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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.