Sunday, August 07, 2005

Down boy

At Small Person's school, there's a programme in place which sponsors a boy in India to enable him to complete his education. This is highly commendable, and an example of how the oft-spouted but seldom proved theory of my childhood which held that if you didn't clear your plate you were somehow contributing to the misery and downfall of remote, faceless children in a part of the world you had no frame of reference for, has evolved in order to actually make a difference in a valid, measurable way. At my primary school, which was elitist and snobbish in the extreme, the nearest we were allowed to get to "poor" people was a scheme in which we wrote, collectively, to children at a school on Fair Isle. As far as my memory serves, this is somewhere north of Scotland and they had an awful lot of brown crayons, judging by the pictures we were sent. Maybe they knitted their own? This enforced and slightly bewildering pen-pal programme gave rise to another of my hideous faux-pas, involving a carol service, a fellow pupil with a heart condition, and an ill-judged yet accidental reference to her possible early demise. My primary school was, on reflection, a fairly odd place. With only one hundred and thirty pupils it had a cosy, insular atmosphere, which was excacerbated by the fact that the headmaster and his wife ran the place, and lived in the connecting property. My needlework classes (I was utterly rubbish and ended up with a motley collection of wrinkled, stained, poorly-sewn offerings over the three years I was forced to attempt it) were held in their sitting room, and my mum once had to climb through this window during a meeting with the headmistress when Sheena Rowsell catapulted me over the short handle of the see-saw during a particularly spirited round of bumps. The other thing contributing to this uncomfortably familiar atmosphere was the School Dog. He was an, ahem, intact male golden labrador named Charlie, who by turns charmed and terrified each of us during our formative years. He was a constant, marauding presence, famous for endless barking jags and mine-sweeping during bring and buy sales. He had the run of the (thankfully) asphalt playground, and the headmaster was often witnessed wearing an enormous pair of rubber gauntlets and carrying a rusting shovel, scooping up Charlie's number twos and flushing them down the staff toilet. I also have a vivid, possibly damaging memory of said headmaster, clutching a handful of kitchen paper, chasing Charlie round the back of the assembly hall as the poor dog legged it (presumably having eaten a long piece of string) with what looked like a three-foot shitty rope hanging out of his backside and trailing behind him. As if this weren't bad enough, Charlie had all those natural urges that boy dogs have, and would periodically mount an unsuspecting, leapfrog playing six-year-old, humping madly away until his victim was rescued and led off, boater askew, to be comforted with soft digestive biscuits and a go on the lunchtime bell. In today's safety-conscious, Daily-Mail-soaked society, with its attendant fears and nannying, a School Dog would not be tolerated lest pale, asthmatic children suffered irreversible lung damage, or thuggish seven year olds poked it with a stick on a hot day with predictable results. On the one hand, maybe a certain element of rough-and-tumble would be missed by kids with no pets of their own. On the other hand, at least their teachers won't have to stutter their way through a child-friendly explanation of what that pink thing is, Miss after a particularly vigorous leapfrog game.

In other news, myself and the Other Half had a fabulous Friday night out, which involved dinner, beer and a heavy metal jukebox in one of our favourite pubs. Guinness drinkers will be familiar with the practice (which I never got the hang of when doing bar work) of putting a shamrock (shillelagh? what's the difference?) in the head of a pint with the slow-pouring tap. Well, in a pub frequented by pale, misunderstood sociology students and ageing rockers who really ought to know better, the Other Half was delighted to receive a pint with a pentagram on the top.

Who says goths have no sense of humour?

3 Comments:

Anonymous Other Half chimed in with...

It rocked maaaaaaaaaaaan !!!

07 August, 2005 22:16  
Blogger Steve chimed in with...

shamrock (shillelagh?) what's the difference?

One's a flower and the the other one's a weapon.

If I was attacked, late at night, by twats with shamrocks I would be infinitely happier than being attacked by twats with shillelaghs.

Honest.

11 August, 2005 01:38  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

a good point, well made. i think i thought a shillelagh was a sort of hat. which doesn't really explain why i might have confused it with a shamrock but it's not my job to justify these things.

11 August, 2005 09:20  

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