Winning Monologues 2009 (Archive)
In 2009 Hampshire ran a monologue competition for young people in Years 10-13. They were asked to write engaging stories, and powerfully expressed opinions on any aspect of bullying, ready for Anti-bullying Week. The three winning entries were performed at a conference for schools on bullying on 16 October 2009 and were widely distributed, including to all schools in Hampshire.
These monologues are fictional.
I never had many friends. I was always the loner kid, sitting in the corner, not talking or even looking at anyone, you know? The one with the glasses, the braces, the ‘uncool’ shoes; the classic victim. For as long as I could remember I’d been picked on. Whether it was just a snide comment across the classroom, or someone nicking my books, or pushing me over ‘by accident’, there was always something. The awful thing was, nobody seemed to care. The teachers chose not to see it, and my parents just told me to deal with it; “just ignore them” was one of their favourite lines.
So I built up a wall. I learnt to keep out of peoples’ way, and just do what they told me to do. I never drew attention to myself in lessons; I didn’t even bother to answer questions, because it wasn’t worth the whispered remarks that came afterwards. Even though I nearly always knew the answer, I pretended that I was dumb, that I didn’t know anything. My teachers despaired of me, I think; after all, wouldn’t you?
So when I started secondary school, I saw it as an opportunity to start afresh. No one knew me, I could be a different person, and maybe people wouldn’t be so mean. And at first, it worked. I had a group of friends, which was a novelty for me, seeing as it had never happened before, and I made more of an effort in lessons. My parents didn’t mind that I was going out every night to hang out in the park or by the river; they were just relieved that I wasn’t still a loner. I actually spoke to them at home, told them about my day; they were amazed.
Over the next few months, my popularity increased. I joined a drama group, which boosted my confidence, and I started to go and talk to people, instead of them coming to me. Suddenly, I found myself in the middle of a large group of friends, and it was fascinating to me that these people actually wanted to be around me, to be my friend, to talk to me; and this time, they said nice things, not insults and threats. I couldn’t believe that I’d gone from a quiet little mouse to this extroverted, happy girl, and neither could my parents. I never told any of my new friends about the bullying at my primary school. I guess I thought that if I told them, they might change their opinions of me and maybe think that I wasn’t so cool after all. So it was a secret, and I tried to push it to the back of my mind.
About half way through my first year at secondary school, a girl started at our school. When we were told in assembly, the name rang a bell in my memory, but I couldn’t put a face to the name. But as soon as she walked into our class, I knew who she was. I must have done a double take or something, because my best friend sitting next to me immediately asked me what was wrong. She was a girl from my primary school, the leader of the nastiness, Little Miss Spite herself. She still had the same cocky air, the same arrogant persona; in truth, she was just as much of a cow as she had been then. I don’t think she recognised me; at least she didn’t show it – after all, the glasses had gone and I was sitting with loads of my friends, not in my old haunt in the corner.
All through that day I was miserable, counting down the minutes until she realised who I was and the taunting, teasing remarks would start again. But they didn’t come. For about a week she did nothing, she didn’t even speak to me; I was stupid enough to think that maybe she had forgotten.
But I was wrong. About a week after she started, I started to get these texts, saying horrible, cruel things; worse than they’d been before. I knew it was her straight away, but she never said her name, so I couldn’t prove it. Every night without fail, she’d sent a torrent of hateful things, telling me that I was useless, worthless, and that people were only my friend because they wanted to feel better about themselves. I started to dread that beep of my phone, but it became like an obsession; although I knew what she said would hurt me, I had to read the texts. If I didn’t, it would be like admitting that she’d broken me.
My friends didn’t know. I didn’t tell them. They knew something was wrong but they had the sense not to pry; if they had I think I would have snapped. My parents didn’t notice, it was a busy time at work and they were too wrapped up in their own lives. Their philosophy was “she’s twelve; she can take care of herself”. I became more and more introverted, more closed off, and slowly my school work started to suffer. It was like being back at primary school all over again.
Luckily, the teachers at my secondary school wouldn’t let it slip so easily. They phoned home and told my parents they thought something was wrong. My parents sat me down and wouldn’t let me leave until I told them what was going on. I didn’t want to, it was like admitting defeat, but finally I showed them the texts. They were horrified. I didn’t want to contact the school, I didn’t want to do anything about it, but they did, and I realise now that it was for my own good. The school sorted it all out; she’s gone from my life now, and I don’t have to speak to her ever again.
My friends were shocked when they found out what had been going on. They couldn’t believe I hadn’t told them about it before. What surprised me the most was that they didn’t think I was weak or stupid, and they didn’t change their minds about me; in fact, it made our friendships stronger, because I felt more open with them, and I wasn’t trying to be someone I’m not.
I think I would have dealt with it better if I’d told my friends; maybe I wouldn’t have believed what she was saying so much, and then my school work wouldn’t have suffered so much. But it’s in the past now, and I try not to dwell on it. My life has moved on.
(Stage is empty apart from a chair. James walks on and stands beside the chair, but does not sit down. He seems to have trouble starting. The first sentence almost seems like a mistake.)
I’m not a bully.
I met Reece Barker way back in year seven. He came late to the year; I remember the door flying back one tutor time to reveal him standing there, arms folded, a confident sneer on his face, his tie hanging loosely about his neck. I remember being awed by his rebellion: none of us were brave enough to challenge the teachers with scruffy uniforms yet. In fact, I think the sight of him shocked even Mrs. Langly, our tutor, because she didn’t even get up to greet him. Instead, she looks around at the class, asks for someone to ‘look after’ Reece. No one moves. And so, out of sheer luck, her eyes fall on me.
(Adopts high-pitched female voice.)
“James,” she says brightly. “Reece can sit with you.”
Reece swaggers over, throws himself into the empty seat beside mine. His fingernails are filled with dirt and when he smiled one side of his mouth goes up higher than the other.
“I’m Reece,” he says to me.
And just like that, I’m his new best friend. No one else wanted to go near him, or maybe he didn’t want anyone else. Even back then, he was always the leader. He’d say, ‘field’ and we’d tramp to the other side of the school and sit on the grass while he threw rubbish down the hill. He’d say, ‘paper’ and I’d find myself scrambling to find some, or tearing sheets from my book. Power seemed to just flow from him, undeniable.
(He has been getting faster throughout this paragraph, but then stops suddenly and then speaks slowly again.)
It wasn’t long ago, however, that Reece changed tack. Suddenly, I was no longer his half-servant, half-follower friend; I was his ‘mate.’ I don’t know when exactly it happened, but I remember how suddenly it wasn’t Reece in detention for cheeking the teacher anymore – it was me too.
He was the one who told me to get Facebook. I did it simply because he asked me to. Once I got on there, I got a surprise; Reece already had half the class on his friends list. I don’t know how he did it – no one ever spoke to us these days unless they had to – and yet here he was with so many people already. As soon as I accepted his friend request he sent me a message.
‘Want to play a game?’
I knew at once that it was a test. His profile picture leered at me, as if watching to see if I made the right decision. I didn’t want to look like an idiot. And, whether I liked it or not, I was a little scared of Reece. I paused only a moment longer before emailing back, ‘Sure.’ It didn’t start until a few days later, but it began with a bang. I received an ‘I hate Joe Mart’ email that Reece was apparently sending around for everyone to sign. I knew Joe from school. He was one of the quieter boys with braces that gave him a lisp. Reece had started it. And so I signed
(Looks away, and then rubs his hands together worriedly.)
It was his name on the sender tab anyway, not mine. And somewhere inside, I liked the feeling it gave me. I was powerful. Strong. Untouchable... and even Joe didn’t seem to care; at school he was just the same old guy he had always been. It surprised me to see that others from school had already signed. But then, when a new status update came up on Joe’s profile reading... well, maybe I shouldn’t tell you what it read... anyway, when that happened I started to get it.
“Was that you?” I asked Reece the next day. “On Facebook last night?”
He shot me a grin. “Was what me?”
I watched him carefully that day. In IT, he spent most of the lesson wandering around the classroom for no real reason. I understood straight away – everyone was logging onto Facebook to email each other when Sir wasn’t looking, and Reece was watching them. A glance here, a glance there... for the people who typed slower than OAPs it was almost too easy.
He was using their passwords to hack into their accounts.
Reece knew exactly how to play it. As we left school that day, he shoved a scrap of paper into my hand.
“Your turn,” he hissed.
I opened it as he walked off. The password for Sandra Gibson’s account. He wanted me to hack in. I knew at once that I couldn’t do it. I looked up. He was watching me from the other side of the road. He shot me a smile that didn’t reach his eyes, and then turned away and walked off.
(Sits down on the chair.)
I’m not a bully. I don’t do that to people. (Pause.) When I wrote that stuff on her account, I didn’t mean it. It was just... I didn’t know... (Sighs heavily.) I don’t know why I did it. All I know is that I was the one at the keyboard, but Reece’s words were coming out on the page. (Pause.) I’m not a bully. But over the next few days, I felt like I was turning into Reece’s twin. Every day he would hand me another password, his eyes glittering, and I would smile back. Sometimes it felt bad. But mostly it was... fun. I liked how it lifted me up above everyone else. How I became the leader, if only for a little bit. (Pause.) And I didn’t want to think about what would happen to me if I didn’t do it.
The next game was ‘Ugliest Girl in the School’ awards. I rated Joanna as the ugliest, and of course Reece voted for everyone as everyone. He let Joanna win. He sent around an email: ‘Joanna Freely is officially the ugliest girl in the school.’ It was only a few days from Easter and so Reece superimposed Joanna’s face onto a chicken’s body and sent that around too.
(Grins, and then the smile fades.)
I saw Joanna crying in the canteen the next day. I was shocked: no one had ever reacted like this before.
“What kind of person would do that?” she was sobbing to her friend, her mascara running all over her cheeks.
I keep telling myself that I’m not a bully. But I don’t know what to think anymore. When I told Reece, he just laughed and said, ‘Bet she looked even uglier, right?’Maybe it was the way he said it that pushed me over the edge, or maybe it was the memory of my vote on Facebook. Either way, I told him I wasn’t going to do it anymore.
(Stops, as if stunned at his own words. No trace of satisfaction in his voice as he continues.)
You should have seen his face. He was so angry. I don’t think he’d ever heard me say no before. (Small smile.) When I logged onto Facebook tonight, a message was waiting for me. I hesitated, and then opened it. The picture hit me like a slap in the face. It was a photograph of a dead bird, covered in maggots and flies and... I couldn’t look at it any longer. My eyes slid down to the writing below it.
I didn’t need to look at the sender to know who had done it.
(Pauses, and then looks at the audience.)
I’m not a bully. I’m not... but I don’t know what I am anymore.
He does it because he loves me;he’s just trying to toughen me up, because that's what Dads are supposed to do. Look out for you, guide you and most of all; love you. So of course I deserve everything I get - I’d rather know if I was being an embarrassment and then continue to make a fool of myself.
I must look so weak and pathetic - an easy target for bullies.
Or as Dad says 'I'm just askin' for it'.
So when he hits me he's just looking out for me and when he slaps me he’s really saying I love you - people need to realise that.
People can often misinterpret messages and when I say ‘messages,’ I mean the bruises - they're only there because I’ve put on weight and have started looking disgusting - or made myself look like a loser by wearing ugly glasses.
If he didn’t tell me who would? He’s doing me a favour…just like I’m doing others a favour by pointing out their flaws to them.
Text messages, instant messages on facebook, myspace, bebo, msn, all these things have good intentions behind them and should be received gratefully
It's like I'm the only one who's taking on board what they're being told for crying out loud! So when I pick on year 7's I'm just helping them along y'know, passing on the damn message. Don't have a stupid rucksack, do not be fat, try not to look like a geek with pathetic glasses, don't get above yourself and think you're more important than anyone else, oh and best thing to do - don't annoy me!
If everyone followed these rules life would be good for everyone - but not everyone does as they're told so.
Of course I can't focus on all ‘troublemakers’ face to face, all at once - it's just not practical. Somy way to guide so many who are in need is simply by using the internet. Its so effective and making threats to a screen is much more intrusive than face to face, simply because its their home that I’ve ‘invaded’ …. plus I can do it to several people at once.
Ooo I do believe I’m due on msn in afew minutes. Hopefully there will be a few people online who I can let my feelings be unleashed upon. They need to toughen up and I need a release - it's fair - don't tell me it's not. Some people are just 'askin for it' - people like Gregory Burnes, he is such a soppy little mummies boy, he needs to realise she won't always be around to fight his battles,she might just leave him like mine did- and thatif she doeshe won't have anyone to run to.Oh dear, my heart bleeds.
Hopefully Greg will be online tonight - I call him Greg because it sounds so much better than Gregory - urgh don't make me sick. I think that's what first drew me to him - that name - it just caught my attention, but then I saw him and his fate was set in stone. Plus the glasses - are you having a laugh? - I wouldn't walk around in those if you paid me – and the oversized superhero rucksack and geeky braces top off the look.
I started making eye contact with him and tripping him in corridors - made it clear I don't like his attitude. Then one day, I stopped and looked him in the eyes, and asked him for his details - i.e. hisaddress,mobile number, email address, msn addy and so on. I then told him thatif any of these were false I would soon find out. I followed him home after school at a reasonable distance and checked that he went to the same house he'd told me just a few hours earlier. Sure enough he did - hah -hehad no idea what he'd just signed up too.
Then I sent him a text telling him to get online immediately - and that I was waiting. So he logs on and we have a long LONG chat - it’s pretty much all me talking - IN CAPITALS- OBVIOUSLY - because I read somewhere it impliesthat you're shouting.It's allgood - he's quaking in his boots & I'm in control. BINGO!
After this I have to be careful, because some snoots get the idea into their heads about telling their parents. It doesn’t normally work, but once one kid was so frightened they stopped eating and that was slightly concerning. It was a bit pathetic to be frank - I’m here to help not make your situation even worse your poor poor sap.Anyhow this girl Georgiana - she became really thin and fainted one day, it all came out in hospital and well the police got involved. They saw the Msn counselling she'd been getting from me, plus the texts..... And the photos ..... and the voice messages ..... and the times I wanted her to meet me ..... and well basically they got the totally wrong impression or message!
The police just turned up one day - totally out of the blue - and said they needed to speak to me. So this woman and bloke all dressed up in uniformjust swagger into my house regardless of whether I wanted them there or not and seated themselves on the sofa.Apparently the school had explained the situation to them and they wanted to hear my version of events. I just told them I thoughtGeorgie (Ugh)was a pathetic sap that needed toughening up - (not the right thing to say) - because they then told me that assault, harassment and intimidation are offences whatever the age of the perpetrator or victim. (By this point I was slightly concerned as to where this was leading to...) The women or whoever she was tells me that if I was ever caught committing the offence of intimidation, harassmentor any other form of bullying again, the case would be officially investigated. However because I'm under 16 (by 2 years - phew!) the final report would be sent to the Children’s Hearing, where it will be decided whether the case should be taken further. Sometimes a hearing can be called just to discuss the welfare of a victim of bullying and that it would be very likely in Georgiana’s case ( but what the hell is wrong with these people - I'm not a bully and I’m trying to help!!!). The officers also wanted to speak to my dad –which was the scariest thing they said….
Dad walked in at 6:30 precisely and his face just said it all. I went to my room and just waited. Waited for all hell to break lose.. ..I had no idea how dad would react, the waiting was hideous…,I didn't dare open the door because I didn't want to know what was behind it. I forgot I hadn't eaten - completely - why would I want to eat now? I just kind of fell asleep and then it was morning. I got dressed for school as usual - dad was nowhere to be seen, butI wasn't going to check on him because it might just trigger .... something. So I crept around like I was walking on broken glass.
He hasn’t spoken to me since…well he’s told me to tidy up and answer the door to his mates and stuff, but not actually spoken to me…I think its because he’s happy with me. Its only when he’s unhappy with me that he ‘talks’ to me. …
So this my life, this is me, a good Samaritan who is actually due on msn right now.(Look at watch)
(I get my laptop out )
Poor Poor Gregory , oh well he'll get over it. We're on webcam you see and I just made a threat - he's crying now - bless. I love it when they cry, Oh and Annette is online to, (typing but saying it out loud) "Hello Fatty" (Back with Audience)
You see Annette has afew weight issues so I'm trying to help her manage her weight - its working so far though - she’s very thin now - we just need to make sure we don't get a repeat of before. I've just got to be careful I guess.
It's hard when you're trying to help people and they throw it back in your face, but hey I’m trudging on. Never give up!My sole aim is to make my dad proud.
(goes back to typing as lights fade)