She walked rapidly in the thin June sunlight towards the worst horror of all
– Graham Greene, Brighton Rock.
The worst horror of all. English class.
Natasha is a little monkey, a 12-yr-old Kop [Korean princess]. A proto-vamp, tight-jeaned and platform-heeled, she spends each weekend working in the family fruit shop (you almost wrote “sweat shop”). Her voice seldom descends below a supercharged whine. In a year or two she will arise to scourge the male race. In the meantime she is content to practise on you.
Joo Li is more Garbo-esque: sullen, half-aggressive, uncooperative. She’s Natasha’s shadow, her anti-self, her complement – less semi-self-consciously sensual, more defiantly hostile and bored.
Dong Hoon is a fat bright stolid boy. Relentlessly mocked by the girls, he maintains the Korean male’s ineluctable self-confident charm / arrogance.
Collectively, they’re the Crack Babies. You tutor them every Tuesday and Thursday night for two and a half hours, of which only the first hour and a half can be filled with vague attempts at conversation and grammar. The last hour is always games.
Tonight they have struggled through the present perfect (“Have you ever … eaten a crocodile?” “No, I have never eaten a crocodile” “Have you ever … swum in the sea?” “Yes, I have often swum in the sea”), and a few rounds of Taboo, and are looking bored, with half an hour to go before you can decently dismiss them.
“This is really boring,” shrieks Natasha.
“Do you want to play another game?”
“Not if it’s stupid.”
“It’s a dream-game.”
Against their will, you can see a little interest appearing. They might be willing to give it a go, at least.
“What’s it about?”
“You’ll have to close your eyes, and listen to me. Picture what I describe to you. You’re in a forest, walking through the trees. Look around, and get a