Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

"You're All Right, Lauren": All My Life I Sought That Accolade. Now I Know Better. (Now What?)

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

"You're All Right, Lauren": All My Life I Sought That Accolade. Now I Know Better. (Now What?)

Article excerpt

It took a long time. But in my third year at school I had finally shed enough brain cells and vowels to receive the ultimate accolade from one of the top-ranking bullies in our year. My crimes against Mandy and her gang included: a) being weird (I read the Bible and Shakespeare at lunchtime, instead of running down the end of the field to look at the flasher's penis; and b) being a snob (she had yelled down the corridor at me some months before: "You think you're so much better than everyone Boothy", to which I had rashly replied: "Not exactly. You think I'm better than you and you're absolutely right").

Now, though, on a hot summer's afternoon I was "in". I had worked hard all spring at dropping my aitches and other fairly random consonants and never read anything except teen mags in public. This special afternoon, Mandy sat next to me, copying my history notes and said the magic words: "You're all right you are, Boothy." My heart soared.

It meant I was no longer a loner, weird, an outsider, a swotty/snob/freak. Those five words meant that I was almost as good as she was, which meant nearly mediocre enough to be "ordinary".

It's a phrase I still hear. It haunts me, and up until this weekend I'm ashamed to admit that I still received it with a humble, excited gratitude. Not any more.

It's a certain sort of person, normally male, with a regional accent, who still insists on gasping "you're all right" and damning me with their faintest of praise when we meet.

At a friend's birthday dinner on Saturday, "Billie" spent the entire meal staring at me from the other end of the table. Later, he strutted over, all skinhead crop and attitude, before plonking himself down on the sofa next to me. He had been in the army ten years and now "worked in films". He was, he warned, "pretty outspoken so don't let me shock you and don't get offended". …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.