An epic story from my school days – tripping down Memory Lane

Winds of change blasted, with hurricane force, through the cloisters and corridors of King Edward Vl Grammar School, Retford. Cries of: “The Upper Sixth are revolting” could be heard as far away as Babworth and Ordsall. The revolution was masterminded & orchestrated by a fellow pupil, named Les (pronounced Lez) was a self-confessed anarchist, who listened to ‘progressive’ music, and subscribed, methinks, to the Morning Star (official newspaper of the British Communist Party) which he red (Spell-check: Yes, I know I missed an ‘a’) every day.

Secretly convened meetings in the Reference Library, of all places, included Bib, Ray (the gay), Karl Marx, Fidel Castro & Che Guevara (pictured here – who, notably, wore his cloth “cap”).

The campaign was to include a press release and some form of demonstration against the repressive regime running the school.

The local rag was summoned, and its reporter presented with a list of grievances – topmost being the rule to do with wearing the School Cap off premises, before and after hours, and during the dinner hour. The green cloth cap, bore the schools insignia, and was worn by most of the boys with a degree of disdain. So Rule#666 was frequently challenged, & broken, especially by members of the Upper Sixth, leading to disturbing acts of retribution by members of the capitalist teaching profession, and prefects, who sucked up to the Establishment.

Those caught “capless” were either tortured – having to write out 1000 times, in best hand-writing “I shall wear my school cap at all times between home & school”  – or worse still, detained after school hours (echoes of Guantanamo Bay, here) for extra work.

Climax of the campaign was a pre-arranged ‘sit in’ after Assembly. On the set morning after being dismissed, Upper Sixth would remain steadfastly in their seats, refusing to budge. This would get the required publicity & lead to the repealing of the offensive legislation…

Mr. Charlton, our deputy head-teacher –  also known as Miser (pronounced Mizzer – and taken from the Latin meaning ‘wretch’ – from which we get our ‘miserable’) was oblivious to the cunning plot. After the proceedings of yet another boring assembly ended, Upper Sixth were given permission to leave…

At this point, refusing to “cap”-itulate to my fellow students’ “cap”-er, wishing to demonstrate my “cap”-acity for individual thought & action, and hoping to figure in any “cap”-tion of future press reports, I staged my own protest against the protest and walked out “cap in hand” – forever, earning the derisory nickname:  Al Capone !

There may be a ‘moral’ in this story – if so, I have failed to discover what it is, as yet…perhaps the wise among you may wish to enlighten me !  Comments gratefully received



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