The Pleasure of Pointlessness

ZMKC recalls an early experience of being too creative for a ‘creativity-first’ school, and explains how it has influenced her career as a blogger…

When I was about nine I began exchanging letters with a girl called Paula who was in the year above me at my funny little Froebel school. I don’t know what Froebel theory is, but as it was practised there creativity was the key to everything. We wrote stories, we painted, we made glove puppets, we clay modelled. We had a nature table to which a boy called John Belgrave, who claimed to own the whole of Belgravia, once contributed a dead mole and another time a perfectly ordinary looking rock which he claimed was a meteorite he had caught with his bare hands, and a set of Cuisenaire rods –  but that was as close as we got to maths or science.

I can no longer remember how the letters started. I don’t know whose idea it was – I don’t remember talking about it or agreeing to give it a go. All I remember is that we wrote as if we were a pair of businessmen, and the letters were taken up entirely with arrangements to have meals together or discussions about the meals we’d had the last time we’d met. ‘Dear Dewsbury-Briggs,’ I would write (we settled, without any discussion, on the use of surnames, possibly because we both had brothers who went to boarding schools and had learnt from them that this was how things were done) ‘I’ve been away investigating sales possibilities in the South of France but am back in London for a week or two. Wondering if you feel like lunch some time – we could go to the Poule au Pot, although I gather the duck is not what it was, so perhaps my club – Tuesday, 12.30, if you’re free?’ and she would write back to me in similar vein. The whole thing gave us a lot of stupid amusement.

And then one day one of the teachers discovered our correspondence. We were each asked to explain ourselves. Why were we doing this? Neither of us had the faintest idea. Distrustful of such mysterious behaviour, the powers that be made it clear that we had to stop. And so, feeling rather ashamed, we did.

I’d forgotten about this episode until the other day when someone asked me why I blogged. Those absurd letters came back to me and I realised that the empty space that they’d left – the one marked ‘pointless fun’ – has at last been filled: by blogging. Like my letters to the imaginary Dewsbury-Briggs, my blog posts do not bring me any money or get me any closer to getting a certificate or a better job. They are just a way of doing one of the best things of all in life, one of the things we’re not really supposed to do (especially once adult) – being idiotic and mucking around.

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10 thoughts on “The Pleasure of Pointlessness

    September 14, 2011 at 09:37

    How nice that blogging fills that space. I spent much time in school shaking with silent laughter at daft shared jokes. On leaving school I started working in an insurance company that had a large yearly intake of teenagers like me. We carried on as if still in school, freewheeling through the week and generally messing. On a short-lived accountancy course my friend and I were actually separated by one lecturer due to laughing & disrupting the class (this was aged 21!). It took me quite a while to “grow up”. I still have echoes of it with my brothers or certain friends but life is all too serious these days.

    September 14, 2011 at 09:41

    That’s us, a crowd of idiotic muckers.

    September 14, 2011 at 12:23

    Sorry, I didn’t intend to repeat myself – the dabbler’s comments move in mysterious ways

  4. Frank Key
    September 14, 2011 at 13:18

    When I was little I started a newspaper devoted to the subject of nisbet spotting. The point, if there was one, was that nobody had ever spotted a nisbet. In spite of this, my paper was the “Official Journal of the Society of Nisbet Spotters”.

    To a large extent, the childish glee I took in this project has informed every single word I’ve written in the ensuing decades. It may even be that I am still writing a version of it, in blog form rather than pen and paper.

      September 14, 2011 at 17:36

      Frank, go stand in the naughty corner or say twelve hail Marys.

    September 14, 2011 at 14:56

    You clearly cater for many tastes Frank…

    September 14, 2011 at 20:51

    At school I wrote an extremely silly play called “The Quest for the Golden Trousers”, and I still laugh now when I think of the jokes therein.

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