I wrote this for last night’s Speakeasy evening. The theme was Education.
Half past eight and a school day. Robbie carefully chews and swallows the sandwich he has made for his breakfast. You can’t learn on an empty belly. And he wants to learn. Robbie wants an education.
Robbie isn’t going to miss out on learning. He doesn’t want to end up like his big brother Ed, the family’s “breadwinner”, still sleeping upstairs and unlikely to rise for another few hours. He’ll probably miss his meeting with his parole officer again. What a waste. He should have got himself an education. Should have turned left out of the front door and not right. You’ve gotta turn left for an education.
Or his sister, Stella. Stella would be at the local discount supermarket by now working all hours for a pittance. Treated like dirt. They change her shift patterns without notice even though she struggles to arrange for someone to look after the kid. You see, she didn’t listen, wouldn’t listen. Insisted on turning right out of the front door. You gotta turn left. Left for a proper education.
None of that is for Robbie. He wants better. He will get better. Only fourteen years old and he doesn’t need to even think about it. He knows that by the time he is thirty, maybe even sooner, he will be rich, very rich, will be well away from this run-down estate and will have the sort of success and security that comes only with a good education. And so every morning he turns left out of the front door. Not right. Left.
This morning will be no different. He opens the front door. Sniffs the air. Looks up and down the street. A straggling stream of uniforms off to school, crowding the pavement. Off to receive instruction from well-qualified and concerned teachers. To a well-managed school boasting glowing reports from the school inspectors.
Robbie smiles at someone he knows, steps out of the house and turns left. Left against the flow of school uniforms, against the flow of losers. Left towards the gambling dens, the crack-houses, the low-life brothels, and the tricksters, the shysters and the con men. Left towards the university of life. Not right towards the school like Ed and Stella. Not right where you learn how to fail. Not right to the dustbin of mediocrity.
Nah. Robbie always turns left. Robbie wants an education.
And if you want an education, you gotta turn left.