Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Could Do Better

Jayne came running down to the school gate, pig tails flying left and right, one sock up, one down. That familiar brown envelope in her hand: the school report.
Jayne was the youngest of three, a decent 8 year age gap between her and her older brothers. All were outgoing but Jayne was the bubbliest and, having brothers, a tomboy, much to her mother’s frustration! Although Sindy and Barbie were everywhere, it was as fashion models for the clothes she designed and made rather than ‘make believe.’ She was much happier out on the allotment with Dad or helping him clean windows or fix the car [the wheel nut going plop was a story on its own.]
She handed the envelope to her mother and they turned to walk home, Jayne telling Mom what she had done that day and that she had been asked again to do a painting for another competition so had spent most of the day on her own in the corridor with paints and paper. Although happy to be doing this, she felt ostracised from her class mates who were doing normal school things.
The report went ‘on the side’ unopened until Dad came home and it never bothered Jayne that much what was on that single piece of see through paper as she was ahead in reading and writing and of course art. The only thing that annoyed her was the teachers calling her a liar when she said she had read all the blue book, red book and green book series and was currently reading Guns of Navarone at 9 years old.

Onto girls grammar school along with most of her peers. All a bright bunch, the brightest going to King Eds the rest, to one of two good grammar schools or the one decent comprehensive. A uniform. Yuck. But hey, they all looked the same.. apart from the young lady who was 11 going on 21 who rolled the skirt up shorter, wore heels an inch higher, plucked her eyebrows [???] and had a mole on her face that made her look like a movie star. Here there were streams; A, B, C, the unmentionables. Never one for the A stream Jayne settled into B then dropped to C. Although bright, her grasp of new facts and figures was slow to embed in her brain and languages were her nemesis. But dropping to C stream meant CSE not GCSE. At senior school, remembering things was important but if Jayne couldn’t picture it, she struggled to remember it. So senior school was hard work but she tried.

College was art based and then off into the big wide world of self employment, a big move at such a young age.
 Then marriage and a mortgage. Robbing Peter to pay Paul, wrapped up in duvets in the winter because they couldn’t afford a bag of coal. Net curtains stuck to the glass in the frost; no double glazing or central heating. Leaving the washing soaking in the bath to come home and find ice had formed on top of it.
But Jayne coped. She always tried her best just as she had at school.

Jayne is now single and appears to be having a great life to those on the outside with everything in place for a happy life.
On the inside the mask drops and life changing issues that come at 50 and with singledom occur and have to be dealt with.  Jayne is dissatisfied with her life. Feels lost that she hasn’t achieve anything and wonders why she exists if she feels so dissatisfied. She can’t understand why she feels she has never pleased everyone in her life, why she has always felt she could have done more or should have done better. Was she a complete let down? No she didn’t totally think so after all she was a successful businesswoman. No she didn’t have the flash car or the big house but she was generally happy with her lot.

In clearing out the loft to move house, a bunch of brown envelopes are in the bottom of a box below big Ted and Sindy and Barbie.  Just like old photos, Jayne can’t resist looking at them. Laying them out in order, those beautiful delicate thin sheets of paper with their flowing delicate handwriting, followed by the blue covered little books with much bolder biro strokes, there is a common thread that strikes a chord and answers some of Jayne’s issues. Her eyes glance from one to the next; ‘could do better.’ 

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