Book Review: Bad Behaviour, Rebecca Starford

bad-behaviourGoodreads Blurb:

It should have been a time of acquiring confidence, building self respect and independence, of fostering a connection with the natural world through long hikes…

A gripping, compulsively readable memoir of bullying at an elite country boarding school.

 

 

 

 

My Thoughts:

Reading Bad Behaviour off the back of The Golden Child was either an interesting coincidence or just not a very well thought out decision on my part. I do not regret reading this memoir, more than that, I am so glad I did, but I feel there is a certain waiting time that I should have taken before reading a book of such a similar strain. The more I think about it now however, the more I come to realise that whenever I read it, I would still be just as shaken.

In writing Bad Behaviour, Rebecca Starford has written something which is incredibly, but beautifully raw. She paints a brutal picture of the pack mentality which can develop within large groups of school girls and how that can affect the victims of the resulting bullying. Her year spent in a Victorian boarding school not only brought out a side of herself which she never thought she had, but also left her scarred.

For me, this memoir left a much deeper impression than I could ever have expected. The scenes and actions of the girls a reminder of the first couple of years at my own all girls’ high school. Though for me and my year of girls the bullying never got as bad, it was all still was painfully familiar, and not just the group dynamic but the people as well. Despite this, it was written in such a way that even though the events recorded were true enough, to me they felt almost surreal. So that in finishing this book I was left with the feeling of waking up from a bad dream.

Reading the breakdown of the relationship between Rebecca and her mother however was what most struck a chord with me. It is something which I found to be the most heartbreaking to read. Lastly Rebecca Starford’s memoir is poignant, deep, and a real insight into the turmoil which teens experience and work through at this age. Beautifully written, this memoir something which I am sure will stay with me for quite a while.

Ficlet: ‘Carry it On’

For a different subject from the last posts we had to write 300 word pieces based on different prompts. Another we wrote was a ‘Carry it On’ story based on one of two scenes from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The section I chose is below:

“I trembled, and my heart failed within me; when, on looking up, I saw, by the light of the moon, the daemon at the casement. A ghastly grin wrinkled his lips as he gazed on me, where I sat fulfilling the task which he had allotted to me. Yes, he had followed me in my travels; he had loitered in forests, hid himself in caves, or taken refuge in wide and desert heaths; and he now came to mark my progress, and claim the fulfilment of my promise.

As I looked on him, his countenance expressed the utmost extent of malice and treachery. I thought with a sensation of madness on my promise of creating another like to him, and trembling with passion, tore to pieces the thing on which I was engaged. The wretch saw me destroy the creature on whose future existence he depended for happiness, and, with a howl of devilish despair and revenge, withdrew”.
      Frankenstein, Mary Shelly pg. 166.

I watched him as he worked, such concentration, such precision. In that moment, I wasn’t just watching Her creation, I was watching mine too. Then why, why do I not feel that way? There was no humanity in his vision. I had to learn that. He gave me life but only a half-life: enough to survive, but not enough to live.

Frankenstein paused mid-stitch, as if thinking, brows knitted. That was when he looked up.

His gaze was laced with disgust. Cold eyes staring not just at me, but through me. Pursed lips turned downwards in an ugly frown. I couldn’t pull my eyes away from such loathing.

Why do you look this way at me? Lips of judgement. Eyes of hatred. You created Me. You are creating Her.

The answer was clear within moments. I watched in horror as He started tearing her apart. All that intricacy. All those details. All that time. So quickly erased. Gone.

Then all of a sudden. Pain. Pain in the form of pure, unbridled anger. It flared within me uncontrollably as Frankenstein tore Her apart. He destroyed Her with a viciousness only a monster could hold. Within seconds all hope of acceptance and love was gone, and it was all because of him.

I crashed through the door, its small glass pane shattered on impact with the ground. His head snapped up, staring at me with a look of terror.

So this, I thought to myself, this is what it is to be human? The strongest, most overpowering emotion: hatred.

So in letting instinct take control I had discovered the essence of my humanity, and just as quickly as I’d found it, I knew I’d lost my desire to be human. So, without regret, I destroyed it.

Frankenstien fell as easily as if he were a rag doll, blood pooling around his wound.

Ficlet: ‘Up-Side Down Narrative’

For a different subject from the last posts we had to write 300 word pieces based on different prompts. The first was to write one of our favourite childhood stories as an ‘Up-Side Down’ narrative. This meant that we had to take any aspect of it and change it so it was the opposite to the original. I chose Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll to change.

I’m sure you’ve heard the story of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’, you have probably also heard that I inspired the story a family friend wrote. This is partially true. Yes, he did write it, but I told him the story you all know so well, I spun it from perfectly ordinary happenings to keep him from bothering me further.

You won’t be surprised I still fell down that damn rabbit hole. I remember, I ruined my dress. That little white rabbit definitely did NOT speak and the pocket watch – one of my fathers’ I think – was tangled around one of its legs. That’s why I chased the thing; father in one of his moods is never good.

Anyway, down I fell and hit my head and that is where the similarities stop.

There was a glass of milk and a slice of very dry cake which I tasted and decided it was not to my liking. There was no growing in any direction and absolutely no tears. They would have been helpful though seeing as they would have saved me the walk.

Along the way I came across a group having tea at a very long table, they were singing the most horrendously out of tune version of that rhyme about the stars. The dormouse was somehow asleep despite the noise, it quite surprised me. The hatter, the hare, and the dormouse definitely had no idea how to host a tea party, and they most certainly were not mad. I moved on from there as quickly as possible, their singing irking me all the way.

The Cheshire Cat wasn’t grinning at all, in truth, it glared at me, it’s piercing gaze followed me all through the forest. It was a short time later when I came to twin girls rudely blocking my path. Infuriatingly they talked in unison, and what wias worse, they harmonised in their rhymes. I cannot stand rhyme

The cards were chess pieces, and they were doing anything but painting the roses red. Reading, sleeping, laughing – you name it. This was because the Queen of Diamonds was so sickeningly polite!

Ficlet: Sports Report

Last uni semester our writing class was tasked with putting together a folio of writing tasks based off a series of prompts, a different one for each week. The prompt for this week was to write a 200 word sports report for any ‘backyard sport’ you played in your childhood.

If you thought that the game of Spotlight was a fun and somewhat safe game…think again! On Friday night the Lindfield Scout Group were playing an innocent game of Spotlight on the oval at one of their late night Scout meetings when the friendly game turned foul. For those who don’t really know the game, when Scouts play Spotlight you have a number of people who are ‘in’ who all have torches and the aim is to find the rest of the people playing. When found the person then has to walk to the side of the field and stay ‘out’ until the next round. Eye witnesses say that in this particular game, Krieger (who was ‘in’ at the time) crashed into Rodgers who was making her way to the side of the oval as she was already out. Though there was apparently no ill intent, the angle and force in which Krieger crushed her, caused Rodgers to break her leg. Reports say both bones in the leg were broken along with making a deep crack in the growth plate. Rodgers will be out of action for the next 8 weeks. She acknowledges that the accident was not Krieger’s fault.

Ficlet: Weather Report

Last uni semester our writing class was tasked with putting together a folio of writing tasks based off a series of prompts, a different one for each week. This prompt was to rewrite a weather report they gave us into any genre we chose, I chose to write 200 words of a comedians speech.

Look here, there’s something which really frustrates me about science in Australia, and it’s not the fact that they are telling us the world is doomed, because it most certainly is doomed, it is the lack of belief Australia has in that fact. No, seriously. I was talking to a Sciencey friend the other day – yes that’s what I call her – I’m Comedy, and she’s Sciencey, together we make the state of our climate: apparently an absolute joke.

Seasonal temperatures are steadily rising and look at us…most of us are sitting around laughing.

I kid you not! I was walking from the station to do this show and I had to take off my coat because I was too hot…it’s August!

When I asked my Sciencey friend about this she says to me, ‘there is to be a shift in weather conditions to something a lot warmer than the normal, and it doesn’t seem to want to stop.’

‘What even is normal?’ I ask, and from the perspective of this scienceless mind, what would you expect? You know what she replied?

‘Look at these two south eastern Australia temperature maps, they’ll explain everything.’

Did I mention I failed high school science?

Ficlet: Twist Story

Last uni semester our writing class was tasked with putting together a folio of writing tasks based off a series of prompts, a different one for each week. This prompt was to write a 200 word twist story featuring a pen.

As soon as I pushed open the door I knew something wasn’t right. Though the room was how I’d left it that morning – curtains drawn, lights off – the eerie glow of the laptop illuminated Brea’s distraught expression.

Flicking on the bedside lamp I sank onto the tissue strewn bed. “What is it Brea?”

The brunette sniffed, and wiping more tears from her eyes she took a deep breath. “She’s gone!” Another sob left Brea’s lips as a fresh wave of tears rolled down her cheeks.

“Wait, what?” I frowned. Putting a comforting hand on her arm I spoke again. “Who’s gone?”

“She k- killed her! I can’t-” sniff, “believe-” sniff, “she killed her!”

“Who killed who?” I battled to keep the frustration from my tone.

“A knife, blood…so much blood! I loved her! She didn’t deserve any of this! I read thirty something chapters for this to happen! Who let her pick up that pen and write fanfiction anyway?”

As realisation dawned on me and I had to resist the strange urge to laugh.

Brea stared at me with something akin to determination as she aggressively wiped the last of her tears from her cheeks. “She needs to be stopped.”

Ficlet: Monologue

Last uni semester our writing class was tasked with putting together a folio of writing tasks based off a series of prompts, a different one for each week. Another prompt was to write a 200 word monologue on any topic we chose and from any character’s point of view.

Do you ever just want to scream? Scream so loud because there is no way things like this can still be happening in films but they do. Again, and again, and again. The same old story. The boy saves the day. The boy gets the girl. How about this: the girl saves the day, or the girl gets the girl, or better yet…there is no side love story at all. Just women kicking ass and saving the day without needing tight leather suits or sad backstories. For once can the token lesbian character in the film series or television show not be built up in an awesome story, as an awesome character only to be killed off for affect? For once can the main female character not die in her lover’s arms for no reason other than to further the main male’s development and move the plot along? Give us powerful females, black females, lesbians, trans girls, large females, strong females, anything but these women who exist solely to benefit the male characters in the story. We are better than that. Women have more to offer than just a supporting role in a story which has been told so many times before. We do.