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 limited space), so the pupils from that school moved into the vacated premises of my old one, which has been rechristened in the process.  When their new building 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.

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In a far more innocent age than the one we now inhabit, it was once the custom (and may yet be) for primary pupils to pair up with a partner when the class was in transit to another part of the school.  So, if a class was going to the dinner hall, pupils were 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 building, we'd 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, 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 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 habit (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 held 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'd 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'd invited them to observe.  A few years ago, I could still remember the names of my two accusers, but the passage of time has diminished my ability to recall them now.  I've got a vague idea that it may have been BILLY MONTGOMERY and ROSS CAMPBELL (who had a history of 'cliping' in order to curry teacher's favour), but I'm not 100% certain.  Apologies if it wasn't them, but I probably owe them for other misdemeanours anyway so I'm not about 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 so much as the teacher not quite believing it was an accident (or 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 what transpired.  I can see why things looked as they did to the two boys, but it's a perfect example of a situation not being as 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 some time (and perhaps even your will to live).  If you don't behave, I may regale you with a similar-type tale from my secondary school days.  You can't say you haven't been warned.

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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?

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