l JUST recently, the news seems full of reports on the bad behaviour of schoolchildren in the U.K., culminating with the terrible knife attack on a young girl. Everyone tries to find a solution, cause; is it the parents, teachers, lack of authority allowed schools? Who knows, probably a combination of many things, but one recent headline caught my attention, where a geography teacher was accused of snogging with a 15-year-old pupil. Now this took me back to my school years at that age, (mid 1950s) and I remembered my geography teacher. He was Captain Stafford, ex of the Ghurkas. Not only did he teach, but was the gym master and commander of the cadet force. He ruled with a rod of iron and as I recall, we were, at times, a bit of a handfull, but he had that something that earned our total respect, even if we hated him. There was, however, a force on the horizon to cut the captain down to size. During our youth, fat children especially (and adults in general), were th exception to the rule. In fact, at our age level/classes (four of 30 boys each), I can only recall one. He was however, memorable, being quite round and huge. I can only imagine his misey when attending the two gym classes held each week (apart from half-day sports outside) especially at the hands of the Ghurka captain. Last one out of the changing rooms gets the cricket bat across the backside was the captain's promise, and always it was rotund Sinclair who got it, on his way to pure hell: wall bars, vault - you name it, it was nigh on impossible for him, and Stafford poured on the scorn. However, as they say, every dog has his day and it was when the boxing season started, a small measure of justice was restored. For training/sparring, boys would pair off, height, weight similarities, but of course no one could match the kilos of Sinclair. So the captain, with a gleam in his eye would tell Sinclair he would be his sparring partner and Sinclair's shoulders would slump in anticipation of more humiliation. There in the ring wa the gym master, lean, mean and rumour had it, ex champ of his company with, in the other corner the worst (if largest) example of sporting youth. Sinclair, only wishing to get the inevitable over as soon as possible, tightly closed his eyes, launched himself at his hated tormentor standing in loose, relaxed way in the centre of the ring, and Sinclair, eyes shut and arms/fists windmilling from south to north shot out of his corner. Captain Stafford, totally surprised at this most unorthodox approach, hesitated a few fatal seconds, and one windmilling gloved hand from the blind Sinclair landed right on the crown jewells. Sinclair ended up on the other side of the ring before opening his eyes to an incredible sight, which every other boy in the gym was (secretly) enjoying: Captain Stafford on his knees gasping for breath, quite white in the face. No punishment, accidents do happen, he retired to his little office with a parting, gasped carry on training, not to reappear until the end of the class. Sinclair was hero for a day (his only one in six years of school) and I wonder which geography teacher gave the more memorable moment, the recently reported lady and the snogging incident, or Captain Stafford on his knees!
Graham Phillips, Palma de Majorca