Saturday, December 30, 2006

We Don't Need No Education

Nando and I were sitting in the lounge, watching the National Geographic Channel. That's one thing I like about Nando, he likes watching documentaries. I had put the program on. It was a show about an apeman of Sumartra, or something like that. M1 and the Exotic Flower arrive home, with a little bit of shopping from the supermarket. They are always complaining about not having money, but they continually buy ready meals and convenience foods, which are more expensive. While M1 heats ribs up in the oven (ribs that came in a cardboard box--surely ribs aren't supposed to come in cardboard boxes, unless they are cooked already), the Flower struts into the lounge. She takes a look at the screen and asks what we are watching, as if she's seen something disturbing. "A documentary," I inform her.
As Nando is occupying her usual seat, the Flower takes up position on the end settee, closest to the TV. After a couple of minutes, she says, "you're not seriously interested in this, are you?"
"Of course we are," I reply. "Nando and I like documentaries." She makes a face. Unable to resist further conversation on the matter, I add, "there are two pages of documentary channels on the menu, don't you ever watch any of them?"
"I never watch documentaries," she responds. "Why would anyone want to watch that stuff?"
"To learn stuff." Even the Black Queen liked documentaries.
"I learn stuff in my classes at college. That's enough," the flower says.
"You can continue to learn things, even after you finish school," I explain.
"I don't go to school, I go to college," the Flower pronounces, from the safety of an intellectual vacuum. "There is a difference."
I should have said, "explain the difference," but as I feel ill, I was not up for a debate as much as I usually am. Instead, I look at Nando and he's just chuckling to himself, at what she has said, as is his habit. M1 comes in and joins us, bringing their crappy meal on plates I have washed. "Nando likes history and so do I," I say.
Turning to Nando, she asks, "what kind of history do you like?"
"There is only one history," Nando announces.
"But some people like the history of wars," the Flower continues. "Other people like history of the monarchy."
"The first thing I like is history of the Romans," Nando says. That's a bit of an understatement. Almost 2000 years after the fact, Nando is still claiming credit for the Romans, simply because he is from Italy. He's not even from Rome.
"The only history I like is the Titanic," explains the Flower, "and not because of the movie."
"The Titanic isn't history," Nando replies, "it's just six guys driving a boat who crash into an iceberg."
"Just the other night, Nando and I watched a documentary on the Titanic," I interject, hoping to catch the Flower's interest. " 'Seconds From Disaster,' the series I did a couple of shows for...they did a show on the Titanic. Was it last night, or the night before we watched that?" Nando shakes his head as he can't remember.
The flower asks, "how long is this on for?" She has sampled one of the ribs. I can't tell if the look of dissatisfaction on her face is due to the food, or to what's on the tele. I suspect it's both. When she starts asking questions about what's on and how long it's on for, that means there is something she would like to watch, or she just hates what we have on. So many times when she is here, we have bowed to what she wants to watch. One of her girly-girly programs, or some reality show about singing, or dancing. This evening, it's manly TV.
"It's an hour long program and it ends at five," I take great pleasure in telling her, "in ten minutes. Then the Arsenal game is on."
Her big, babydoll eyes snap up sharply at this. "You're watching football?" From the way she asks, I can tell the prospect isn't much more appealing to her than documentaries. Nando nods yes, in response to her question as does M1. M1 is an Arsenal supporter, so he will be in favor of watching the game. As the Flower digests this latest bit of news, I am amused at her discomfort. I don't care that much if we watch the game, I just enjoy seeing her not get her way for once. While she and M1 are eating, she suddenly says to him, "should we be eating now? We're supposed to go out for fish and chips with my brother, at seven. It's free food." Her brother works at some fish and chip shop, I think. "If I eat this now, I won't be hungry later," she adds. These two could have saved even more money if they waited to have the free dinner with the Flower's brother. Nando would say they're two idiots.
"Are you going to be going to university?" I ask the Flower. She nods in the affirmative. "What will you be studying?"
"I'm doing a degree in midwifery," she replies.
I press on with my line of questioning, "won't you have to study biology for that?"
"It's all in the program," she says with only minor interest.
"When do you start university?"
"Next October."
I think for a minute, then ask, "have you started applying yet?"
"Yes," she confirms, while licking her fingers. She says that she has used some service which distributes the applicants information to a number of universities, but that her first choice one requires a separate application, which is harder than the others. Unsurprisingly, she hasn't completed that one yet.
"What made you decide you wanted to be a midwife?" I ask.
"A lot of my friends have had babies," she explains, "and they all said that their midwives were crap. I looked at what my parents do and they both do jobs they don't like." So do a lot of people. Welcome to the real world, sweetheart. "I wanted to do something rewarding and if I progress to become a consultant midwife, they make a lot of money."
"Why don't you become a doctor? Surely they make more."
She looks at me like she is alarmed. "I don't want to deal with lots of different things, I just want to deliver babies." I guess delivering them is better than having them as a teenager. As the Arsenal game starts, the Flower gets on her mobile and calls her mother. She tries to persuade her mother to join M1 and her, later, to go to the movies. They're short of money, but they have money to go to the movies. It seems that none of their friends want to go and she and M1 would rather not go by themselves. Her mother refuses and they never think to invite me.


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