I’ve heard it said that human beings, whether they’re aware of it or not, tend to instinctively assign specific rolls to others within their so-called ‘family unit’ in order for it to function more effectively. Survival thing apparently. Dates back to the days of pack hunting or clan fighting or something, I dunno. May well be true. However if it is, then frankly I’m still at a bit of a loss as to just exactly which role I’m supposed to fulfilling for my unit. The only position I think we can safely rule out at this stage is that of ‘the intellectual.’ Incidentally, if this point you’re quietly thinking to yourself, ‘Pff, clearly. Look at the spelling’ then shame on you, shame I say! Yes, I know I spelt it ‘rolls’ the first time and no, I’m not going to change it, because maybe if you’d hop off your grammatical high horse for a minute, you’d realise that there are certain life scenarios where this particular spelling is perfectly appropriate. So, small independent family bakers and travelling acrobat troops, that one’s for you.
The brains of the family has always been more my sisters thing really. I mean this girl’s up to her eyeballs in qualifications already and currently in the process of perusing more. Me, not so much. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no favouritism in our house – both offspring’s respective achievements have always been celebrated completely equally – but let’s face it, a BSc Honours Degree pinned up on the wall next to a fully completed Little Chef Children’s Menu Wordsearch tells it’s own story (even if the word ‘sausages’ was hidden diagonally AND backwards.) Yup, despite my loved ones being both emotionally and contractually obliged never to say it out loud, I think it’s quietly accepted round our way that if I ever come home with a degree of any sort, I should be taken directly to casualty where it can be adequately dressed and sutured as soon as possible to avoid permanent scaring. Moreover the only test I am likely to be given which may result in letters being put after my name will be on a breathalyzer. Not that any of this bothers me you understand. Life’s all about balance I reckon and me and my sis both play our important parts in maintaining a healthy educational one. She allows the family to hold it’s head up high, while I keep it’s feet firmly on the ground. It’s a good system. Her ambitious, intelligent, successful ying; to my lazy, average, unimposing yang.
Having said that, I did briefly entertain the idea of going on to further education, though truth be told, as horribly superficial as it may sound, the only reason I ever fancied becoming a Bachelor of anything was precisely so I could use it not to stay one for long. A chat up line basically. Now I suppose I might just have gone out and pretended to be university alumni, but in the end I deemed that too risky. For all I knew there was some secret handshake or hidden codeword they taught you upon completing your course, which savvy people could use to catch you out. Perhaps even a special intimately placed tattoo they brand you with when you finish that those in the know could demand to see. Besides I could only pull the whole charade off convincingly after years of acting school. Just more work. No, best play it safe: buckle down for a few years, work hard and try to come out the other side with something suitably impressive. It was simply a question of what to aim for. Far as I was concerned it was all about how it sounded, so I decided to try the respective boasts out in my head first (and when I say ‘head’ I mean of course, mirror.)
“Hello, I’m a Bachelor of Science.” Hmm. Bit too niche maybe. Lot of people find science slightly daunting – including me – could be quite alienating. A tad cold and clinical too, not very sexy. “Hi, I’m a Bachelor of The Arts.” Better. Still somewhat vague though and a smidge delicate sounding, not very manly. Trouble was, none of these credentials – with all the years of hard work they entail – came anywhere close to matching the tried and tested power of those three magic words, “I’m a fireman.” Undeterred however, I ploughed on and discovered there was such a thing as a Masters degree. 'Master' eh? Now we’re talking. Back to the drawing board (again, mirror.)
“Hey there, I’m a Master of Science.” Much more like it. That suggests unparalleled genius – we’re talking science fiction territory – somebody with the potential to build robots, give superpowers, harness the use of time travel even. Chicks dig time travel. It’s a lot to live up to mind. The genius act is a tough one to sustain for any length of time. If we’re out in a pub for example, one trip to the quiz machine and I’m scuppered. Next! “Sup? I’m a Master of The Arts.” Excellent. No qualms about manliness there, if anything the ambiguity is a plus. If anyone asks which arts, I can choose between ‘Ancient’ to make me sound like a Wizard, or ‘Deadly’ to give the impression of a Ninja. Unfortunately this option wasn’t without it’s pitfalls either. All it would take on an evening out in a bar, is for one pissed up man mountain to hear of my rumoured abilities, get a bit competitive and bam, that’s me dead in the water...or more accurately, the bar.
It was no good. I had gotten close, but nothing seemed to impress adequately. I was all set to give up and head for the costume shop to book the helmet and hose ensemble (leave it!) when it hit me. He-Man. More specifically He-Man: Masters of The Universe. It was perfect. You tell someone you’re a Master of The Universe they’re too busy being struck dumb with awe or swooning to ask questions. We had a winner. A little bit of research and I’d be setting off on the academic glory trail. Except, annoyingly, that’s when the trail went cold. Couldn’t find it anywhere. Master of Science: five years, Master of Arts: roughly the same, but no Masters of The Universe. Strange. Adam Grayskull must’ve got it from somewhere. Maybe it was an Open University thing. Nope, no sign of it in their prospectus either. Then, gradually, I began to realise the sad reality of the matter. It wasn’t just Adam Grayskull, was it? It was Prince Adam of Grayskull. Oh I see. It’s like that is it? Something only open to the privileged few no doubt. One big boys club. Not so much ‘I HAVE THE POWEEEER’ as ‘MY DADDY HAD THE MONEEEEY’ eh He-Man? Clearly everyone was so dazzled by the giant silver sword on his back, they neglected to notice the giant silver spoon in his mouth. Bloody typical.
Well if that’s still the state of our education system in this day and age then you know what? You can keep it. Besides if you thought those gowns looked slightly ridiculous, imagine having to graduate in this: