By Tom Manning
Did I tell you to pack away, Manning? Then why is your pencil case in your bag? That bell is for me, not for you. By the end of this conversation I’d been given a detention, forcing me to miss my lunch brake. I sat at a desk and listened to the muffled sound of arguments and laughter outside.
I was told to think about my actions. But just as I’d been doing at the end of the lesson, I sat watching the clock on the wall, waiting for lunch to be over.
As my mind wondered I started to daydream about what it would be like to be a hairdresser. I quite fancied being a hairdresser. But if ever did become one, I’d never work in a stuffy little barbers like the one I went to. I would try to win awards, or cut celebrities hair, or style models for catwalk shows. I wanted to take something ordinary and be extraordinary at it.
I had lots of ideas like this. I also wanted to be an electrician, a plumber and, until I got sick of them, a teacher. My mum said it was just this weeks’ fad, as I latched on to the next thing, devoured it, got bored and moved on. My teachers told me to concentrate harder. If I didn’t focus on one thing I wouldn’t be good at anything.
Most of my time at school was spent being squashed into sets, lessons and detentions, designed to make me more ‘manageable’. To put me on a track that ran in a straight line from A to B, with B being where other people decided I should end up. What a load of bollocks. My varied and evolving interests were their problem, not mine. Obviously I wasn’t able to articulate this at the time, that’s why I spent so much of it in detention.
When I read a book about graphic design from the school library (in detention) I started to wonder if I wasn’t as weird as people were telling me. When you’re a graphic designer you get a brief from a client and that client could be anybody. So every time you get a new brief, you work for a new company. Suddenly I could be a hairdresser one week and a plumber the next.
SCA is a natural environment for people with these kinds of desires. Every brief you’re someone new and you’re encouraged to be extraordinary by a network of staff and mentors who hate ordinariness as much as you. Now when I look at the clock in the corner of my laptop, I’m shocked that it’s already 4pm. The school bell’s been and gone, but never mind, there’s still more to do.
I’m at a place where I can be myself, in increasingly better versions. And I know that Marc has big plans for that kid, sitting in detention, thinking about their actions. For that, I’m very grateful.