Continuing the education of stegzy Gnomepants
Mrs Moran was already an old lady when she became my form teacher in first year Juniors. Her year began with a “show and tell” of what we had got up to since the school closed for the summer. My summer had been fairly uneventful so I gave an hour long lecture about how I’d gone on a ghost hunt with my mum and dad. This involved me describing the places I’d “visited” and what we had done to “investigate” the haunting. It was all totally made up but I had a captivated audience so I couldn’t help myself. In the end my summer sounded a lot more exciting than Jane Cunningham’s visit to Portugal and Stephanie Wilson’s birthday party. Of course this lecture singled me out as being a bit “unusual” (X-Files was yet to be invented) and would set me up for the several years of teasing and bullying that followed. My own fault really, but hey I wouldn’t be me with out it.
Mrs Moran’s class also involved the division of boys and girls so that the girls could learn Scottish dancing and the boys would play football and make “Boy’s Town”, a model town made of bits and bobs of used household objects. On the several occasions I’d “forgotten” my football kit I had to take part in Scottish Dancing which I enjoyed immensely. Boys down consisted of firestations, schools, shops, houses and what not. Not wanting to be forgotten, in my own imitable way I constructed a large skyscraper out of a multibox of KP Crisps with a glass elevator a la Towering Inferno crafted from a used bottle of Fairy Liquid. I really wasn’t doing myself any favours.
My natural scruffiness was also starting to emerge which added more layers to the evil little shits that were my class mates and like a tiny snowball rolled down a hill the teasing and spitefulness was starting to grow. In a misguided attempt to placate rising tensions Mrs Moran picked me to be one of the prefects. Unfortunately this only inflammed the wounds, kind of like dipping your freshly cut hand into a bowl of raw sewage.
The proximity of my house to the school (a good 20 minute walk away. Uphill) and the early morning depatures of my mum and dad for work meant that I would often get to school early. This was ok as I would spend time in, Mr Foy, the caretaker’s office which was always nice and warm and recently refurbished. The new headmaster, Mr McBride, had seen to it that his first major project would be to have the nasty horrid toilets refurbished and Mr Foy got a new room. Unfortunately this room would prove to be near fatal to Mr Foy in the future, as I will relate at a more appropriate time.
The year also saw the arrival of the legendary Paul Melvin. Paul was often found to be “down by me nans” (his words) after school, playing football very well and had a partiality for cheese and onion crisps, the artificial flavourings of which caused him to grow flaps of skin in the corners of his lips and give him the worst halitosis you can possibly imagine. I often wonder what happened to Paul. I imagined him to become a top footballer but his lack of publicity means he either became an accountant or is languishing in prison for the great Cheese and Onion Crisp Hiest of 1997. It also saw the arrival of Dominic Smith, a curious child who became a good friend through those turbulent times. His sister Catherine used to fancy me rotten and would show off her rude bits for a pound. Of course I was too naive to notice that she fancied me and when her feelings pointed out I was non-too impressed as girls were icky.
Mrs Morans task, like Mrs Kelly had done the preparations the year before her, was to finally put us through our First Holy Communion. It was a grand affair and a really warm May. The girls wore white dresses, some really lacy and ornate like wedding dresses and the boys wore black trousers, white shirt and a red tie. It was a most solemn occasion especially as we all processed down the “secret” ramp (schools disabled access) to the church with our hands together in prayer. o_0 On reflection the whole thing seems completely bonkers now. Afterwards, for a treat, there was a huge party with all manner of sugary foods, crisps and meat paste sandwiches. By today’s standards the party would probably have been banned by the healthy eating nazi’s and there would have been sticks of cucumber and leaves of lettuce. But no, this was the early 80’s, we were still living off Mrs Beaton and Fanny Craddock recipes, and so a fine tooth decaying feast was laid out for us all.
1981-82 also saw:-
– the construction of the new Sainsbury’s in the village. Something that, at the time, received huge opposition from the village shop keepers claiming that their businesses would suffer and that they could not compete with such a consumer giant. These concerns were poo-pooed and the supermarket constructed on the site of the old village abattoir.
– me getting a Vic20 for christmas, Paul Midgely and Christian Keane getting a ZX81 and David “Daddy is a governor” Griffiths got a shiny new BBC B. It was rumoured that Duncan Nealey had an Apple though I suspect this was of the edible kind.
– Riots in Toxteth, Liverpool. My dad, being in the police, was drafted in to assist only to break his arm in the riot van while shielding his face from an incoming brick.
But worse was on the horizon in the form of the dark, sinister, menopausal cloud of Mrs Slack and seriously, you did not want to get on her wrong side….as I found out to my cost.
To be continued.