Next in this series will be about kids kicking each other in trees, I think. I don't want to block myself by over explaining this. I want to write an experience.
When I was in "high school" we used to wear a school uniform, blazer, suit trousers, shirt, tie. I remember, partly informed by hindsight, that I always felt overdressed and out of my comfort zone in this outfit, probably by design. Not something that I'm aware of other people of the same background being aware of. Interesting, but not my point. I'm going to ask my friends about that, maybe.
I was not a Good Boy, no. No, I was not. It's all relative, but looking back, I was always a sly naughty little fucker. Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose.
Time to draw the apparently disparate threads of what I was wearing and what I was doing together.
One day I noticed that;
My inside pocket was full of stuff that I wasn't supposed to have, like chewing gum, controlled substances, cigarettes, and your mum.
There was a little hole in the seam of my pocket.
Naturally, I realised that I would be better served by ripping this seam completely, allowing all contraband to drop down into the lining of the jacket;
Sacrificing a 200cc pocket from which my cigarettes or poppers or dime bag constantly threatened to jump out and create an awkward and best avoided Incident. Instead, opening a welcoming , comforting, darkness in which my teenage sins could be concealed.
Inevitably I would be caught and punished for minor things like being hilarious, poking things that should not reasonably have been poked in the manner I had poked them, Silliness, Smelling of Smoke, Witticisms. You know, all the words I can use to seem funnier and more acceptable than I really was. I was a bit of a twat, a lot. Still am.
Here comes the main course, hope you enjoyed the starter. There is no dessert...
Two minor standard punishments at my school were "Vaughan Library". As in, a teacher would notice you unfavourably and say something like "Tiger cub, I told you twice, you irritate me, 1300, Vaughan Library". This meant, "You have ten minutes at lunch to eat, which is mercy, and I may or may not choose to observe you standing uncomfortably outside the library where the older, established, better class of teachers spend their lunch hour. You stand there. This is inconvenient for you but not for me, the punishment is indefinite. You are a bitch".
Also deployable was "Master's Corridor". Which meant, "Everything above, except you go through a little door, into the corridor where the Headmaster operates, and now you are on his radar, if he walks past and sees you. He notices shit. He will become annoyed by your repeated presence. He will inconvenience you at his pleasure and beyond my meagre powers". If this happened too often, the suits would talk about you and become more creative and expressive in messing with you. Once you reached a certain gravity on the Corridor, you spent too high a proportion of your teenage time being hassled. I managed to skate this line between getting caught and getting away without falling though the event horizon of getting fucked with constantly, but we lost good men there. For any of this to happen to females was almost unheard of. There was a certain gentility to crime and punishment that couldn't be relied upon but definitely operated as long as you stayed out of the event horizon. I remember that the admin people used to let me be late every day because they knew I had good grades and if they reported it, I would lose money from the government. A kind admin woman once said to me "OF COURSE, I'm not going to report you, if I did that, then you would have a money problem, and I would have a discipline problem." A happy memory of the kind of benign neglect that enabled me to navigate adolescence.
So, I was a repeat offender but not a lifer. The kernel of this story is simply told. Among the contraband of my jacket lining, was a copy of "Mort" by Terry Pratchett. I know not why, but I'd bought a copy that when opened to read is no more than 15cm wide by 7cm long. I read this book over and over whenever I was on the corridor, hiding it under the desk in the palm of my hand. It's a great book, I'll copy from the catbox the chat that reminded me of all this.
The kicker is, the Headmaster was a notorious disciplinarian, and for a sly little twat like me getting caught was the worst thing that could happen at school. One day he swept past me, subfusc, and said, as I looked up horrified, not only to be caught on the corridor but also clearly passing the time reading a book instead of Being Disappointed in Myself and Seeking Forgiveness from God,
"Tiger cub, I've seen you sitting with your head in your hands for the last hour"
"You are clearly suitably penitent. Go in peace, you are dismissed"
So I love that book for three reasons. Good story, good mind opener, and the best kind of alibi, which is of course one that can't be distinguished as an alibi. How I got away with the weed in my pocket, I don't know, maybe they were all high or in denial.
Thanks for reading. My time in a private school as a scholarship kid is a bit uncomfortable to write about, poor me. Let me know what you think. If you feel like this is a portrait of privilege, kindly go fuck yourself.
00:48 tiger cub - when i was a kid, i had to wear a blazer to school, uniform. you understand
00:48 i got in trouble sometimes, and had to sit on a corridor with my head suitably angled down in feigned shame. i have a copy of Mort that, open, is the size of your palm. I slit my inside blazer pocket to hide contraband, and i stashed that book for such emergencies.
00:50 andycyca - a contraband book for whenever one is feigning shame?
00:51 tiger cub - smell the flowers of the story, walk through the plot, but look at the sky, and when the ideas come, let them hit you as hard as you can
00:52 yes andycyca, precisely. you get time off for good behaviour
00:53 andycyca - I see... all books smuggled into this place sit now in bookshelves in plain sight
00:55 tiger cub - beautiful reply andy