Tweet Junior infants 1986. I can smell it in my memory better than I can see it. Try as much as I might, all I can coax out of my mind's eye is a coat rack laden with snorkle jackets, a couple of dead wasps on a windowsill and a breezeblock wall painted yellow. I must have stared at that breezeblock wall for a long time in junior infants, because I remember details of it; flattened bits of blue tack, the channel between the bricks, a dribble of paint frozen hard. But the smell of junior infants, on the other hand, that's a vast continent. There's one big smell, the junior infants smell - a smell that I will take to the grave. This smell is so clear in my mind, I can still break it down into constituent parts, crayola wax, bleach, shitty little jam sandwiches, a cloth that mopped up gone off milk, new shoes, dead leaves traipsed in from the yard, chalk powder, and, the most heart-tugging smell of all, marla. Whenever I smell marla, I go weak. It's my madeleine.
wheel da fuckin' biccie!
I'm thinking of junior infants because I was out with Tripping Along the Ledge blogger Eoin recently and we were talking about embarrassing stuff remembered from primary school. Specifically, how grown adults bring up things that happened way back in the day as if they only happened last week. For example, you could be socialising in a pub in your home town when some character you barely recognise will approach you out of the blue, clatter you chummily over the shoulder, introduce you to his wife, and then say "remember that time in Mrs Mangan's class when you followed through on a fart."
Eoin's story was about some young fella zipping his mickey into his trousers. Sadly, my story doesn't enjoy the luxury of having somebody else as its central star, yet it's weirdly similar to Eoin's in that involves junior infants, nudity, and a toilet.
The year's 1986. The class is Kells junior infants. After getting permission to take a number two toilet break in class, I do my business without checking to see if there is enough loo roll for wiping (being five, my brain is not developed enough to form such contingency plans). Only a few sheets remain - definitely not enough. I figure I'd better ask the teacher for more rather than go around with an itchy bum all day, which, you must admit, is hygienic thinking. I pull up my trousers, exit the toilet and raise my hand to ask the teacher for an extra roll. Thirty heads swivel round. Laughter. Confused, I look at the teacher. She's laughing too. I look to my twin. He's not laughing, he's curling into a hopeless cringy shape. "Look at the twin's willy" cries a girl's voice. I feel the air around my legs, look down, and experience immediate, excruciating, shame. I turn on my heels and scurry. More laughter. Compounded misery. There's a pathetic little tail of bog roll flapping from my skinny hole, and it follows me as I disappear back into the shameful sanctity of the toilet cubicle.
Twenty-two years later, I'm standing at the bar of Whelans when a woman approaches me. "Well, you're one of the twins from Kells aren't you?" she says. I can vaguely remember her and try to exchange small talk. I introduce her to a couple of friends from Trinity. "In fairness, we hardly remember each other", she tells them, "but wait until I tell yis about this time in junior infants..."
Holy Fuck it's Soundcloud!
02 - Embrace - Now You're Nobody by asleepontheheap
(Embrace are britpop also-rans who, in spite of mostly being shite, squirreled this impossibly lovely song away on their second EP*. You can download it by clicking on the small arrow)
*according to a commenter it is also on their debut album, which I have on cassette somewhere. Going to blow the dust off it later. I might have been a bit quick to rubbish them.