I went to a large Melbourne girls’ school which, from year 7 to year 10, ran a thing called PEGS – the Program for Educationally Gifted Students (cue the obligatory joke about “square pegs”). Our year level had six forms in it, and I was in the PEGS form – known, inevitably, as “The Brains”, and about as popular with the other forms as you might imagine.
In its wisdom, the school inflicted a compulsory activity known as “Form Sport” on years 7 and 8. I think the idea was to foster friendship and communication between the separate forms, and thereby diminish the anonymity that resulted from having well over a hundred students in each year-group. This was a commendable enough aim, I suppose – but fostering friendship and communication by having the different forms play against each other in compulsory lunchtime sports matches hardly seemed the most – ah – efficacious way to achieve it.
One sunny lunchtime, with the usual grumbling and gurning (most of us hated the whole idea of Form Sport, and resented losing our lunchtime to it), The Brains of 8G set off to the playing field. Softball was the sport du jour, and we were playing against the notorious “Badly-Behaved Form”, which included the year’s most loudmouthed and bellicose bullies.
Right from the outset, our opponents made their feelings about 8G glaringly apparent.
“Better watch out, 8G, you might get a tan in the sunshine.”
“Where are the books? Did you bring the Shakespeare?”
“This’ll be a walkover!”
In one of those glorious and quite unorchestrated moments of wry solidarity, 8G decided to respond to their derision by taking the piss. We made a caricature of trying to keep ourselves out of the sun. Incoming batters quoted made-up fragments of cod-Shakespeare, and performed comically-exaggerated misses with camped-up dismay. For the first time in the history of Form Sport, we were thoroughly enjoying ourselves – not least because our jeering, dimwitted rivals seemed quite unaware that we were gently ridiculing them.
Simply remembering our comedic outburst can still make me smile, but this little story has the most splendid ending, which I hereby present for the delectation of my fellow nerds, boffs, brains, geeks and otherwise untouchables. Guess what? By the end of lunchtime, we’d utterly trounced them at softball. Result!