8/17/2005
 

People are always impressed when they find that I’m writing a book. ‘Wow,’ they say in awe, ‘that’s impressive’ and I nod, not because I’m marvelling in my own dedication, but because it’s easier than telling them about the badges.

Some kids have a drink problem; others are into pot or huffing. My addiction was for Teacher’s Association Science Badges.

The process went like this. One selected a topic (from astronomy to zoology) and was given a list of tasks on a sheet of A4. Each task had a rating from 1 – 3 points. Once you tallied up 15 points, you qualified for the badge.

Some of the tasks were tricky:
(Conservation) "Make a solar cooker” 3 points
Others were not:
(Optics) "Draw a colour triangle and write a poem or song about light" 1 point
Some were just weird:
(Large Animals) “Trial three brands of cat food" 2 points
While a few were impossible:
(Geology) "Find out why dinosaurs became extinct” 1 point


When completed, the research was checked and $5 collected to pay for the badge. A month later it arrived - cold, heavy and shining like a nugget of gold to be awarded in a makeshift ceremony at the end of Science class.

Completing a science badge was supposed to be quite an achievement, the high school equivalent of say, a Nobel Prize. At the beginning of the year Mr Shaffer - the Science teacher renowned for large sweat rings under his armpits - gravely announced that we should attempt to earn just one of these coveted badges per term.

I’ve always liked a challenge.

I can’t remember when I decided to do them all. I liked research and libraries, and I hadn’t quite slotted into a social group - but more importantly I’ve always had fanatical commitment levels.

When I was nine, Mr Saunders asked me to create Christmas decorations for the classroom, so I made life-size images of Santa Claus, Mrs Claus, Elves, and Reindeer - the works. They were so popular I began to do them on commission for my classmates earning a bit of pocket money in the process. I published my first newspaper when I was ten and wrote and directed my first play the same year which was performed in front of Assembly. I was editor of my Secondary School paper when I was 12 (which I ostentatiously called The Stentorian), I was Student Rep at 16, Head Prefect at 17, I played badminton, soccer, tennis and went to the Model United Nations - so yes, I was that kid. In hindsight, it wasn’t simply a case of repressed homosexual over-achieving; I genuinely liked having fingers in pies.

I’m not sure how I paid for all the badges. I have a hunch I may have sold some earlier science badge research to fellow classmates just so I could afford a new one. Mr Shaffer would always look exasperated when I approached with my folder.
‘Which one is it today?’ he’d sigh.
‘Ornotholgy,’ I’d reply, ‘and um, horticulture. And Chemical and Process Engineering.’
‘Any more?’ he’d ask sarcastically.
‘Oh - and Marine Biology.’

After achieving all 22 science badges I once decided to wear them all to school. Don’t ask me why. I think there was a certain kitsch factor in them. All I know is that my green wool jersey was never the same again.

So writing a mere novel is nothing when you compare it to my industrious youth. Once you’ve found out why dinosaurs became extinct (thesis now quoted by the British Science Council) and written a pop song about neon light, 80,000 words don’t seem so tough. Heck, if there was a science badge in authoring I’d probably have three by now.
 

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sites what I write on:
londonist

sites what I wrote on:
über: I haven't been completely honest
somewhat.org: on the up

blogs:

christopher
elizabeth

boys:

tlc
homorobotic
sex, lies & videotape
diamond geezer
vivid blurry
raw youth
secret simon
learn swedish
the rob log
why god why
a beautiful revolution

girls:

dooce
afrochic
belle de jour
pound
jems web
lindsayism

pulse:

timmy ray
link bunnies
link machine go

fantastic blogs:

a light fantastic
a chair fantastic
a rug fantastic
a kitchen fantastic
a bed fantastic
a clock fantastic

tools:

life hacker
i hate work
hi-gloss film production



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