Thursday, 20 October 2011

Window Pain

Too wet for the pupils to go outside. As a teacher, you hate these days:  lid too tight on the pressure cooker. Something has to blow. The games they play. Hawking up greenies and flicking them to cling on the ceiling. The threat of petty violence - wait ‘til after school. I’ll get you… Rumpus in the corner near the windows. Ishy Isherwood, the best looking boy in the school, somehow manages to bust a pane. A collective whoosh, intake of breath and the sudden silence that only shock can bring.

Decisive action. The boy turns on his heel and leaves the room. He’s going to confess to his crime. No lying, no waiting for someone else to grass him up. Straight to the Headmaster’s office situated near the dinner hall that smells of something hard to describe but stays with you forever. ‘Come in.’ The Headmaster wears a gown and has a walrus moustache. He comes from Wales so he speaks funny. ‘Sir it was me…’

In this bedlam a boy gets round to opening his lunch box. It’s gone very hush. They all know something bad is coming. He peels the lid from the yellow box and takes out a sandwich. A sausage escapes and lands on the polished floor. Another boy steps in it, the pink meat squirting up his heel. It leaves a splodge and no-one notices. The boy starts to eat. His neighbour, a studious looking kid with wire-rimmed glasses and a bad stutter says sh-sh-sh-shit as Mr Gordon walks in.

Gordy Gordon the maths teacher. Hippy-beard who spends his summers going out to India which was impossibly far, remote as Mars or the Moon and not the Ibiza where the more fortunate families chose to go. Gordy Gordon with his garlic breath like a gas leak. The room is silent. Gordy sees the sausage squashed on the floor as the boys all scrape their chairs to attention. ‘You boy, get the caretaker.’

He places his hands high up on his hips and his nose whistles as he breathes in deep looking at the cracked pane. ‘What happened here?’ A hand goes up.

                ‘Sir, it was Isherwood, Sir.’

 Cully the caretaker clatters in with a mop and galvanised pale and a mop. His complexion is brown like an Italian which makes no sense in this cold corner of the country. His head is fascinatingly bald. The sausage gets eradicated by soapy water. Gordy leaves and an outbreak of talking starts.

As the bell rings to signify the end of lunch the chairs scrape again as the form teacher arrives. He’s gaunt looking with longish hair and a beak for a nose. Cigarette smell. You could hear a pin drop. All eyes are on him. He raises an eyebrow to signal that it’s okay to sit down. A girl makes the mistake of trying to say something to her partner. The wooden board rubber is launched as a missile and bounces off the desk in front of her. Shut it the teacher says.

Later the boy who dropped the sausage learnt that a bill for the window was to be sent to Ishy’s parents who were hardworking farmers and would probably whack him for it. The Headmaster caned Ishy in his study that afternoon.


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