Friday, May 16, 2014

mental gym

When I was in grade 6 for at least half the year anyway (because something went wrong with our first teacher - did he have a stroke? He was a bit like Terry-Thomas) we had Mr Jones, who was the most ancient person in the world, back from retirement, had a billion years already behind him at Auburn South, seemingly concocted all his lessons in about 1921 and routinely doled them out each same week every year. I remember two things about him: one, that he told us about a friend of his who got a teaching job in Tasmania and who then wrote him letters without a return address, the last of which wondered why Mr Jones didn't reply (it just occurred to me that perhaps this was a complex ruse to dump Mr Jones as a friend, though of course not writing at all would have been a better ruse, but not as complex). The other, that a girl in his class once (he told us, and it obviously deeply affected him, as it would) got the plastic bit from the top of a biro stuck in her throat and died, so he was always telling us never to suck our biros. You tell kids these days not to suck their biros and they probably wonder what you're talking about, maybe.

Anyway, Mr Jones was probably hella progressive in 1921 when he created something called Mental Gym. The talented elites in the class (I wasn't one) mentioned Mental Gym's friend, 'Spastic Joe', whenever this came up. Actually, that's another thing I remember about Mr Jones. The talented elites were so talented, they were allowed to correct their own work from a handwritten exercise book of answers. However, some of the answers in the handwritten exercise book were actually deliberately wrong, to guard against cheats. The talented elites did cheat, and were exposed by Mr Jones in front of the class. I'm so glad I wasn't a talented elite because of course I would have done the same.

Mental Gym is an interesting concept however and I note that someone is doing good business in selling brain exercises around the place. I wonder if sudoku etc, things I've never gone near, are similarly good for your mind. I am sure crosswords are, and of course they only serve to remind me how broken my mind really is, because I can never find the words, even if often, as my grandmother used to say, 'I can see it'. Mind you, she was great at crosswords and did them daily.

In the actual real gym I find myself doing all kinds of mad things with my mind because I get so bored on that rowing machine, I am reviving fractions I never thought I could ever summon again, working out what percentage of time I've got through and how much longer I have to go. It's the rowing machine particularly because I always spend at least twenty minutes on it, so I'm always doing this basic philosophising about how much longer I have to go and whether I'm more than half way through the overall torture (it depends I suppose when you consider the torture to have begun - in setting off for the gym in the first place? Does it end with the exercise? Because the changing rooms, see below, are even worse torture).

That's about all I have to say about mental gym, but also, don't suck your biro or expect self-assessment to be unproblematic. One of the talented elites in question had a very unusual name and I just looked him up and he is a GP. The other has a more common name and I couldn't find him. There may have been others, but I only remember two. The first of them, the GP, claimed to have had sex with one of the girls in the class, a story that I realised about twenty years later was almost certainly absolutely not true. Maybe thirty years later. Maybe I still slightly wonder if it was true, because he could do most things...

NB I just did a google search on Mr Jones and Auburn South and found there is a very popular cafe aka international restaurant on Auburn Road, called Porgi + Mr Jones I wonder what that's about. 

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