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17 May 2001
Jamie, Year 10, Form Teacher Mr Morris.

Dear Mr and Mrs J-,

As we come to the end of another term, I find myself presented with a number of differentiating reports from your son's various subject teachers. You will find them all enclosed - some make more enjoyable reading than others! - but there are some points to which I would like to draw your attention.

The overall consensus, as always, is that Jamie's academic potential is not the slightest bit in doubt. Mr Cripps, Classics, highlights his 'extraordinary intellect and capacity to retain information, even of the most apparently trivial kind', while Mr Jackson, History, has been impressed with his 'quick and sharp mind in class'. Such comments you will find echoed throughout these end-of-term reports, and they should encourage you and your boy.

Indeed, on the occasions I have hosted a class blessed with Jamie's presence (you may have heard that our English Head, Mr Hutchings, has been only intermittently fit to teach this term), he has regularly produced insights one would not expect from a boy some years above his level. I do not think I would be exaggerating were I to say that his best work is among the most impressive seen at the school in recent memory; without wishing to build the boy up too highly, a scholarship is a foregone conclusion and, given the right school, nothing should be beyond his reach.

So far, so positive; sadly though, our statuesque subject may turn out to have feet of clay. The two masters cited above also draw attention to a disturbing fluctuation in the standard of Jamie's work, it appears, from the sublime to the ridiculous (forgive the cliché, but on this occasion it is remarkably apt). It seems bizarre that a child who one day produces a succinct yet astoundingly insightful analysis of a Manley Hopkins poem should the next find himself incapable of copying an account of the Battle of Bosworth out of a history textbook. Similarly, whilst he grasps the intricacies of complex foreign grammatical structures with ease, his marks in weekly vocabulary tests are among the lowest in his year.

These alarming discrepancies are reflected in his performance in the more physical disciplines. While giving his all on the football and hockey pitches - Miss Wallace notes that 'with improved fitness, he could certainly make a team next year' - he has only attended two classes of Physical Education this term. His constitution on Monday afternoons appears particularly vulnerable to the latest viral cold or stomach upset, and therefore Mr Barry has been unable to give him an overall grade for PE (noting only that 'unless he begins to take PE more seriously, he is in danger of becoming obese').

There is also some concern over Jamie's attitude towards masters. Generally attentive and polite (even Matron, notoriously hard to please, has commended his manners), he often appears sullen and even on occasions rude in class. At times, this has been overlooked because he has clearly grasped the subject under discussion and is frustrated at the lack of progress being made by the rest of the class; on other occasions, he will simply waste time cutting open ink cartridges with a compass when new ground is being covered, and fail the subsequent test. Worse, these failures do not seem to motivate him to improve his attitude; if anything, he delights in them, as his stock among his classmates rises with each detention accorded him. There is even a suggestion that he has failed tests deliberately in accord with 'dares' put to him by his colleagues.

I have been compelled to invite him into my office to discuss his attitude this term, and I must confess to being perplexed by our conversation. Here is a boy who showed, when questioned, the greatest desire to succeed, and talked fluently on many and varied subjects, reassuring me that he was to do himself justice; yet no sooner had he left my study than he reverted to his old ways.

You may ask why I worry, as scholarship success is so likely - surely Jamie is doing enough work to succeed? But this is my concern: a talent such as that possessed by your son should stretch itself, not rely on outside help. If he continues to rest on his laurels, while at the same time seeking the approbation of his peers above that of his elders, he will fall behind those less gifted but more dedicated; the effect of this situation on a mind like Jamie's is to sink it into even greater apathy. He will become not only obese, as Mr Barry suggests, but mentally flabby as well; his highly promising pool of an intellect will begin to stagnate. I suggest you sit Jamie down and discuss his attitude; I expect improvements before his 12th birthday next term, or we may already have lost the fight.

I hope to see you at the Head's reception next term; until then, I remain, as ever,

Yours sincerely,

Mr D. G. H. Morris


Previously on upsideclown


Current clown:

18 December 2003. George writes: This List

Most recent ten:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
(And alas we lost Neil, who last wrote Cockfosters)

Also by this clown:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
13 October 2003. Jamie writes: The Persistence of Memory
22 September 2003. Jamie writes: The Email Eunuch
1 September 2003. Jamie writes: Credo
11 August 2003. Jamie writes: Brad and Jennifer and Me
21 July 2003. Jamie writes: Interruption
30 June 2003. Jamie writes: Do you remember the first time?
12 June 2003. Jamie writes: Forthcoming Attractions
19 May 2003. Jamie writes: Stupid Mistake
28 April 2003. Jamie writes: Hoping and Praying
7 April 2003. Jamie writes: Strangers on a Plane
17 March 2003. Jamie writes: Q&A
24 February 2003. Jamie writes: Altered States
3 February 2003. Jamie writes: How to say goodbye
13 January 2003. Jamie writes: In A League Of Their Own
23 December 2002. Jamie writes: What's in a name?
2 December 2002. Jamie writes: Lies, Damned Lies and Spastics
11 November 2002. Jamie writes: Memoirs of a Gaysian: A Preface
21 October 2002. Jamie writes: Love is blindness
30 September 2002. Jamie writes: Time for bed
9 September 2002. Jamie writes: Angry Exchanges Can Be Puzzling [10]
19 August 2002. Jamie writes: High Speed
29 July 2002. Jamie writes: Firkin Hell
8 July 2002. Jamie writes: Do you, er... haiku?
13 June 2002. Jamie writes: Unnatural Porn Thrillers
20 May 2002. Jamie writes: The Triumphant Return of the Septic Fiveskins
25 April 2002. Jamie writes: Meeting People is Easy
4 April 2002. Jamie writes: I Want I Want I Want
7 March 2002. Jamie writes: The Player of Games
11 February 2002. Jamie writes: Fat Man Walking
17 January 2002. Jamie writes: Passive/Aggressive
3 January 2002. Jamie writes: Love (classified)
29 November 2001. Jamie writes: A Lil' Nite Muzak
5 November 2001. Jamie writes: Natural born liar
11 October 2001. Jamie writes: All I need
17 September 2001. Jamie writes: Postcards From The Edge (of the pool)
23 August 2001. Jamie writes: Class act
30 July 2001. Jamie writes: Ritchie Neville is dead
5 July 2001. Jamie writes: A Letter from God
11 June 2001. Jamie writes: "If it's in French, it must be deep"
17 May 2001. Jamie writes: Reportage
23 April 2001. Jamie writes: Show me the Logos
29 March 2001. Jamie writes: Sobering Thoughts
8 March 2001. Jamie writes: Stupid, Stupid, Stupid
8 February 2001. Jamie writes: Spent
15 January 2001. Jamie writes: Full to the brim
21 December 2000. Jamie writes: fuck xmas
27 November 2000. Jamie writes: Eye Candy
2 November 2000. Jamie writes: World-wide-web?
9 October 2000. Jamie writes: Kids' stuff
14 September 2000. Jamie writes: Scatological Warfare
21 August 2000. Jamie writes: I can't stand up (for falling clowns)
10 July 2000. Jamie writes: The Etymology of Greatness

Let meeeeee entertain you


We are all Upsideclown: Dan, George, James, Jamie, Matt, Neil, Victor.

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