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WILD COOT: Picking up garbage

HARRY RUSSELL, [email protected]

WILD COOT: Picking up garbage

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I WILL NOT CALL THE REAL NAME of the pupil lest I am sued, but I can call that of the teacher – Mr Alvin Barnett, now deceased.

Mr Barnett, our teacher, was busy demonstrating a problem on the blackboard while our boy was feeling rumbling pangs of hunger on the front bench of the third form comprising 31 pupils. The Wild Coot was at the back. Our boy took one bite of his lunch that he kept concealed in his desk. Each time Mr Barnett turned to face the class, our boy stopped chewing, an innocent look on his face. All went well as Mr Barnett was occupied with the blackboard. Our boy was feeding his hunger. Then he took a huge bite encouraged by his previous successes. One could see the delight and satisfaction in his eyes.

Suddenly Mr Barnett swung around and pointed his finger. “Don’t swallow Boyce! Don’t even swallow! On the bench! Don’t swallow! Keep your mouth open and stand on the bench until I tell you to sit.” As usual, Mr Barnett had not raised his voice.

The whole class that was aware of what Boyce was doing was shocked into amused silence. Boyce stood on the bench with his mouth wide open. Flies were aroused by the smell of the wide-open orifice with the half-chewed food and the delicious aroma. The period of the class had only just begun and Boyce was compelled to stand on the bench with his mouth wide open for about half an hour. Gentle shakes of his head did not deter the persistent flies. Meanwhile, class continued. Eventually Mr Barnett finished his demonstration on the blackboard. The school bell rang and proclaimed the break for lunch.

“Boyce, you may close your mouth now and get down from the bench. This evening after school finishes you will bring me in the Retreat 50 cigarette butts which you will pick up from the school premises.” What an order! No lines. No sending him to the headmaster (the Gaulie). No detention. Just 50 cigarette butts!

Well, you can imagine cigarette butts on the school premises! Schoolboys are not noted for smoking cigarettes. After school Boyce scoured the ample school premises looking for cigarette butts, up and down, in the toilets where maybe a boy could have hidden away and smoked; the search went on. When the fellows were going home late in the evening after playing cricket, Boyce was near the playing field waiting on the groundsman to finish his cigarette so that he could get the 50th butt.

The story comes to mind as the Wild Coot reflected on the current issue of a pupil ordered to pick up a wrapper by a teacher at school. Boyce would never again attempt to eat lunch during class. The punishment had a serious effect on Boyce. He became a model student after that. It is said that in later life he became a medical doctor.

Boyce did not ask his parents to intercede for him. He took his punishment like a man. He did not say that his parents were against having flies attack his wide-open mouth for half an hour or having to stand on the bench to the delight or disgrace of the fellow students. In those days, teachers had authority that was not questioned by pupils or parents. Perhaps Boyce was too ashamed to admit to his parents that he had been disciplined in that manner. The world is changing as the Wild Coot asserts.

This debate about flogging, about parents invading schools and having a showdown with principals and teachers is a modern day phenomenon. Once upon a time pupils were afraid to report discipline taken at school for fear of the repercussions from their parents – another cut-tail. Sorry to disagree with you, Carl!

On another subject, the sermon last Sunday, when the Wild Coot in fear of losing his “soul” dressed up and went to church, confirmed what compromise was effected in London last week. The church is one body, whether Buddhist (worshiping a golden statue), Muslim (including ISIS “beheaders”), Anglican (including paedophiles, transvestites, lesbians, “batty men”, etc.). Oh! The reading was taken from 1 Corinthians 12:12- 31. Here there is no mention of beheading and no revocation of Deuteronomy or Leviticus. Of course Paul was addressing a new dispensation.

Our politicians can learn a lot from the pulpit, including reading St Mathew’s Gospel Chapter 5 that is the greatest political speech ever given. The Wild Coot agrees with every thing said except verse 32.

• Harry Russell is a banker. Email [email protected]