Top marks for sign of the times


<em>Illustration: Simon Letch</em>Illustration: Simon Letch

WALKING past a bus shelter advertisement for toothpaste at the weekend, I made a remark to a friend about some graffiti defacing the model’s sparkling teeth. It said: ”Free Charles Manson.”

“Some little brat wrote that,” I scoffed. “Possibly one of those Ritalin-popping, iPod-using, fast-food-ingesting, sociopaths-in-training who thinks it’s cool to glorify a half-crazy murderer.”

My friend, who happens to teach at high school, examined the graffiti for a moment. 

“I think you’re wrong,” he said.

When asked to explain, the year seven teacher put up a pretty convincing argument.

His first point was the handwriting. “It’s neat,” he said. “And the rounded ‘a’ in Manson demonstrates a fairly good grasp of cursive writing.”

He explained that at the school where he taught, reliance on keyboards had obliterated the average student’s ability to write in anything beyond an illegible scrawl he called ”pen vomit”.

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