Friday, 21 December 2012

SCHOOLTIME SCANDALS...


A photo of my old school from about a year ago

As previously stated on this blog, Christmas tends to make me
sentimental for the past - to an even greater degree than usual, if such
a thing is possible.  This may well be the last Christmas my old primary
school will see, being due for demolition when a new one is completed
to house the pupils who temporarily inhabit it.  That perhaps requires
further explanation, so allow me to indulge myself by elucidating.  (If
you're a regular reader, you can skip the next two paragraphs.)

A brand-new school has already been built to replace the old one,
and the pupils are presently ensconced within its gleaming interiors.
However, another school in a nearby neighbourhood needed to be
demolished before the new one could be built (due to restricted space),
so the pupils from that school moved into the vacated premises of my
old one, which has been renamed in the process.  When their new build-
ing is completed, the pupils will vacate my old school - which will
then, sadly, be wiped from the face of the earth.

Luckily, I managed to gain access to the old school just before it was
'pressed into temporary service' and managed to take loads of photos
for posterity.  I was looking at them the other night (once more retracing
the steps of my past) when, as I gazed at the corridors along which I
once so casually cavorted, an incident from the long-vanished days of
my childhood resurfaced in the tranquil waters of my recollection.
Allow me to share it with you now.

******

In a far more innocent age than the one we now inhabit, it was once
the custom (and may still be) for primary school pupils to be paired off
with a partner when a class was in transit to another part of the school.
That is, if a class was going to the dinner hall, for example, pupils would
be instructed to form a double column, clasp the hand of the person
next to them, and proceed in an orderly fashion to their destination.

This practice was so ingrained in us from our earliest days that,
eventually, whenever we were required to form an orderly line to
or from any point in the school, we would automatically 'pair-off' with
another pupil by saying "Take" (as if staking a claim), and then grasp
their hand in our own.  Sometimes this choice was made purely from
whoever was in closest proximity to us, and sometimes it would be
a particular pal who was accorded the accolade.  (And vice versa.)

With that in mind (just in case it's no longer the practice in schools
these days), you're now equipped to understand my motivation in
the tale I am about to (finally) relate.

The first floor corridor in which the following incident occurred

One fine day, our class was on its way to the gym hall at the other
end of the building.  As was my custom (being a rather shy, introverted
boy, believe it or not), I hung back and waited for the rest of the class
to leave the room before joining the trail at the tail-end.  Being without
a partner, I skirted along the outside of the line of pupils, looking for
someone in a similar position, when I noticed something ahead of me.
The fire doors in the middle of the corridor were open, giving the
top of the door frame the appearance of a roof beam.

A peculiarity of introverted children is that they sometimes over-
compensate with uncharacteristic displays of extrovertedness, and this
day was one such occasion.  As I made my way along the outside of the
line, I said "Watch this" to two boys on the left of me, took a couple of
hops and a jump, and hit the top of the door 'beam' on the way through.
Having 'shown off' (for the year), my attention was diverted by the boy
ahead of me - BILLY McCLUSKEY - likewise being without a partner,
so I automatically said "Take" and clasped his hand in line with then-
current custom.
  
Un-noticed by me, however, Billy had a LEE'S 'Snowball'
from the tuckshop in his hand, which I inadvertently squashed within
its clear cellophane wrapper, much to his annoyance and my surprise.
I'm sure you can see what's coming;  Billy hailed the teacher's attention,
proclaiming:  "Please, Miss - Gordon Robson's squashed my Snowball!"
(behave - it wasn't a euphemism) and proceeded to kick up a fuss about
it.  I, of course, protested my innocence (of intent, if not result), but
the two lads I had passed were having none of it.

View from the first floor corridor window

You see, to them, it seemed as if I had invited them to witness my
crime by saying "Watch this", and that my tagging the door 'beam' was
merely a casual display of exuberance on my way to commit the dastardly
deed, not the actual act I was inviting them to observe.  A good few years
back, I could still remember the names of the two pupils who spoke out
against me, but the passage of time has dimmed my ability to recall them
now.  I've a vague idea that it may have been BILLY MONTGOMERY
and ROSS CAMPBELL (who had a history of 'cliping' in order to gain
the teacher's favour), but I'm not 100% certain.  Apologies if it wasn't
them, but I owe them for other misdemeanours anyway, so I'm not
going to lose any sleep over it.

The result?  I had to reimburse Billy for the cost of his confectionery,
but that didn't bother me as much as the teacher not quite believing
it was an accident (otherwise she'd have replaced Billy's Snowball with
another one from the tuckshop for free), and the alacrity with which my
accusers had leapt to 'put the boot in'.  In all truthfulness, I can honestly
state that I never knew Billy was holding anything, and that my account
of events is exactly how they transpired.  I can see why things looked as
they did to the other two boys, but it's a perfect example of a situation
not being what it seemed, despite appearances to the contrary.

So, let that be a lesson to you (and me).  Sometimes, even when
you're certain, you may still be wrong.  Funny the things that stick in
your memory 45 years-plus after the fact, eh?  I wonder how (or even
if) Billy and the two over-enthusiastic 'witnesses' recall the event.

Anyway, that's killed a bit of time (and perhaps even your will to live).
If you don't behave, I may regale you with a similar-type incident from
 my secondary school days.  You can't say you haven't been warned.

******

For more Schooltime Scandals, click here.

2 comments:

TwoHeadedBoy said...

Ah, the injustices of primary school justice... I remember one lunchtime I was sitting on the playground (like you do), daydreaming or something when one of the dinnerladies called me over. Apparently I'd bit someone.

I hadn't, obviously, and I knew that, but when she put me in front of the teacher after lunch to be told off, somehow I couldn't find my way to denying it. I made up stories about how this guy's arm had ended up in my mouth (such as walking forward biting the air and so on), and eventually confessed to something I didn't do.

Dinnerladies/teachers could be VERY persuasive, it seems.

Kid said...

And what was your punishment, o mental one?