A Backbencher in the UK In Westminster parliamentary systems, a backbencher is a member of Parliament (MP) or a legislator who holds no governmental office and is not a frontbench spokesman in the Opposition, being instead simply a member of the “rank and file“. You will see that there is no space between ‘back’ and ‘bencher’ as opposed to the title of this post. That is because the contents here are for students in our schools here who either voluntarily sit or are punished by the teacher to sit on the last benches in the classroom.
Some students wear that honour with great pride.
Out of the blue, my friend JM posted this message in a WhatsApp group’s page a few days ago. I have tried to get details of the source without success and if some reader can help me I shall update this post with an update.
The Back Benchers
In school, there was, is and will be,
A unique and discreet subset.
A few rows of back-benchers,
Students, who were never afraid of a test.
The backbenchers took the longest breaks,
Took the longest to settle down.
Rarely would have done their homework,
Still, from teachers didn’t evince a frown.
They were current on movies,
And knew great stuff on sports too.
And if our city had secret places to visit,
They already been there an done it too.
They weren’t good at academics,
But weren’t bothered about it.
They were good in sports,
But would not bother others about it.
They were taller and heavier,
Some had seen more summers.
Puberty struck them earlier,
One of them was a drummer.
They had magazines which front benchers didn’t,
More glossy and re-readable at that.
There was an air of mischief,
And a smile that complemented that.
Except in the art class,
The ones in our class were great artists too.
They’d draw on the desk,
Art mentionable & unmentionable too.
They knew how to fly planes,
Land missiles on teachers.
And with a poker face,
Lie with panache & credence.
Catcalls and comments,
Came from them with a regular flow.
Assignments were jointly completed,
Later than sooner they would show.
They were a nice lot,
Happier than most others, I’d say.
More at peace with themselves,
Except on the results day.
Sports Day was the day they’d excel,
And make their class and house proud.
Win points and medals,
Be cheered by the crowd.
They had the colours on holi,
Their pen wielded ink too.
Their crackers resounded in toilets,
They had the gadgets & games too.
In time we met again,
In social media groups & reunions.
They’ve done as well as those in front,
The differences have melted since.
Happy then and happy now,
The backbenchers had a fair deal.
They must’ve slogged in between,
As good or better than front row, I feel.
It generally evens out in life,
Whether you were at the front or back.
The benchmark was never the bench,
Or where they sat, front or back.
I posted on the page that I was a back bencher in school and this poem resonated with me. I have also had the experience of being punished by being asked to stand up on the bench as shown in the image for the person in the third row. I had also used some classes to catch up with sleep deprived due to excess physical activity. I also used the opportunity to give my thoughts about what the others in the group might have been in school and all my predictions turned out to be true. None of the others incidentally, were back benchers though!
I mentioned this to a couple of friends and one of them said that he is not surprised that I was a back bencher but, his reasoning was based on my being larger in built than the average Indian male. I thought that was odd and asked a school teacher friend of mine as to what could have prompted that observation and he promptly responded that the larger built students in schools were either into sports or the NCC, Boy Scouts etc and as such are less studious. They are also more likely to be punished for being mischievous in class by being relegated to the back benches. This too resonated with me as I fitted that description when I was in school.
The poem resonates with me because like the poem says, I have done as well if not better than the front benchers of my class in school.
What bencher were you?