The Wimp’s progress by Trevor Plumbly

Systematic selection

As technology continues to herd us into a convenient mass to maintain its influence, let’s spare a thought for the poor sods struggling to survive under the thumb of the ‘wimps’.

These previously insignificant little buggers now rule cyberspace. Such folk were once the dross of the school system; in those days  ‘average’ set the standard for academic achievement, above or below that attracted unhealthy attention. Thus the more active thugs were labelled ‘misfits’ and those unable to fit in either slot were deemed to have a ‘nervous disposition’ i.e. ‘wimpy’. As an ex-wimp I know this stuff: I was handicapped by a pencil-like physique and chronic shyness so I cultivated a native cunning that embraced insignificance. However, I was not a successful wimp; the opposing forces were too demanding to allow me any peace from social hibernation. Teachers would pound me with ‘could do better’, totally unaware that those who actually did better suffered all sorts of crap from the hands of those who didn’t give a toss. So at an early age I learned the value of a multiple personality and developed the acting skills necessary to remain among the harmless.

The undercover years

The system’s aim at my level was to churn out ‘the well-rounded boy’, preferably from a single mould, but human nature sets its own rules and, like water, boys find their own level. Looking back,  the possibility of becoming ‘well rounded’ was totally alien,  overshadowed by the necessity to pass through the system mentally and physically unscathed. The main obstacles to that were the ‘could do betters’ inside school and the anti-education gang in the playground. The trick was to avoid rather than appease. Never be first to answer a question; nobody likes a smart arse, especially the Neanderthals destined for the dole queue. Never make the mistake of coming first at anything. I vividly remember Derek Taylor, a fellow wimp and a walking advert for pimples and National Health glasses, Derek was stupid enough to get an A+ for Maths, which got him a silver star in class, followed by a few punches and a chewing gum shampoo from Billy Harris and Co after the bell rang. He never appeared at school after that and, despite it being common knowledge, no action was ever taken. It was the 1950s’ British education system at its duplicitous best: as long as no-one required hospital treatment, bullying was acceptable as part of the growing process.

The great leap forward

After school, I cast off wimpdom in favour of average, but it didn’t surprise me that, in the 1960s, wimps embraced IT like the Holy Grail. After years of rejection by ‘the lads’ and thinly pasted tolerance from the opposite sex, computerisation must have seemed heaven sent to them, a chance to shine without retribution. The ordinary bloke didn’t get a look in; ladies that secretly lusted over the masculine suddenly yearned for the creative. Sensitive was in and the wimps had it in spades! Too cunning to abuse the new power, they insinuated it into our lives via drip-fed gadgetry and now they own us! Forget Trump and Putin, if one of these little sods decides to jab a few buttons out of spite, we’re all up the creek. I did warn you all of this some years ago, but you were so enamoured of the new toys that you ignored the real threat. In my autumnal years, I can only gaze back regretfully on my fence-sitting days. If only I’d been ‘one of the lads’, with a bit of leeway Billy Harris and I might have kept Tunbridge Wells wimp-free for decades. The little sods have come a long way since my youth, and who the hell knows what they’ll get up to next?

Personalised virus anyone?

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