ARE you stupid? How many times approach to children in their This person would gleefully fill Happiest of days..!
ARE you stupid? How many times have we been asked that ridiculous question in our lives? What in the Dickens are we meant to say in response? (I have to interrupt myself here to tell the tale of my youngest who questioned my use of the great writer's name as a curse word, and I explained it was a polite way of expressing surprise. I then described who the 'Dickens' in question was. "Ah, I see," nodded my bairn knowingly; "So his real name was Charles Hell, then?") Anyway, back to the questioning of your personal IQ levels - who indeed would pose such a difficult and insulting challenge? For the over 40s our first real exposure to this question was at school - the touchy-feely esteembuilding fluffiness of political correctness hadn't reached North East classrooms in the 70s and 80s.
Indeed, many of our teachers embraced the boot camp approach to children in their care.
This was where the drill sergeant firstly broke the recruits spirit in order to then build it back up again in the mould of the regiment...only they neglected to do the building back up bit.
In such less enlightened times, any acknowledgement of learning styles or impediments were as far in the future as the Internet and Joey Essex.
Back then, it was common to be labelled as simply 'thick' by a particular teacher.
This diagnosis was then repeatedly verified by other members of staff until it was taken up by other children too.
I recall a Maths teacher who really knew their stuff. A real egg heed.
The problem was he had the people skills of Pol Pot and the ability to confuse that would shame the instructions on a cheap self - assembly filing cabinet.
This person would gleefully fill the black board with equations like it was their job (which it was) leaving the vast majority of us kids uncomprehendingly staring at this chalky mess like Chavs at a Starbucks menu.
Egg heed would then invite one of the snotty urchins in the class to complete one of these NASA type scribblings.
Silence. Egg heed's manic Tony Blair grin began to rapidly fade until it resembled Michael Portillo on election night 97; the sort of disgusted expression you sport when you find a stranger's undies in the bottom of your cheap B&B bed.
"Can't you see?" he would exhort - "It's obvious," they would begin to rant; leading up to the climax of "ARE YOU STUPID?" The child in the crosshairs would mutely turn red, his eyes fixed on the froth the raging adult had sprayed down their tie.
Unfairly, the rest of us would feel both smug at this mug's inability to answer, yet simultaneously relieved it wasn't us.
Indeed , this kid was now on the receiving of our own activities to reinforce the teacher's opinion.
These included, at play time, informing the unfortunate bairn it had been proven your IQ was linked to the size of you hands in relation to the size of your head.
Due to their self-esteem now being on the floor, the kid would dutifully place their hand in front of their face.
This then allowed for their palm to be pushed hard and painfully into their mush- usually by the nastiest member of your peer group (the one who ended up as a copper!) Whilst still stunned, the rest of their mates would chorus the radgie teacher's earlier question "ARE YE STUPID?" They were harsh times readers. It wasn't all Discos and Curly Wurlies.
Is that our man Mike..?