to set fire to the upholstery and two teachers to hand in their notice.
I have no idea what would have happened had we been taken to LA. Three pupils would have gone missing over the Atlantic, there’d have been an attempted hijack, every female in class 2B would have been lured into the porn industry and Ventura Highway would have been closed by a massive game of Chicken.
More to the point, we could barely afford to pay the phone bill let alone travel to Cali-frigging-fornia, and I speak here for both my mid-80s family and community. In fact I find it incomprehensible that a) the school would have come up with such a wild notion, b) that the teachers would have stopped laughing/ crying/ calling the police long enough to give us the details and c) that any of us would have scrapped together enough money for in-flight Maltesers let alone the rest of the shebang. In fact I never even got on a plane until my early 20s, such was my state of cashlessness. LA at the age of 15 would have given me a turn of such massive proportions that I’d have had to have been sent home in a crate.
Anyway, this malarchy doesn’t half up the ante in the school yard’s social class league tables. We used to form gangs on the basis of whether or not we watched the Muppets. How that’s changed. Imagine what it’s like to be the kid who can’t afford the bus fare yet be surrounded by mates with LA tans and souvenir Oscars. It’d be like attending the Tory party conference when you’re homeless and we all know how utterly bleak that would be.
So Christ knows what this’ll mean for Kraken Junior by the time she is 15. I’m going to start saving for a space helmet and packets of powdered cottage pie because something tells me that by then LA will be just, so, like 2012. Hopefully so too will be the urge for teachers to run off with their charges. That’s one part of a school trip that no scrimping parent should ever have to pay for.
So what do you think? Did you get to go to LA when you were at school? Or did you find your mates getting knocked up en route to any given open-air museum like I did?