When was banter born and when will it die? Some banter theorists postulate that banter was created in the heat of the birth of the universe, that banter particles are unkillable, cannot fizzle out, that banter can only pass like energy from one lad to another, banter cannot be suppressed, only transferred; others, more spiritual and in touch with the earth, say banter is a lifeforce of its own: it can diminish, weaken like a flame, that top banter must be nurtured and cared for, fed peri-peri sauce and Sean Bean memes. Banter, like a baby left on a rock, cannot fend for itself. Banter needs care and attention and protection from the vultures. Banter needs a firm steer and sacrificial lambs. Banter is the blood of the planet, and the soil its flesh. We cannot live without banter, and banter cannot live without us. Banter is the fifth element.
But banter is under grave threat from Forthill Primary School in Dundee, who have issued a banter fatwa,a 17-point contract that children must sign before they are allowed to play football in the playground, including clauses that preclude banter and shouting the word "wahoy":
Feel like I'm going to need to break from the shackles of the news story format to instead go rogue and do a list here, so important is it that I break this shit down point-by-point-by-point:
— Nobody has say the word "wahoy" ever in their fucking life;
— Obviously of grave concern is the fact that whoever drafted this up cannot spell the word "hog" correctly and so should they really be in charge of shaping the beautiful young minds of Scottish youths and young adolescents and/or telling them in anyway what to do, I mean it's a three-letter word, how hard you gotta fuck up to misspell a three-letter word, especially by adding an additional letter;
— 'I will not deliberate foul tackles' is also not a viable sentence and is essentially a regulation from the Thought Police looking to suppress the next generation's Tony Adams;
— There are certain restrictions here – 'I will not gloat or boast', 'I will not name call or tease', 'I will not deliberately chase on the pitch' – which seem to designed to needle out even the merest hint of devilry in the children, and I don't want to get too bombastic and be all "they are turning the next generation into mindless, rule-abiding drones! We must do something before the nanny state goes too far!" but, also: I very much do;
— I think it's fair to assume that whoever came up with the rules 'I will not name call or tease' and 'I will not argue an agreed out or foul' has never been a child or never played a game or never had fun, of any kind, because many of my most treasured childhood memories are arguing that a ball had crossed an invisible line and was in fact a throw in, arguing until my little round tomato face went red in the sun, until the other kids crowded around and teased me until I cried, until bigger boys ran at me with their bicycles and their hard dogs, "JOEL CRIES AT THROW-INS," they're chanting, "JOEL GO IN GO–AL," and if I grew up having signed a similar banter suppression then I wouldn't have those treasured moments, would I, I wouldn't have had a childhood at all;
— Rob children of their banter and you rob them of their soul.
A spokesperson for Dundee City Council told the Dundee Evening Telegraph: "The letter has been issued following a number of issues that have occurred this school year during break and lunchtime football games," adding that the children had been directly involved with formulating the new rules, although you have to assume the children who actively helped teachers come up with rules to stop the other children from bantering them off too hard when they scored a goal were not, let's say, the natural athletes of the school, and instead were the little grass nerds who do extra maths lessons because even at the age of 11 they are thinking of their GCSEs, that sort of thing.
But level 3 SFA coach and father Ryan Finnegan, whose son attends the school, knows what's up. He described the banter contract to the Evening Telegraph as "political correctness gone mad", a statement which is brilliant, which suggests there was ever a moment where political correctness existed in confines that could not – by mildly frustrated conservative party voters – be described as being "mad", the sanity of political correctness, some ethereal and unknowable exact moment where enforced equality and fairness could universally be seen as a good thing, and not, instead, an attack on Britishness, an attack on everything we know to be true, an attack on our children, an attack on banter.
This is what George Orwell truly envisioned in his book Nineteen Eighty-Four: a grey world without banter, silent playgrounds bereft of life. Forthill Primary School are trying to trying to oppress banter, extinguish it, and they are doomed to fail with it. Because don't you understand, Forthill Primary School? Banter is bigger than you and me. Banter is bigger than all of us. We will live and we will die, and banter will continue unabated. When the universe gasps to its final end, when the last dying ebb of energy burns out of the sun, only then will the banter stop. Don't play with forces bigger than the human mind can comprehend. Don't fuck with banter.
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