Wednesday 3 March, 2010:
Project this afternoon. I send off the extras who are just trying to hang out in my class – it’s not really that I don’t want them there, but it isn’t the kind of class where I can afford to be kickback. I only make exceptions for a few people who I know won’t disturb the ‘flow’.
Dimario asks me, “Miss, do you think Sir C could come in one day – as a guest artist?”
“I dunno,” I tell him. “I’d like that, I really would. But I don’t know if he’ll be allowed to.”
“Couldn’t we just sneak him in?” Dimario says.
“Maybe. But only if he’s not actually banned from the school grounds or anything – is he?”
“I don’t think so,” Dimario says. “I don’t think anything like that happened. He’s just not allowed to come back to school.”
“Well, maybe, then… do you think he’d want to come in?”
“Yup,” says Dimario, with alacrity.
“Who – Sir C?” say some of the younger boys, looking interested. The year 10’s who have been saying, plaintively, “I can’t even draw… I only picked this class cos my friends are doing it… it’s hot… can I go outside?”
“No you can’t.”
“I’m bored cos I’m no good at bombing – I don’t know what to do. I’m hot.”
“Come on,” I say, “Come and sit over here and talk to me.”
They come unprotestingly (Libya, Teki), asking me, “Can we go and work out in the block?”
“No, you have to stay here,” I tell them. “But here you go – you can read some of my graffiti books.”
“Cool!” they say, fanning their heads with their sleeves. “Man, we’re soooo hot, your classroom is like the hottest room in the whole school!”
I laugh and tell them, “I’ll get you a drink from upstairs – but you have to share, ok?”
“Have you got a drink, Miss?” they ask. “Is it cold?”
“Yup – it’s in the fridge upstairs. Wait here, don’t go outside while I’m gone, ok?”
They nod and sit very trustingly while I go get my drink for them to share.
“Oh yum! Oh yay!” they say, when they see it.
Noa, from across the room, says, “Oh man – how come you’re getting them drinks – and they’re not even working?” But he says it with a laugh, cos he knows they’re not like his table, who could just do this stuff all day. He comes over and says, “Oh yeah, hook me up with a drink,” and has a gulp from the can.
We’re starting to sort out the sheep from the goats now: I love even the goats! I see Teki look at me curiously, wondering why I don’t get all mad with them. But I feel patient; I want them to see that there are constraints in place, and to some extent we’re restricted, but it’s not all bad – it’s not a meeting of opposing forces.
Later, Riley and Shanice say, “This is cool, Miss – how everyone likes being here and does their work, and no-one’s naughty.”
I put my arm round Riley for a moment, and she smiles.
When I’m in project, I feel like myself again; no stress… and everyone just gets it; everyone else relaxes too. The sheep and the goats. And I’m starting to see the real artists – the real serious artists – coming to the fore. Dimario. Inia and Noa – CP crew. And they’re starting to ally a little bit. The CP boys admire Dimario’s work, and he grudgingly allows that they’ve done some mean designs too. (“But I could wipe them out,” he says, very sotto voce to me. “And Sir C could hard out wipe them out.”)
Only I wish so much Tau was there. I won’t hear a word said against him. Dimario begins to tell me some story: “Cluzo’s all shit Miss, he said to my cousin that –”
But I say, “Nah, nah Dimario.”
The others laugh, and, “But, Miss…” Dimario protests.
“No, Miss nothing – remember this project was all Tau’s idea in the first place – you should thank him!”
Dimario grins, and drops it. And I wish Tau was there, I do and I miss him so much. And still I’m so glad to have Dimario, on my side.