Norton of Morton

Read a new instalment of Norton of Morton every Saturday at 4 o'clock

Saturday 15 June 2019

The conscientious objector

In which G.M. Norton walks his own path.

I may not come across as a difficult sort, but underneath the tweed exterior, I can be quite a handful (oo-er).

I suppose the simple truth is, I’m not a rule follower. I’d go as far as stating that I’m an out-and-out rule breaker.

Rules are everywhere you go. What’s more, most of them are made-up and aren’t actually real rules. People like them so much, they will make rules about rules with nothing truly behind them to actually enforce them. 

Don’t get me wrong, one of the rules I often break is my rule about breaking rules. Sometimes, I may decide to follow a rule simply because it suits me.

Have I always been this way? Well, I think so yes although one example of petty rules does stick in my mind. During my school days, pupils were not permitted to enter the school through the main reception area. We had to walk half-way around the building to a side door. Which was often 

One afternoon, I had merrily skipped out of school and was halfway to the bus stop before I realised I had forgotten my art folder, containing some rather important homework. As a conscientious sort, I rushed back to school, even going as far as breaking into a run.

In such a rush to catch my teacher who had the key to the classroom where my folder was kept, without thought, I walked through the forbidden main reception area.

Within seconds, I heard the dulcet tones of one of the deputy heads (who also doubled up as a teacher of physical education, despite his portly disposition). “Can I help you?”, he enquired, in a most friendly manner.

I proceeded to breathlessly explain, for I was not used to this running lark, about my art folder predicament. Before I could quite finish, I was rudely interrupted by this dullard, who was all shout and spit. “I was being sarcastic. You’re not allowed through those doors. Go out and walk around.”

Rolling my eyes, I walked through the very doors that were out-of-bounds (it’s rich that pupils are granted permission to walk out of the damn things, but not through them) and casually sauntered around the edge of the huge piece of abhorrent 80s architecture until I reached the side door. Which miraculously, was open.

I headed back to the very spot from where I was ejected and waited to speak to the deputy head again, who was busy spitting saliva at another poor pupil. The look on my face must have been one of complete and utter disdain as a fellow teacher quickly approached and wrapping a supportive arm 
around me, instantly helped me solve my homework problem.

For me, there is a time and place for rules and this was not one of them. Not many pupils would run back to school to retrieve their homework. I should have been applauded, with a statue built in my honour.

From that moment on, I became very anti-rule. Especially if it meant annoying power-crazed authoritarians. That’s why I enjoy the retrospective lifestyle. Dressing like a relic of the past is rebellious according to the rules of modern life. 

If you are a staunch follower of rules, try breaking one and see how you feel. Rather than a pang of guilt, you may experience something altogether different – freedom.

It’s all too easy to follow rules and for some people, they feel quite content following them. But if there’s anything that has ever annoyed you, question it and if you feel you are able to, break it.

It occurred to me recently that something as simple walking on grass can feel quite naughty. As if grass is sacred ground that is too delicate to come into contact with shoes. Paths are the way that rule-followers tread. Forgo the path and get to your destination more quickly across the grass. Don’t worry, a park-keeper won’t shout at you and chase you off it. There are no ‘Keep off the grass’ signs, so it’s not even a proper rule that you’re breaking. But it’s a start!

As a chap with an interest in all things sartorial, there are all manner of rules relating to one’s attire.

For instance, it is tradition to leave the bottom button of your waistcoat left undone. This was all because a King had eaten a few too many good lunches and was unable to comfortably button it up properly. Go on, be a devil and fasten your weskit all the way down!

Wearing brown shoes in the city of London is also frowned upon. Poppycock! Wear your tan monk shoes with pride. What I’m trying to get across is to not just blindly follow what you are encouraged to follow. You are in charge of your own destiny. Be a stickler for breaking rules.

G.M. Norton

Protagonist of 'Norton of Morton'

1 comment

  1. Some rules are useful, but none to do with clothes!


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