Friday, January 26, 2007

Are people born Evil?

Another crack at the laptop cherry. They keep changing the procedures, I notice, in response to people's comments. The last laptop was won by someone with a blog far more popular than mine. The only consolation I have is that when someone wins, they get taken out of the competition. Given that the last winner had a technorati ranking og about 4500, and mine is something like 333000, there isn't much hope

But I do love a challenge, so here goes...

Are people born Evil?

I was a young lad, full of joy and optimism, no more than 8 years old, when I first encountered the boot of Toby Hancock Jones. He'd joined our school after being excluded elsewhere for tying a lop-eared rabbit by its ears to a fence post and firing carrot sticks from an air rifle at a target painted on its belly. The rabbit survived this incident, and was rehoused with a married couple who doted on it. Two years later the 93 year old husband slipped on the lop-eared rabbits ears, fell over and split his head open on the stone floor of the couple's cottage. His 25 year old wife of just three years seemed initially distraught, until Police discovered the rabbits ears had been glued to the floor and greased on top to make them extra slippery. It was a near perfect crime. The papers asked the very same question about the nature of evil when she was sent down for life.

But I digress.

Toby walked in to our school as if he was eyeing up the place for an armed robbery. He was of average height and build, and kept his jumper sleeves rolled up to display biro-tatoos of a skull and crossbones. The teacher asked him to roll down his sleeves only once. He gave her such a lairy stare that the poor woman (on supply after 3 years off with stress) never spoke to him again in the four months she remained with as our form teacher.

He seemed to take an instant dislike to me, despite my attempts at friendship. My mother was keen for me to make friends, as I was lagging behind my peers on a number of fronts at the time. So I offered him some of my lunch on his first day. He took the banana sandwhich with a smile. But just seconds after he started chewing, he spat the whole lot back at me.

'What was that, you four-eyed moron?' he cried, wiping bits of banana off his face.

I could taste something on my lips. It was a bit of chewed up banana. I gingerly stuck out my tongue to taste it - eager, on the one hand to make amends and avoid losing my new friend to a misunderstanding, but, at the same time, slighty apprehensive about the coldsore on Toby's lips.

'Er, I think it's just banana, Toby' I said, my unbroken voice warbling slightly.

'Yeah Crumble. You know what happened to the last person who tried to feed me bananas?'

'Er, no.'

'They got mashed up, see'


'You thick or something Crumble? I said mashed, as in mashed banana'

'I've got some crisps', I said, trying to smile even as the tears welled up behind my eyes.

Toby stood up, rolling up his sleeves so I could get a good view of his skull-and-crossbones. 'Gimme the rest of your lunch money, Breadcrumb, or I'll tell the teacher you tried to poison me.'

I was utterly confused. No one had ever bullied me before, and I wasn't sure what was going on. I had no idea that I had poisoned him, and could only think that the young boy had a rare banana allergy. I didn't quite understand why he was so angry, but then remembered my grandmother getting very angry once when I did actually poison her (Accidentally of course,and she did make a near-full recovery in due time. Was it my fault that she'd decanted some brass-cleaning fluid into a brown-sauce bottle?).

'Are you sick?' I asked him, fumbling in my pocket for some loose change.

Toby pulled me right up to his face, paused for dramatic effect, then snarled 'What you mean, Breadhead?'

'I...I...just thought...'

'Don't think Crumb. Don't do anything to upset me or I'll mash you so hard you'll be worse off than a banana under bulldozer. Got it?'

'Er, ok. Here's 50p. I think you should use to get some medi...'


I spun round as he let his punch go, half propelling myself away, half pushed by the force of his fist in my eye-socket. The grass on which we had been sitting offered at least soft ground for me to crumple on as he repeatedly kicked me in the shins and told me that he'd string me up by my flappy ears and shoot me with an airgun loaded with nuclear bombs if I told the teacher.

That night I cried when my grandmother asked me what had happened. She tried to comfort me, but I couldn't be consoled. My illusion of childhood had been shattered in a matter of minutes by someone I wanted to call my friend. 'Oh poor, naive young boy, ' she cooed, then after a moments pause raised her voice and in dramatic tones said 'Some people are just born evil, Joseph. Spawn of the Devil, if you ask me. He's out there Joseph, he's out there!'

I thought about what she said for a minute, but couldn't work it out. You see, population genetics was a subject in which I was most interested, even as a child. I had been working my way through a paper on the subject, which laid out very strict laws governing how traits were passed on through different generations. The paper told the story of a monk who drank beer and grew peas, and how he worked out a set of laws about inheritance and the such like.

'Wait here granny!' I said, my energy suddenly renewed. 'If I can work it out, I'll know what to do!' And with that I skipped off to my bedroom to do some calculations.

The next day Toby turned up late to school. He made sure that I caught him looking at me with narrowed eyes when he entered the classroom. I said nothing, of course, and waited until lunchtime before I spoke to him.

'Toby!' I cried, bounding up to him as he was menacing some younger children. He spun round on his heels, squaring up to me as if I wanted to fight.

'Where's my lunchmoney, Breadhead?' he asked.

'Yeah, yeah Toby. Listen. I've got some good news. I did some sums last night and worked something out. You see, my grandma said you are the son of the devil and born evil. But I worked it out, right?.' I looked up at Toby as I finished speaking. His eyes were so narrowed I could barely see his pupils, and his upper lip was starting to curl in what I later learned was his trademark indicator that violence was forthcoming.

'You's like this. If you were born evil then Mendel says either your mother or father was born evil. But your father can't be the devil or he would have horns and a red cape and stuff. So your mother must have passed her evil to you which means she is to blame. See? It's not your fault you're evil, Toby. There's evil in your genes!'


His head connected with mine just on the bridge of my nose and I fell back onto the hard playing-ground surface. My assailant was just about to start kicking me in the shins for the second time in two days, when one of the younger children, presumably startled and bemused by my homophonic statement, started laughing and pointing at Toby's pants. I looked to where the child was pointing and was astonished to see a small banana poking out of Toby's school trousers. Even Toby seemed surprised, and hesitated just long enough for me to pick myself up and move away. A teacher was there moments later, and had hold of the fruit-sporting bully even as he was trying to pull the banana out.

We were both taken to the headmaster's office and forced to explain things. I started talking about a monk who grew peas but the headmaster didn't seem interested. All he really wanted to know was why Toby had been dangling a banana out of the front of his pants. It turned out that the unfortunate boy had stolen said banana from a corner shop that morning on his way to school, and had stuffed it down his pants so he could turn out his pockets if asked. The zip on the pants had needed repairing for some time, and had just given way at the wrong moment.

Toby was sentenced to lines and made to apologise. I took it with good grace. Such good grace, in fact, that the headmaster commented on it.

'Granny told me some people were born evil sir. So he can't help it really.', I responded.

'It's not that people are born evil, Joseph.', said the headmaster. 'It's just that they are born stupid.'

'Is that better than evil?'

'Of course. Now run along and make some friends Joseph.'

I skipped off into the playground, my cares forgotten. Not only had I gained an apology from my tormentor, but I had also learned a new fact. A very important piece of knowledge that I just couldn't keep isolated in my 8 year old brain. And it was good news, which meant that it had to be told. You see, Granny had instilled in me that everyone likes to hear good news. And now I knew that if Toby wasn't born evil, that we could be good friends. Everything's going to be alright, I thought, as I jogged merrily towards my new classmate once again.

Vote for me on Love To Lead Third time lucky? It's up to you my good, good friends!




Nikki said...

I voted for you Dr McC.

Susan S said...

That was brilliant! You got my vote!

Josh said...

Voted! And voted the tool who won on the first week a big fat DON'T LIKE. Hopefully people will soon start to realise you've been writing the best articles from the start.

krkljan said...

Agree with Josh, same here, I voted Don't like for the guy that is destroying the fun about these questions! People put their mind into really thinking about these questions and writing some great articles.
Keep it up!

Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

Nikki - Thanks yet again !

Susan - Ta very much!

Josh - Many thanks! The offending article appears to have been removed!

Krkljan - How many ways can I say thanks in one comment?

Anonymous said...

Random LONDON female lurker:

Found you thru 'love to lead'. Great article. Well written and Interesting blog. I shall return!