People often call me a bitch and I have to set them straight. “I am not a bitch. I say indignantly. “I’m a Savage. Sophia Savage. Nice to meet you”.
Actually, I am a little bit of a bitch. But then, how could I not be with a name like Savage? It’s not really a name to make you feel happy about your lot in life, is it?
So yes, I’m a bitch and a Savage. I have a wicked tongue and an appetite for fun. What of it?
“With a name like that” I usually say, “it’s lucky I’m not swinging from chandeliers clutching a can of Red Stripe”. It’s at this point that my friends usually remind me of the time when I did swing from a chandelier, clutching a can of Red Stripe. What a party that was!
But I’m not just a bitch and a Savage, is my point. I’m a sophisticated and cultured woman, too. I have a degree in International Relations, I speak five languages include Mandarin and I have read the complete works of Shakespeare (even the boring bits). Yep, I’m a very civilised Savage.
So what if I like a beer or twenty? I can drink most men under the table. And what if I ocassionally drink until I throw up? Better out than in, I say. And that I enjoy the occasional dust up? It just means that I can take care of myself. If a man calls me a weak and feeble woman I can guarantee that he’ll be on his back by the time he reaches the “wo” in woman.
It’s not really Savage, anyway. It’s Savauge, from the French. It was anglicised by people who held out the vain hope that Savage would somehow sound better. Yes, honestly. In the cold hard light of the day I recognise that my ancestors were morons, and that my name was a dead weight. However, as a child, I carried my that name like a festering wound.
I began to hate the act of being called. I hated it when class bully Bit Robinson screamed it across the playground in primary school. Hated it when nice but dim Ms Barnard innocently asked about the name’s origin. And I certainly hated it when pasty old Mr Johnson bellowed it whenever I was naughty (which was often). “You. Savvvaaagggge!” he would say, underemphasising the full stop for comic effect.
I began to dread people calling me my name. I’d answer the daily register before the teacher had even reached me. I’d be at the doctor’s office door before the receptionist had even summonsed me. I even began to reinsert the long neglected ‘u’ that my ancestors had so carelessly tossed away. I will be Savage no longer, I thought.
None of this worked, off course.
My ascent to the school stage for the third year Speech Day was accompanied by the whole school screaming “Savage! Savage! Savage!” in unison.
It took my prepubescent crush to destroy the remains of my confident, however. I had fancied Danny Fisher throughout the entire fourth year of our secondary school life at Cardinal Bishop’s Catholic School. I had fancied him through every single one of our fourth form English lessons together, through every agonisingly confusing maths lesson, and through every PE lession.
Not that my desire for him stopped at the school gates, however. No, it split down Wanstead High Road, surged past the Boots and KFC, and swept aboard the no.59 – the bus that took us both home. It was on that bus that my final humiliation took place.
Every seat but one on the upper deck had been filled by the time I took my seat for the 15 minute ride to my house. The love of my young was immediately behind me . Unfortunately, so was Rowan Graham. Rowan was St Saviours self-appointed school bully. A bigger simpleton you could not possibly meet.
“Oi, Fisher” he bellowed, as much to the bus as to the object of my affections. Danny turned to face him. “Iz it true?” Graham quizzed. I could feel the temperature of my skin begin to rise, the blood vessels tightening furiously.
“iz it true?” Graham paused here for dramatic effect. “About you and Sophie”.
Danny made as if to speak but Graham interrupted him, an evil grin plastered across his obnoxious face. He was clearly enjoying himself. “Only…I ‘eard you did it behind the bike sheds”.
My face blushed a deeper shade of red. The oxygen suppling the veins seemed to suddenly be in desperately short supply.
The object of my affection looked at me helplessly – as if waiting for me to intervene. Finally, he began to speak. However, Graham was not finished and once again he interrupted.
“Well?” he quizzed.
“What’s she like, then?” he continued.
No one spoke. No one moved. It seemed like no one even breathed. The whole bus had taken a collective intake of breath.
Unfortunately, for Danny and I, Graham still felt the need to elaborate.
“In bed” he said. “What’s she like in bed?”
Danny appeared to have not heard the question at first. He stared off into space. However, suddenly and without warning, his expression shifted and then darkened. He was grimacing. He looked as if he wished the earth would swallow him up. I immediately knew what that expression meant. Danny Fisher was a virgin – just like me!
The longest time past before Danny made to answer the question. He sucked his breath into his chest, as if he were preparing to submerge himself below water. He turned to look at his accuser, while all the while skilfully avoiding my glance. His expression was resolute. Was he going to tackle Graham and tell him what a bully he was?!
“So? “said Graham again. The bus was still holding its breath.
Fisher opened his mouth to speak. I held my breath. “She’s… “
“She’s a right Savage” Danny Fischer said and I felt the my heart shatter into a million pieces.