One thing school taught me was: don’t come back from lunch break with dirty hands - or you’ll get a stroke of the cane across your palm. Sadly, this no longer seems to be the case. I can still remember exactly how it felt to be hit on the forehead by a board rubber thrown from a distance of around 15-feet by a psychotic mathematician dressed in tweed.
I will never forget being forced to lick clean the parquet flooring of the prefect’s study, either – or the splinters that subsequently found their way into my tongue – or the kettle of boiling water poured over my bare hands as I toiled at the sink washing up said prefect’s mugs – or the bits of apple stuck under my swollen eye-lid the day they tied me to an apple tree & three apples at me like a shy – or the day the entire 4th year chased me from the Guy Nelson Hall to the swimming pool - before throwing me in - fully clothed!
I was eventually expelled, of course – following a period of suspension - & the interrogation of my fellow year pupils. A charge sheet was drawn up & I was duly asked to go home one final time - without coming back again in the morning! EXPELLED! Obviously, I failed to share this information with my parents - & continued pretending to go to school for a week or so - until the tear in the time/space continuum eventually healed - & I was duly banged to rights by my parents (I was sent to work with my Father: welcome to the world of electrical contracting).
Throughout all of this appalling treatment & future psychological scarring, I never once told one of my teachers to ‘fuck off’ – or my mother, for that matter. God only knows what the punishment for such an effrontery may have actually been: death? Dismemberment? One can only surmise.
In the secondary schools of this septic isle today, of course, a lesson is not a lesson without informing your art teacher that she is “the bitch from hell” & that she can “go fuck herself in her own arse with her diseased dildo - or whatever!” That’s right, if a kid doesn’t want to go to a particular lesson – get this – they don’t have to go!
“Err, Miss? That Sebastian’s sitting over there - & I don’t like the way he sneers at me - & he once said something nasty to my mate Robson about my mum!”
If they don’t fancy a lesson, the teacher, the subject, the colour of the magic marker, the colour of the socks of the pupil sitting next to them, the temperature, the weather, the news, the football results – whatever – they don’t have to go to the lesson! How fucked up is that?
If they swear at a fellow pupil, abuse a teacher, disrupt a lesson, set fire to the headmaster – they can’t be touched! The teachers can’t lay a finger on them. Can’t even look at them funny, for fear of future prosecution. The High School in a not too distant market town we know recently attempted to expel a pupil for selling marijuana in school. The governors were over-ruled by the authorities monitoring the case, the lad’s parents were not exactly financially challenged - conclusion: the boy is now back in school, once again - & the faint whiff of skunk has returned to the staff room (only joking – or am I?)!
I want to see these kids beaten to a fucking pulp, just like we were. All of them - now! Why the fuck should they be treated any differently to the way we were? Bring back corporal punishment! It never did me any harm. I may have been a slow learner – but I got there eventually! Life is about learning from your mistakes - learning not to make them again – not doing what the hell you want to, regardless of anyone else’s feelings - & then being emotionally & socially incapable of answering for your actions.
Back in the mid-70s I was just a naughty little schoolboy who didn’t know the meaning of the word ‘respect’. These days I’d be diagnosed as ADHD or Asperger’s Syndrome – I’d definitely register somewhere on the autistic spectrum – alongside all the other newly-labelled, responsibility-light, concept-heavy fuck ups standing in the naughty corner:
“They fuck you up, your mom and dad They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had And add some extra, just for you. But they were fucked up in their turn By fools in old-style hats and coats, Who half the time were soppy-stern And half at one another's throats. Man hands on misery to man It deepens like a coastal shelf. Get out as early as you can And don't have any kids yourself.” Philip Larkin
Jean Encoule – tMx 29 – 04/07