from A Squandered Life / Robere '60

....Kenny never caved in and the thwacks seemed to last forever.

The principal of this school was a dark squat tubby man called Mr. Robere. He wore heavy black rimmed glasses which added to an air of menace whenever he appeared. The full extent of the man's evil was thrown into horrific relief when, one day, at an apparently agreed hour, Nelson told us all to be quiet.

As we sat expectantly we began to hear Robere out in the hall giving grief to some poor kid. At first it seemed intrusive to be listening in, but the appalling fact that this was orchestrated and that we were supposed to be listening in gradually dawned upon us. From the occasional stuttering responses I worked out that the victim was Kenny Wilson, a thoroughly likeable playground buddy of mine. I cannot remember the crime for which Kenny was being pilloried, but our horror escalated as we realised Kenny was about to get The Strap. Robere's shouting stopped and, after a moment of ominous silence, we heard the first THWACK.

I for one flinched in my seat, but it didn't end there. I think Robere was trying to make Kenny cry, but Kenny never caved in and the thwacks seemed to last forever. Even Nelson was looking decidedly uncomfortable. Eventually the drama ran its course and we returned to our class routine, but later, in the playground, we ran up to Kenny who, blinking steadily through his thick glasses, showed us his still harshly reddened hands.

Presumably the entire performance was meant to tie us more closely to the school's regime, but the outcome was completely the reverse. We admired and respected Kenny all the more whilst Robere sank further in our collective estimation to the lowest form of bully and shithead.

© 2013 Deacon Martin

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