In love? No one else approves? Clearly, suicide is the solution - but not until you've taken out your wife's cousin then her other cousin - who is also, somehow, her fiancé.
No, it's not something the Mormons dreamed up, it's what kids are learning in a school near you, in shameless Shakespeare's rogue tragedy Romeo and Juliet. What if your parents don't like the boy you met two days ago? Fake your own death - get buried in the family grave, wake up, try to poison yourself, realise there's no poison left and dagger yourself instead. This senseless, obsessive suicide story is billed as the greatest love of all.
Outraged? You'll be disgusted when you realise that the object of this love story is really a boy who's been forced to wear a dress.
Someone ought to tell The Daily Mail. Exam-crazed English teachers are drilling this warped, madness filth into kids at every available moment - me included. It's worse than crack cocaine (probably).
Is your retarded best friend getting you down? Not to worry. If you're in a John Steinbeck novel, and your name is George, you can always shoot him in the head. 'It seems cruel, but really it's kind,' is a phrase I've read too many times in kids' class essays. Sometimes I wonder if they've really grasped the pathos, tragedy and nobility of this great moment in literature. Having said that, it's not a totally off-beam summary of Of Mice and Men.
Kids are adults in training, so it's good if they learn early that plans often go wrong - or 'gang aft agley', as Burns would have it. Ted Hughes writes about the evils of nature, how life is a car crash, leaving you knackered up ('old'). Read Carol Ann Duffy and you'll never even think of falling in love - thereby avoiding the sticky business of having to fake your own death. Or if you do fall in love, you can save money on gifts, by following Duffy's brilliant tip of giving your beloved an onion 'wrapped in brown paper', as she does in 'Valentine'. When I explained this to a student today, I was accused of 'making it up'. I'm not making it up. You couldn't make this stuff up if you tried - unless you're a Colossus of Literature, mercilessly anthologized.
Flip through any English anthology and there's murder lurking. The narrator of Simon Armitage's poem 'Hitcher' picks up a hitchhicker, smashes him in the face with the crook lock and flings him out on a bend. The narrator of 'The River God' drowns a girl. Robert Browning's poem 'My Last Duchess' has a friendly Medici psychopath explaining how wonderful he is, and also how he murdered his last wife. Porphyria's lover strangles her with her own hair. That's Literature. The scariest thing is that most kids, when asked 'is this the voice of the poet?', say yes, they think it's the poet explaining about how he murdered someone. Don't get me wrong, sometimes murderers do confess, but I'm not expecting Mick Philpott to pop out 'Wot I Did' in blank verse.
So if your kids are getting funny ideas don't blame the teachers, please. Blame Shakespeare. Or John Steinbeck. Or whoever wrote the curriculum. It's just more interesting when things go wrong, unfortunately.
This is a humorous article. Suicide is not the solution. Neither is taking out your wife's cousin(s), brother, or your interfering mother-in-law. Please don't shoot your best friend, or call him (or her) 'retarded'. Not even when you realise they just finished the last of the crisps and the shop is now closed.