Tag Archives: school

The Harvest Festival

7 Sep

I attended a Church of England primary school, and every year the school would put on a Harvest Festival. This involved the whole of the school (plus any parents who wanted to attend), piling into the local church where we would listen to the vicar drone on for an hour or so, sing hymns, and the big finale; every child had to give a ‘gift’ to the church, which was then donated to charity. Now, this gift couldn’t be any old thing; it had to be food, and in a bottle or can, as it was packed up and sent to a poor African country. A nice sentiment I’m sure you’ll agree.
I always forgot about the Harvest Festival until I was kust out of the door to go to school, and then I’d see other kids carrying their gift proudly with them. I’d run back inside and my mum would search the back of the cupboards and find anything that she could so that I would have something to donate. I remember taking a tin of peaches one year, a can of sardines the next, and to my shame, one year I donated a pot noodle.

 

The gift giving ceremony was always the last part of the Harvest Festival. Everyone would sing a hymn called ‘We Plough The Fields And Scatter’, whilst each year group would file out from their pews, walk up to the front of the church, and then leave their individual gift on one of three huge tables, before making their way back to where they were sat. There were strict instructions from teachers on how fast we were allowed to walk (not too quick and not too slow), and we had to have a ‘serious face’. As each child got up from their seat, the rest of the school would watch eagerly to see what they had brought in; eyeing up to see who the biggest cheapskate was or what the strangest item would be. Memorable items include one can of Tesco Value beer, cans of Spam, a bag of Opal Fruits (as they were called back in the good old days), a bag of walnuts and a can of Irn Bru.

As there were so many children, and a total of seven age groups, we would have to sing the same hymn at least three times through, bizarrely stopping as soon as the last child from year 7 (the oldest year group) had sat down. This meant that we could be halfway through a verse and then we’d just suddenly stop, much to my amusement. We would then say a final prayer, whilst most of the children would be looking at the piles of cans of tomatoes, hotdogs and prunes that had been amassed for the African children.

 

My fondest memory of Harvest Festival is from when I was in year 6, so I was about 11 years old. A boy in my class called Andrew bought in a can of Vimto to donate. I’m sure it’s what every African child would have wanted.
As the teacher took registration, we all had our donations out on our tables, and we immediately spotted Andrew’s Vimto. As Andrew was quite unpopular anyway, the teasing soon began over his choice of gift.

 

“It was all I had at home. I forgot it was the festival today”, was his response, and it was a response I could relate to. I was ok this year, I had a tin of tuna with me. I’d gone upmarket for a change.

 

The teasing about the can of Vimto continued as we made our way to the church. It’s funny how the smallest of things can amuse young minds. The festival began, and it was boring as usual, with each and every child waiting eagerly to get the donating his or her foodstuff out of the way, so we could actually go back to school. I sat with my mates pretending to sing the words to the hymn, watching as each year group got up and filed slowly to the front of the church, waiting for our turn. I then heard whispers behind from me. We looked round, and a few of the other boys in my class were sat on their pew, still taking the piss out of Andrew. I heard Rat-catcher Neil say, “God’s going to think you’re a dickhead for bringing that in”, and when Andrew told him to ‘Fuck Off’, Leigh jumped in with “Fucking Hell, Andrew. No need to get eggy about it”. They laughed, and Andrew was visibly rattled.

 

As the hymn started again for the third time, it was almost my year groups time to walk up to the donation tables. We got ready, and as the row of children in front of us took their seats, we stood up and started walking to the front. It was quite an uncomfortable experience, as it did feel like everyone was just staring at you, looking at your donation or seeing if you’d do something stupid. This year, their stares were rewarded in spectacular fashion.
As I, and the other 7 pupils that were on my pew, placed our gifts down on the tables at the front of the church, I heard a loud pattering of feet. I turned my head to look over my shoulder, just in time to see Andrew in the midst of falling over. It seemed to go in slow motion. His legs slid back from beneath him, his body started to fall forwards towards the hard church floor. As he reached out his hands to break his fall, the can of Vimto flew from his hand, and smashed against one of the tables, spraying purple liquid all over the table and into the air. It landed on the floor by Andrew, who was now horizontal, staining his white shirt.

 

We were in fucking hysterics, but still the hymn droned on, and we giggled all the way back to our seats, despite numerous glares from the teachers. I was struggling so hard to regain my composure and I still wasn’t sure how he’d managed to fall over. Andrew picked himself up and made his way back to his seat; head bowed as he walked. Most of the school were watching him, sniggering. As he sat down, Rat-catcher Neil looked him up and down.

 

“I told you God would think you’re a dickhead for bringing that”, he said, laughing to himself, and the rest of us all started pissing ourselves again.

Cool Runnings

7 Sep

It was 1994 and the Winter Olympics were in full swing in Lillehammer, Norway. Being only 10, I didn’t really have much interest in it and neither did the rest of my class; we were more concerned about playing Cops and Robbers, putting upturned drawing pins onto each other’s chairs and singing the wrong words to hymns in assembly. Playtimes were spent swapping Panini Football Stickers (with a shiny was worth AT LEAST 2 normal stickers), trying to push one another into the thorn bush and or sticking ‘itching powder berries’ down the back of someone’s shirt. Life was good; I had no worries in the world and not a great deal of homework to contend with at that age – as long as I went home with a new sticker for my Panini album, I was happy.

My teacher at the time was Mr.Marsh; feared by many, he was the only male teacher at my primary school. His booming voice would stop a misbehaving child in his or her track. Some were known to have spontaneously wet themselves after being shouted at. Now, Mr. Marsh was not an ordinary teacher. He would try and make learning fun; we listened to every word as he spoke, such was the enthusiasm of the man. We’d already completed a class project earlier in the year where we had various ‘airports’ dotted around the classroom, complete with toy planes. Daily timetables were drawn up and it was up to the ‘Air traffic Controller’ and ‘Pilot’ (specified daily) to move the correct planes, at the correct time, to the correct airport. It was not unusual to see children wandering about in the middle of a maths lesson, to move a toy plane to its next destination. This taught us geography and time management skills apparently. I didn’t care – it was fun.

Mr. Marsh also loved sport. Not only did he teach us in year 5, but he doubled as the PE teacher for the whole of the school. He was sport mad, so to him, the Winter Olympics were a big deal. I remember the beaming smile on his face as he broke the news to us about our next class project one morning.

“Class”, he started, his deep voice bouncing off the walls of the classroom, “for our next class project, we will be holding a bobsleigh tournament. You will work on your own and will compete against each other”

Our ears pricked up. Even the cool kids at the back of the class stopped whispering and passing notes.

“We will build a bobsleigh track in the classroom. Not a full size one for you to race down, but one that will fit a matchbox car. The only rule is, your matchbox car will have to look like a bobsleigh. You will have to use card and any other materials you want, to make the correct shape, decorate it in the colours of any nation you choose, and attach it to your car. We will then hold time trials to see who is the bobsleigh champion. We will build the course this week and time trials will be Monday and Tuesday of next week”. It was Mr. Marsh’s own little way of getting a class of 10 year olds interested in the Winter Olympics.

We couldn’t believe our luck – we were going to be coming to school to race our cars! Even the girls in the class didn’t seem fussed by this. I was over the moon; a keen collector of matchbox cars, I was sure I had the perfect car to beat all the opposition.
The course was built over the next few days. Mr. Marsh provided a plastic track from some sort of toy car race track (Hotwheels or something similar). This was attached to wall at the side of the classroom, running down at quite a steep angle so that the cars could pick up speed. It was about 7-8 metres long, then doubled back on itself sharply, and ran along some desks that were pushed together alongside the wall. The first part of our project was to decorate the wall with a winter Olympic theme, complete with spectators. I think Neil drew a yeti somewhere in the background. This was the boring part on the project. On the Friday, we all had to bring in the car that we wanted to use in the bobsleigh tournament. Mr.Marsh supplied those who hadn’t got one (mainly the girls) with a car from his collection. I carefully cut out two shapes that vaguely represented the side profile of bobsleigh, and blu-tacked them to the side of my car, which was a black Porche if I recall correctly. I had chosen this because the wheels seemed to go the best out of all of my collection. I gave my bobsleigh the number 12, and coloured it in black, green and yellow; the colours of Jamaica. We were even allowed to oil up the wheels of our cars – It was one of the best days of school ever. I actually wanted the weekend to go quickly, as Monday was the day for testing our cars on the track and making any modifications if required, ready for the time trials on Tuesday. Most of the class couldn’t wait either and a friendly rivalry had already sprung up amongst classmates.

Monday came, and one by one, we were allowed to take our car to the top of the track and release it, seeing how well it performed. Giving the car a push was not permitted. I waited with great anticipation for my turn; my surname begins with ‘W’ so I was one of the last as we were going in alphabetical order. I was sure that the other kids would be so jealous when they saw how fast my car went. Finally my time came and I stepped up, make-shift bobsleigh in hand. I let go and it whizzed down the track at some speed, much faster than most. When it came to the curved bend, the bobsleigh almost shot over the top. ‘Ah, skills’ I thought to myself, ‘I can win this’. My main competitor, from what I could tell, would be a girl named Sarah Bow, who’s bobsleigh had also nearly left the track, such was the speed of it. I hadn’t noticed anyone other bobsleigh do this. I went home Monday a happy child, brimming with confidence about the following days competition.

Tuesday came and it was the final day of our Winter Olympic project, the day that we’d all been waiting for – the race competition. Excited voices filled the classroom that morning, every child was confident that their bobsleigh would win. I kept quiet; I knew that it was a two horse race between myself and Sarah Bow. After class registration, we had an opening ceremony. Every competitor had to go to the front of the classroom, say an interesting fact about the country they were representing and place their bobsleigh on the desk before returning to their seats. Mr. Marsh waited until the 25 or so small bobsleighs were lined up, and declared that we would be starting the day with a history lesson; competition would commence after break. What a tease.

We came into class after break time and the competition started. All did not go according to plan. The first couple of bobsleighs seemed to ‘stick’ to the track and wouldn’t go down it. Closer examination revealed that there was a cheat amidst us; the wheels of the toy cars had been stuffed with blu-tac. Picking up my car I noticed the same thing had been done to mine and the wheels were slightly bent. I was quite distraught – my hopes of winning the competition had been dashed. Mr. Marsh hit the fucking roof!
“Who has decided to cheat and ruin this for everyone?”. The walls shook such was the ferocity in his voice. No-one owned up, no-one daren’t look up; every child in the class had their eyes fixated on their desk. Mr. Marsh was clearly disappointed that someone would do such a thing. He explained that he would ‘come down like a ton of bricks’ on the person responsible for cheating, should he find out who had done it. Fortunately, such was his love for this project, he let us have until lunch time to fix our bobsleighs and competition would restart in the afternoon.

Rumours circulated during lunch break about who the phantom tamperer could be. One name kept springing up; Sarah Bow. Rat-Catcher Simon told me that he had seen her go back into the class during break time and a couple of other kids confirmed this. For me, that was enough evidence. She was a competitive little cow – it was widely known that her mum had completed her Mozart project earlier in the year and she had taken all the plaudits, as well as the book token first prize. I was fuming. My bobsleigh had no chance of winning, the bent wheels meant that it was now one of the slowest. If I couldn’t win, I was going to make sure that Sarah Bow couldn’t either.

I scoffed my lunch down faster than usual and left the canteen. I made my way towards our classroom, pausing only briefly for a quick sip from the water fountain – my throat was dry; I was going to do something devious, but I didn’t know what. The classroom door was open slightly, and peeking through I saw that the room was empty. Outside, I could see other members of my class playing ‘Tag around the bush’ and Mr. Marsh watching over the playground, wearing really tiny PE shorts. I entered the room and pushed the door shut behind me. On the desk in front of me were all the bobsleighs. My eyes scanned the desk quickly, looking for Sarah Bow’s, all the while I was listening intently for any sounds of someone coming. If I got caught it would ruin me, my reputation would be in tatters as I would surely have been prime suspect as the phantom tamperer.

I saw Sarah Bow’s bobsleigh, (a red and white one, I think it was Canada) and I grabbed it in my hand. I examined it –not a trace of any damage to the wheels; she must have tampered with everyone else’s, I was sure of it. What I did next still confuses me to this day. Not really knowing what to do with the bobsleigh, I dropped my trousers and inserted it into my anus. Now, this was the first time I’d ever put anything up there (not that I’ve put anything else up there since), and I was surprised by how quickly it slipped up once I’d got the nose of the car in. ‘Wow, it’s like it’s actually driving up me’ I remember thinking. At the time I was worried that our pockets or bags would be searched once Sarah discovered her bobsleigh was missing, so my arsehole was the only place where I could safely hide it. Once composed, I went into the playground and joined my friends, my bum pulsating slightly.

An upbeat vibe filled the classroom upon our return after lunch. Even Mr. Marsh seemed to have calmed down and was eager to start the competition. I stayed calm, I was perspiring slightly but I kept my cheeks clenched tightly, my stolen prize stayed put. I knew that Sarah Bow would go mental when she discovered her bobsleigh was missing.

To cut a long story short, she broke down in tears when it came to her go and she couldn’t compete. I think Mr. Marsh may have had his suspicions about her already, he just shrugged and said, “You must have misplaced it”. My heart swelled with pride and my buttocks ached with pain – I had stopped Sarah Bow winning and it was just what she deserved. I think Andrew ‘Carrot Nose’ Littlejohn won the competition in the end. I came in the bottom 3, but I wasn’t fussed. The highlight of the whole project for me was seeing Sarah Bow’s devious little plan all come unhinged. I waddled home that afternoon content with the world and had the most refreshing poo of my life to date. The Canadian bobsleigh slid slowly out of me and I picked it from the toilet bowl with some tissue paper and buried it in the garden.

An Overheard Secret

30 Aug

There was a boy who joined my school at the start of the term as we moved into Lower Sixth Form. As he had not been at our secondary school from years 8-11, along with the fact he was socially awkward (plus shy, a geek, wore glasses, had big teeth, loved Freddy Mercury and drama), meant he was an easy target for the bullies/’cool’ kids. For the first couple of weeks of term, he’d be at the receiving end of most of their ‘practical jokes’; and the other new members of class would join in, as if to distract from the fact that they were new as well.

Nathan was his name, but he was soon known by all as ‘Twaz’ (bizarrely because he once said ‘‘twas’ instead of ‘it was’) and then this was lengthened to ‘Twazim Akram’ once it was discovered that he liked cricket quite a bit.

It just so happened that Twaz was on my school bus, and we soon developed a bit of a friendship. I’d chat to him in the mornings on the way to school, and stop and talk to him if we crossed paths walking to lessons. On numerous occasions I’d go and chat to him during break and lunch times if I saw him standing alone, as he’d only made two friends at the school, who were of similar ilk to Twaz. It wasn’t out of pity either, I found him charming and interesting, and as Twaz’s confidence grew, it became a great spectacle for me watching him give witty ripostes to the lads that tried to mock him.

I’d just like to point out that I was by no means one of the ‘cool’ kids at school , and was in no way taking Twaz ‘under my wing’ so to speak; but I was fortunate enough to be able to flit between the different social groups that develop at school. It meant that I didn’t get the piss ripped out of me for stopping and chatting to Twaz, and the negative attention he received when he first joined the school soon died down.

Three months into term, Twaz came up to me during lunch break.

“It’s my birthday on Friday night and I wondered if you’d like to come round to mine? I’ve asked Dan and Dominic (his other two mates) as well. They’ll be a bit of food and some drink. My parents are away as well. You don’t have to if you don’t want to”

“Sure, why not?!” I replied. I had no other plans, and I liked the bloke, it was fine by me.

“Thanks”, replied Twaz, “I’ll let you know the details later on. Can you not let them lot know please? They’ll only take the piss out of me.”

 I knew who he meant by ‘them lot’. “Course not”, I replied, and with that Twaz walked off.

That afternoon in Business Studies, Twaz came over to my desk. In hushed tones, he told me to get to his for about 7.30pm, and he told me his address. As he lived in the same town as me, I knew where he lived straight away. Then he told me that he was making 3 different curries for us to eat. Result! I fucking love curry!

“I’ll be there, mate”.

“BE WHERE? PARTY IS IT?”. Fuck. One of the twats in the class had heard most of the conversation and began to broadcast it to the rest of the room. He knew the time, the address; every detail, the nosey fucking bastard.

“I didn’t want you lot to know”, protested Twaz, downbeat. “It was meant to be a secret”.

“Awww, bless”. The teasing commenced.

The next two days were rife with rumours that loads of the sixth form were going to turn up to the ‘house party’. Friday came and I let Twaz know that I would still be coming to his, along with Dan and Dominic. All day, people kept winding Twaz up, saying things like ‘See you at half seven’ and ‘can’t wait for your party’. That evening I turned up at his, at he invited me in. Well fuck me; the food looked, and indeed tasted amazing, and there was a lot of beer and wine on offer – he’d pulled out all the stops. Conversation was pretty awkward as I didn’t know the other two that well, but I was glad I had turned up. I’d been there about 45 minutes, when the doorbell went. Twaz went to answer it, and I peered from the living room towards the front door.

FUCK.ME.

There, at the front door, stood about 40 people from the school. The tranquil, social gathering of 4 went to loud , chaotic house party and carnage ensued within minutes. The music was turned up, his parents alcohol cupboard was instantly raided, and despite Twaz and I trying to control the situation, there were far too many already drunk teenagers for us to be able to much to calm their behaviour. In the next hour or so, curry was chucked over the walls and carpets, someone pissed in the microwave, numerous people were wandering around in his mum’s clothes, the back window got cracked, cigarettes got put out on the carpet, a trifle got launched down the stairs – you get the idea; as much damage as possible, teenagers being utter arseholes. Twaz was in tears, and I felt sorry for him, and also guilty because it was our conversation that had been overheard. The destruction only stopped when the neighbour called the police to complain about the noise. I stayed behind to help clear up, but we were fighting a losing battle, and Twaz knew he’d have to tell his parents what had happened when they arrived home the next Sunday. I wished him well and left, wondering to myself how people can be such fucking idiots. I felt sad that not only Twaz’s house been ruined, but his birthday too.

I’ll sum up what happened in the aftermath of this:

–   Twaz got a bollocking off his parents, and got grounded for a month.

–   He invited me, Dominic and Dan around again 3 weeks later when his parents were away again, and whilst he was still grounded. I accepted. When I got to his house, he’d pulled all the carpets up, put Clingfilm over every single wall and locked anything of any value in the garden shed, just ‘in case someone found out about it again’, as he put it.

–   The house party went on to be the making of Twaz. People thought he was a legend and no longet took the piss out of him. A couple of months after the event, he won the school ‘Stars in Their Eyes’ style talent show, with a rousing rendition of Radio Gaga.

Teenagers can be a fickle bunch.

Swim Class

7 Jul

Picture the scene; a group of 9-10 year olds, all shivering, teeth chattering as the teacher tries to encourage them to swim into the depths of the murky water and retrieve the rubber block from the crusty veruca laden pool floor. The children are pale, and try mercifully to dodge any dead insects that may happen to float past their open mouths as they come hastily to the surface for an intake of oxygen. We’ve all been there, and whether it be the horrible water we were made to swim in, the weird green water we had to stand in before entering the pool, or trying to sneak a peek through the cracks in the changing rooms to catch the opposite sex stark bollock naked, we’ve all got different memories about swim class at school.

I hated swimming – there was no pleasure to be taken from getting into freezing cold water whilst receiving orders from a miserable teacher, who wanted to be inside as much as I did. It was on about my third of fourth swim class of the year that this story happened, and it is one that I look back on with mixed emotions. On this particular day, it was raining and windy, yet we were made to go swimming anyway. The water actually felt warm for once; probably because it was so cold in the old, wooden shack that passed for a changing room. I remember feeling as if I could crimp off a poo before I entered the water, but not wanting to make my excuses to go to the toilet, I kept quiet. ‘It isn’t that strong an urge’ I thought to myself, and so I just clenched as tightly as I could as I tried to do a length of the pool in unison with half of my class mates. This is more difficult when you’re all doing backstoke, and arms and heads are colliding with one another, as well as the sides of the pool. When I finally reached the other end, the ‘slight urge’ to poo, had now become a desperate one.

I still don’t know why I didn’t ask to go to the toilet – probably the fact that everyone would know I was off to lay a brown bog trout, so I stood in the waist high water and crossed my legs, inhaling as much as I could, hoping to suck my ever-nearing poo back up into my anus. I watched as other members of the class were made to dive under the water and fetch a 10p piece, and then I felt it. Reaching around to the back of my shorts, I gently ‘cupped’ the fabric and felt the unmistakable heaviness of a fresh log. It had slipped out without warning, and I had a predicament literally on my hands. I couldn’t waddle out of the pool, with my newly acquired tail protuding proudly from the back of my shorts, so I suppose I did what any 9 year old kid would do – I pulled my shorts to the side and dangled my leg about, until my newborn dropped free. This was harder than I first thought it would be, as my swim shorts had that tight netting-like layer. I thank God that I wasn’t wearing speedos.

My plan was going well. I had released my poo, and the next step was to give it a swift kick to the side and then carry on swimming as normal, except my plan didn’t get this far. To my horror, it floated slowly, agonisingly, to the surface, spinning as it rose in the water. I turned my back on it, hoping to hide it from view. With the realisation that I was ever closer to being caught for dumping in the pool ( it was nearly my turn to dive for the 10p), I turned back to face it, and it one swift motion, scooped it out of the water and discarded it on the side of the pool, where it sat like a giant dehydrated slug until the end of the lesson. I still don’t know how I didn’t get caught, but now I make sure that I always use the toilet prior to getting in a swimming pool.

My one and only vice…

16 Sep

In technology class when I was 16, my teacher Mr. Grabowski caught me pretending to put my scrotum in a vice.

 

“Are you putting your genitals in that vice?”

“Yes, Sir”

“Are you stupid?”

“I suppose so”

“Well that’s one of the most stupid things I’ve ever seen. Putting your own genitals in a vice. Idiot.”

 

And with that, he just wandered off.

I wasn’t actually going to clamp them; I was messing about. I just like the fact that he told me it was a stupid thing to do and then fucked off. He didn’t bother asking me why I was clamping my testicles, which if I caught someone with their love pouch hovering above a vice, would be the first thing I asked.

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