Monday, 10 June 2013

SCHOOLTIME SCANDALS - PART THREE: VALENTINE'S DAY - IT DOESN'T PAY TO BE A SMARTIE...



Mr. VALENTINE was a Maths teacher at DUNCANRIG Senior Secondary School who was regarded as a 'bit of a dish' by all the female pupils and a 'great bloke' by most of the male contingent, especially the sporty ones.  If I recall correctly, he was involved in running the school rugby matches in some way, and one of his favourite jokes when recounting the most recent game was how surprised he was at how many of the 'under-15s' in the opposing side had seemingly cut themselves shaving that morning.  (The implication being that the services of older 'ringers' had been procured to ensure victory.)  Cue hoots of uproarious laughter from enthralled pupils eager to ingratiate themselves and curry the master's favour. If he's still teaching, he's probably still cracking that joke today.

Mr. Valentine married Miss HALL, an English teacher who insisted on inflicting a sadistic torture upon her students.  She would read aloud a passage from STAN BARSTOW'S 'A KIND Of LOVING'  and then, as some embarrassingly erotic paragraph beckoned, stop, look around, and ask some horrified pupil to take over. The pools of perspiration (well, I think it was perspiration) left under the desks at the end of the period could have filled a swimming pool, such was the terrified apprehension at being one of the 'chosen ones'.  I know I wasn't alone in considering the possibility that the seemingly innocent and demure Miss Hall got her 'jollies' from listening to beetroot-red schoolkids reading 'dirty' words.

However, back to her man:  I, alone amongst the schoolboy throng, wasn't fooled by his jovial and easy-going, bloke-ish manner, nor by the fact that he some-times appeared on SONGS Of PRAISE on TV.  "Why?" you may ask.  And, having pretended you did, I shall now tell you.

******

One day, in Mr. Valentine's Maths class, I asked for permission to sharpen my pencil in the pencil-sharpener (what else?) next to the blackboard at the front of the room.  As I set about my task, Mr. Valentine produced a box of SMARTIES and announced he was going to share them out amongst the pupils.  What a guy!  The class consisted of around five sets of desks, one in each corner of the room and (I think) one in the middle.  I was making my way back to my desk as he went around the first group and, jokingly, I leant in amongst them with proffered palms as he dropped some Smarties into their outstretched hands.  Stepping around me, he continued to the pupil on my left and, smiling to myself at my jest, I resumed my seat in one of the far corners near the large rear windows.

Eventually he reached the desks at which I was sat, and started to drop Smarties into the hands of my compatriots.  Free Smarties - what a guy!  When he got to me, he missed me out and continued to the student next to me.  "Sir," I said, surprised, "you haven't given me any."  He looked at me dismissively and retorted "You got some over there!", indicating the desks nearest the blackboard.  "But you missed me out, Sir," I protested.  "Stay after class 'til I have a word with you!", he replied.

So, free Smarties all 'round - for everybody except me!  Did I say what a guy?  What a b*st*rd more like!  When the bell rang at period's end, although I was last in line, I slowly made my way towards the exit, but he made no attempt to stop me.  At one point I actually looked straight at him as I approached the door, expecting him to pull me up, but he stared off into the distance and said nothing.

Even today, I wonder what it was all about.  I had never caused any trouble in his class, never been cheeky to him and had kept a low profile.  Did he genuinely think he'd given me some Smarties, then remembered that he hadn't and sheepishly abandoned his implied threat of punishment at lesson's end?  Or was it simply a sadistic act against a 14 year old pupil to provide himself with a hilarious tale in the staff room at break-time of how he'd 'got one over' on that 'odious Robson creature'?

To this day, whenever I hear old classmates mention what a 'great guy' Mr. Valentine was, I smile a knowing smile, and think "Not to me he wasn't!"  And, way back then, I always changed channels whenever his smug, hypocritical kipper popped up on Songs of Praise on the telly.  He might've fooled the rest of them, but not me, no siree!

His name may be Valentine, but he sure ain't no saint!

******

Did anyone else ever suffer similar 'schooltime scandals'?  Feel free to unburden yourself in the comments section.

19 comments:

PhilSee said...

Ye Olde School Days were not necessarily the best part of everyone’s formative years, eh? And being the formative years they did shape the mental make-up of your adult life. A responsibility I’m sure lost on many
of the gormless individuals filling in time in the teaching profession. Two spring to mind from my youth – one had the ‘amusing’ habit of making up, usually unflattering, nicknames based on the surnames of his charges at roll call. Much to the mirth of the other students, until their name was called! Did this twit realize how much fodder he was providing for the standard issue school bullies?
The other was a phys ed teacher (a subject loathed by me only marginally more than maths!), who was rather too quick with a back-hander to the head for anyone he perceived as being ‘out of line’. Quite the norm back in the 70s but hugely out of order itself now! Anyway he took a dislike to me for reasons unknown and successfully turned me off all things sports related throughout my adult life. Thanks for listening. Kid’s therapy blog coming up?

Kid said...

Now there's an idea! Actually, I can think of a whole load of teachers who, based on how they treated pupils, simply wouldn't be allowed to teach nowadays. What a bunch of sadistic psychos and social inadequates some of them were. Like you, Phil, I hated PE, and always contrived to find some excuse to avoid participating. Most other subjects, I lost myself in daydreams or doodling for the duration of the period. The only one I enjoyed was Art, because then I was 'officially' allowed to do what I did in the other lessons anyway. Thanks for commenting.

DeadSpiderEye said...

School teachers, they're pretty weird people. I've met a few of 'em who've left the profession and they still retain that authoritarian outlook, even the ones who imagined themselves in the trendy teacher role. I suppose it's to be expected, they're almost always completely institutionalised, you know moving straight from being a student to being a teacher. That was the case at my school, except for a few ex army an one ex merchant seaman. We had few women at my school, Fanny King the history marm a real harridan that one. We had reasonably attractive french teacher, can't recall her name, she always aloof but one day I did take a rather ill considered risk at a jest, which would be difficult to explain it was a daft school thing. Anyway her reaction was pretty angry at first and she shouted my Christian name in alarm. I responded with a -who me- look but I knew I was in deep trouble, especially with my record but then she let just a hint of smile cross her features. Wouldya believe it, there was a human being in there after all.

Kid said...

Don't be such a tease, DSE - tell us what you did. Pinch her bum perchance? Go on, spill the beans. We have a right to know.

DeadSpiderEye said...

Sorry Kid my lips are sealed but that's a pretty good guess.

Kid said...

You naughty rascal. I don't suppose she was actually French by any chance?

DeadSpiderEye said...

No she wasn't I'm afraid, we did have a French teacher who was French for a while, she was rather incongruously called Miss Plunkett and you wouldn't hurry to pinch anything of hers I'll tell you that for nothing. We had a few of 'em, all women for some reason, even had a student from Senegal who didn't actually last the entire lesson and left in tears, an incident which i regret to admit, was in no small part down to me. There was kudos from the lads but all the girls in the class wanted to knife me, not very proud of it now either.

Kid said...

Our French teacher was a guy - I don't remember any female French teachers, so lucky you. Perhaps I might've been more interested in learning the lingo if it had been some nubile young Mademoiselle taking the lessons.

You must have gone to a bit of a soft school - in mine, the girls WOULD have knifed you. They were so hard, they could crack walnuts in their eyelids.

B Smith said...

I had a German teacher of German parentage - she must have had something going for her as my best friend ended up marrying her.

Kid said...

Not while he was still in her class, I take it?

B Smith said...

Almost - in Year 11 she organised a student exchange program; he stayed over there a year - when he came back, she split with her husband, and they were married a couple of years later (not sure exactly because he dropped all his former friends when he came back).

Kid said...

Wow! One of them must have been good in giving lessons in something, eh? Oral German, perhaps. Cheers, B.

Anonymous said...

Can honestly say that some of my teachers in the 1970s would not be allowed within 100m of a school building today. Some of the female teachers were just as handy with the hands on teaching methods with a tug of hair a favourite punishment. I always think school days are best viewed through rose tinted spectacles, the reality would be a bit hard to bear for many.

Ken.

Kid said...

Talking of female teachers, we had one in primary school who left many a bruise on the arms of pupils while repeatedly punching them for spelling a word wrong, or whatever. (I know her name, but I've temporarily forgotten it. Miss Haye maybe?)

Kid said...

No, it wasn't. I've just remembered - Miss Dale.

Billy Mc said...

I too have a total disrespect for this guy, I remember being a pain in the butt at school anyway however, on a particular rugby training day he invited me to tackle him while he showed the others how to parry a tackler. I twice put him on the floor with perfectly good tackles but consequently was given the belt and sent to Dr Cook for the privilege.

On another occasion he decided to belt me in the class for no good reason, I refused so sent to stand outside the staff room where he and 2 other teachers decided to get physical and hold me while he belted me. I ended up being suspended for defending myself.

I think the feeling of hatred was mutual as he hated me and I him. To this day I hold that same hate for those school days, even though I admit to being a pain in the butt.

I hope that teaching standards have changed and the sadistic swines are never allowed near kids again.

To finish, I missed the day they pulled Duncanrig down but would have been the best thing I had seen in years.

Kid said...

Today's kids don't know how lucky they are - it's a safe bet they've never experienced things like you describe. Although there were a few teachers I had no time for, I never harboured any bad feeling about the school building itself, and actually quite miss it. The new one will probably need to be rebuilt in around 25 years.

Unknown said...

There was bad teaching practice around that time, but Valentine was not one of them. All the rugby and fishing trips were in his own time and unpaid. I'd have to say, a mug of cement to harden up would be the cure.I had a teacher in primary who used to hit me with her walking stick and a head master who'd use the buckle of his belt when punishing my soon to be swollen hands. Not to be condoned and totally counter productive, but I did kind of deserve it a wee bit.

Kid said...

Well, I hear what you're saying, but how do you account for Bill Mc's reminiscence above? And there are quite a few former pupils on the Duncanrig Facebook page who have far from fond memories of the man. Going by my own experience, I think it's spiteful behaviour for an adult to withhold Smarties from one 14 year old pupil in the entire class. It's small-minded in the extreme in my view, but at the end of the day, I guess it's a case of take him as you find him - but I didn't find him very charitable in his attitude towards me.

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