Saturday, 3 October 2009

A Bad Man

I am a bad man at heart. And here’s an example of it.

Some twenty five years ago when I still had another job apart from writing, I was working as a teacher in a Catholic comprehensive school. After I had been there for a few years the school employed a nun in my department.

By chance it turned out that this nun was of the same order as the nuns who taught me in my primary school. I have made my opinion of the nuns in my primary school fairly clear in this blog before. See my post The Good Old Days.

When I think about the Head Teacher of my primary school I always remember one particular Assembly when the whole school were lined up after the Summer holiday. She stood foursquare on the stage and addressed us. No need for a microphone. Her voice was as sharp and clear as a bucket of water in your face on a winter’s day. ‘And are you all glad to be back at school?’ she asked.

‘Yes sister,’ we chorused. All except for a couple of brave souls at the back who replied, truthfully enough, ‘No sister.’

‘Who said no?’ she demanded sternly.

‘No one moved a muscle as she marched down the hall towards the back.

‘I said, who said no?’ she repeated.

A poor unfortunate fat boy in the back row who could never tell a lie to save his life, raised a trembling hand.

‘I will see you in my office after assembly,’ she told him.

He was caned, of course.

Anyhow, here I was in conversation with this elderly nun who, having found out that I had attended a primary school run by her order was delighted. I’d made her day. And what was the name of the Headmistress, she wanted to know?

I told her.

She clapped her hands with joy. 'Would you believe she’s still alive and going strong,’ she asked me. (I would as it happened.) ‘She’s living in our convent. Would you like to come and see her? I know she’d be delighted.’

I looked her in the eye and replied with the utmost gravity. ‘I couldn’t be certain I could keep my hands off her neck.’

The poor woman didn’t know what to do. She tried to smile but when I didn’t smile back her face fell and she mumbled something about how she supposed that schools were different in those days.

Like I say, I’m a bad man at heart.

4 comments:

Jarucia said...

Wow, that is pretty bad. The only thing I know of nuns and school comes from Pink Floyd and the movie 'Doubt', but even those two inputs make it sound pretty horrid.

You're funny for being so candid, too bad the sister couldn't understand that.

Paul Lamb said...

I don't think anyone deserves a free pass (well, maybe my sainted aunt), but this is especially true with someone who has power over the powerless, such as your headmistress had. I don't advocate an actual strangling, but I think it is perfectly appropriate for her to learn what you think of her and her methods. After all, you are no longer the child, and she should no longer be expected to be treated with deference and any respect she doesn't deserve.

I suppose she was following the "best practices" of her era, but I think being put in a position of power over the powerless can bring out the best or the worst qualities in a person.

Sue Hyams said...

I don't think it's bad. I think it's hilarious!

Brian Keaney said...

Thanks everyone.