As we all start getting ourselves into the festive spirit, yes even miserable bastards like me, but mainly as there’s a lot of wine around, I can’t help but reminiscing about my school days. Particularly the last secondary school. I remember gearing up in a similar way but obviously much earlier as we got closer to breaking up for the Xmas holidays. The school was a pretty dire one where survival for the teachers as well as us was above education.
I commented on a friends wall yesterday about bunking off school and it prompted me to comment about my days attending the school, (or mainly not as it happens) there were many fights with teachers which could clearly be seen from the playground as we all looked on laughing as the desks went flying as if they were positioning themselves in some sort of threatening display before actual contact. It would usually end with another teacher rushing in to break it up.
Hardly any of us wore the school uniform, I had a gold satin jacket which was the same as the one Adam Faith wore in the tv series ‘Budgie’ whch I loved at the time.
The staff teachers were almost entirely made up from temporary ones which never stayed long. On one occasion a very old gentleman dressed in a tweed suit arrived, having come out of retirement for some reason. He had a beautiful English upper class accent and sounded to us like Royalty. He was so out of place in a school located smack bang in the middle of one of the roughest council estates in the UK. He must have been well over 75. Of course we all knew he would be lucky to last a week. As it happens I think it was one day when he walked out after calling the register and someone had neatly laid a turd inside the first page, which someone had retrieved from following the school caretaker’s dog. When he opened it, he stood up quite authoritively and shouted ‘WHO did this?) much laughter ensued, this school was totally out of control. In unison the class shouted “REX!” He immediately walked out and was never seen again. I remember this mainly because we were swiftly marched onto the next lesson which was history, a subject I actually enjoyed. The history teacher had been there the longest and had become THE target as we tried ever harder to oust him. (We were evil fuckers) As he tried desperately to control the class, he would get louder and louder until he turned around and shouted “Look, ALL you lot have to do, is directly copy exactly WORD for WORD what I am writing on the blackboard and next year you WILL have at least ONE exam pass, so do yourselves a favour and GET WRITING!” The class went silent, then a rubber hit the blackboard. He turned around sensing that he might still have an element of control, he again shouted, “The next person who throws another rubber will get this one back!” He then waved the blackboard rubber. Now anyone who went to school in the 70s will know blackboard rubbers were about 6″ long by about 3″ thick and made mostly of wood. He turned around and continued chalking up what he was himself, copying directly from a history book, he continued, seconds later I threw a rubber which hit him in his ear, he immediately turned around and true to his word, threw the backboard rubber at me, it hit me hard on my forehead. Bang, the class went quiet. The only sound was the tap, tap and scratching noise of his chalk on the blackboard. I must admit I was a little startled and shocked, as was the class, then I noticed the blood dripping down onto my desk. I shouted ‘Whooa!” the whole class gasped. More silence as the teacher continued chalking away, tap tap, scratch scratch, no doubt pleased he had at last gained control. Someone spoke up, “Sir, he’s bleeding!” The teacher turned around with a look of horror on his face, that actually scared me more! He came over and said “Oh god, come with me to the back room, I’ll fix you up” Going to the back room with a teacher was always a source of ridiculing from fellow pupils at this school but I was now bleeding quite profusely so went along. Once inside, he closed the door behind me, he ran the tap and soaked a peice of cloth I remember. He bathed it and after a litte silence he said “It’s OK, it looks worse than it is, you’ll be fine…And I’m sorry”. All sorts of stuff was racing around my mind, ‘I deserved it, it was fair play’, then he said “You’re not going to tell anyone are you?” Immediately I was thinking how I could capitalise on my unfortunate circumstances, but by this stage I began to feel sorry for him. I must have taken too long to answer him as he then reached for his pocket and pulled out a ten bob note, he handed it to me slowly not knowing my reaction and repeated “You’re not going to tell the headmaster are you, I would get into a lot of trouble” Now ten bob was a lot of money in 1973! I gingerly took it and replied “No, I’m fine”, “Good lad” He smiled. He put a large plaster over the cut. We left the backroom and got back to work where to my surprise everyone had actually copied all what the teacher wrote on the balckboard! I like to think I took one for the team that day, we all passed history the following year!
Anyway, back to that day. I kept my word and did not go to the headmaster. I got home and watched the normal kids TV stuff, I think I remember ‘Magpie’ it was the ‘alternative’ to the established ‘Blue Peter’. Ever the rebel eh? Then my mother came home from work. She was a single parent as my father had died a few years before so had to work. When she got home she pounced on me! “What is THAT on your head? What have you done?” “Nothing, it’s fine” “It’s not fine, what happened? “The teacher threw a blackboard rubber at me” “WHAT! Right I’m having tomorrow off and going in to your school!” “But mum!” “No buts, he’s not getting away with this!” There was no stopping her, she was fiercely protective. I wondered how this was going to unfold, was I going to have to give the ten shillings back? Not gonna happen I thought, anyway I’d already bought a few packs of cigarettes which I had planned to re-sell at school.
So off she went, she had a real pop at the headmaster as I stood there “Look at his head, I sent him here for an education!” Oh mum I thought, this was the last place for that! Anyway he profusely apologised and she seemed happy. I went to my class and everything went back to normal. Well that was until our next history lesson, the teacher looked at me angrily as we went in. After class he pulled me aside, “I thought you weren’t going to tell the headmaster?” I paused for effect, “I didn’t” He looked perplexed, “But, but” I interupted “You never mentioned not telling my mother”. I’m sure I detected a look of suprise with a tinge of respect on his face. Fair play. Then we broke up for the Xmas break…
What did we do when we bunked off? That’s another story altogether!