MARKS TO PROVE IT
Cold with the vapid wafts of February mist, the sort you know will slowly disappear to give off the super bright sunshine, faintly reminiscent of the summer.
8 o’clock and my friends have left ahead of me as I was only half way through my breakfast bowl of rice krispies. Alone, I fancied I could get lost in the mist and avoid the dangers of school. Of course, even as my mind built these crystal castles, my belligerent feet marched me towards the school. Having found myself at Friday Acre, the gates of the school obvious in plain sight before me, My feet resolutely strode forward to meet the gaggle of mates in the centre of the playground. As I approached the gang fell silent, I was the topic of their conversation, was the unblinkered certainty I reached. My friend Shaun, sidled up to me and whispered the gossip in my ear.
“Your for it, Mrs. Weston’s daughter has been saying you have defaced school equipment, and that your going to get the cane.”
Mrs. Weston was my class teacher and her busy body daughter was a couple of years ahead and a prefect. She didn’t like me, she told her Mom, that I cheeked her, which I did, and her Mom was thus turned against me.
As the bell rang and we formed lines in the pavement, to be brought inside by each class’s form teacher, I saw the older girls looking at me and laughing.
To be honest, I could not begin to understand why I might be for it… Defacing school property? What did that even mean? I had no idea… Didn’t sound very good either way.
We made our way into the temporary classrooms, that seemed to be in every school in those days, to my knowledge the temporary classrooms lasted at least thirty years, so not that temporary by all accounts.
We sat in our neat little rows, and waited as mrs.Weston read the register. I was quite high on the list as my surname begins with a B. As she called my name and I answered, a smirk went across her face. Maybe I was really for it…
The litany of names came and went and yet still no sign was given as to what my misdemeanour might be. I thought back to the walk in the mist and wished fervently I’d obeyed my mind and not my feet.
We were led out to the main assembly room, stroke Gym, as the walls were housing pull out ropes ladders etc. This ritual, Dull lessons from the Bible followed by the Lord’s Prayer and desultory renditions of All things bright and beautiful, and then school notices. I was not mentioned… Maybe I wasn’t for it? Usually the dreaded Headmaster loved to punish our miscreant behaviour, so if I was not hauled out in front of the school, maybe the rumour was false. As we shuffled out in a respective class groups, a feeling of relief washed across me. I looked at Shaun and smiled, he shrugged, maybe the bitch had been spreading false rumours.
We got back into our classroom and a hush fell upon us as Mrs.Weston stood statuesque in front of the blackboard. She reached across to her desk and picked up a blue school notebook, it was muddy and wet, and pages seemed to be torn. I gulped. I knew that notebook. It was my Maths book. I had really loved maths in those early days of school, much better at Maths than at reading and writing. I enjoyed answering the puzzles so much that I had took the book home with me and completed all of the problems. On the way back to school with the maths book completed I suddenly thought what if I got into trouble for having completed all of my maths book. I lost my bottle and decided to throw it down the drain on the way to school, out of sight out of mind…
Someone must have seen me deposit it in the drain and had retrieved it just to get me into trouble. The world is so injust! A big ugly gnarled finger pointed at me and ordered me to the front of the classroom.
I now stood in front of the class, beetroot red and fuming that my deceit had been so easily discovered.
She bent me over the front desk and delivered six of the best. In fairness, her trevails were weak compared to the dreaded Headmaster, and through my arse cheek smarted, no blood had been drawn, and the red weals were fast to disappear. It was the fact that I was humiliated in front of the whole class which smarted. There were girls in our class that I had a crush on, and I felt I would never live this down.
So there you have it I was punished for doing school work in my own time, just because I enjoyed doing it, and the fact I had tried to hide the evidence of this, spoke volumes about the strict regime and our mistrust of the teachers.
At that stage I was bottom of the grades, being in the 1C, then 2C, but by the third year I was Moved into the B stream, and in the final year I was held back in the B stream because the A stream was already over-sized. I was the only boy in the B stream to be made into a Prefect.
In the first two years of Senior School I was in the top three across the year in most subjects.
After that life took a turn for the worst… But that is a whole other story.