Friday, 28 February 2014

Six Of The Best

Fergie got belted. It's in the newspapers and on the wireless this morning. Alex got the belt off his teachers at Broomloan Rd School for fighting in the playground and suchlike, and one of them gave him the belt with such determination, personality and energy, that it turned him into a world class football manager, capable of hairdrying his team with a force familiar to all who frequent Govan's streets.

Round the table tonight, we reminisce on the good old days of corporal punishment. 
What did you get the belt for? 
Forgetting books, forgetting to get books covered, forgetting homework, forgetting a note for an absence and - something I got caught at a coupla times - forging a note.
"Tillie Tells A Tale" got the belt on an almost daily basis for . . . you guessed it - talking.
Eric got a hefty belting for running a card school at the back of the science lab - not before he'd done well out of it though.

A common offence was answering nature's call. You put your hand up and asked to be excused. The teacher would say, "On you go, but when you come back, you will be belted." 
You had to weigh up which would cause the most discomfort. Most people chose to visit the lavvy cos it gave you a chance to get out of the class for five minutes. 
One morning, the heidie came into our classroom and spoke in a hushed tone to the teacher, all the while casting his eyes malevolently up and down the single rows where we sat.
Then he summoned 8 year old William to the front. He got belted twice in front of us all by the headmaster because he had urinated on the floor and on the seat of the stinky outside toilets.

Headmasters had the most heavily weighted belts and routinely adminstered beltings to the bad boys, including Sammy M in my class. Young Samuel, always set off with a show of bravado and came back blowing on his hands to cool the pain, tears rolling down his cheeks.

The sting was tremendous, probably due to the salt and pepper the heidie sprinkled on it.

Edward got belted on his first day of secondary. The teacher asked who didn't have a pen and he put up his hand, thinking that one would kindly be given to him.
Eh, naw. Him and the other pen-less pupils got lined up and belted.
From that day onward, he got belted every day, at least once, until he left in fourth year.
His most memorable belting was at a snowy lunchtime. He was pounding his pals with snowballs and a few went astray and hit a car and a girl. Edward got hauled inside and belted x 6. There he stood in the corridor, just wearing a jumper, shirt and trousers, his hair wringing, his feet soaked and his hands stinging with pins and needles. The radiator was glowing against the wall and Edward seized the chance to reach out to it to soothe his aching palms. Aaarrgh! The heat on his freezing hands magnified the agony ten fold and left him with tears in his eyes.

Donny's physics teacher belted each and every one of his pupils on the day before the belt was banned in the 1980s. Class that day was just waiting in a queue to get the belt before it became illegal to use it. 
Funnily enough, in our 1970s class debates about the belt, I remember most of us pupils being in favour of keeping it. We must have had an inkling of what would happen if it was taken away.
And, turns out we were right.

Everyone agrees the PT department really did stand for Physical Torture. Those teachers were pretty vicious - although we can all think of science teachers, and maths teachers, and English teachers, and history teachers who can rival them. Not so much music teachers, or art of course; too woolly.

Again, you had to weigh up the discomfort of gym activities against getting the belt for forgetting your gym kit.
Best story of the night from Robert. He broke his arm and it was in a plaster cast. Double PE loomed and it was swimming. I'll have to sit it out thinks he, and so doesn't pack his swimming gear. 
At the poolside, the teacher orders those who don't have their kit to line up. 
"Ye're getting belted," he roars. 
"Sir, Ah've broke ma erm," says Robert confidently.
"Just put the one hand up then!" is the reply and the Lochgelly tawse swishes smartly through the air.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Pot Black

A blowy night, sharp and cold, is disturbed by noise in the backcourt. A boy's voice roars, hoarse and hollow, sounding so close that it merits a nosey from behind the bedroom curtain. A quick twitch and he's spotted just 10 feet below. And, it seems he's looking right up at our window!
He's dressed in blue from cap, through trackies, to trainers. His ratty face wears a malevolent smirk, his narrow eyes dart up and down the building. A tinkle of breaking glass sends him skipping in towards the back door of the close.
As if by magic, just a moment later, he appears right across the backs dreepying down from out a close window opposite us.
He races back to our building and stops dead, draws back and stares resolutely at the window, then chucks a billiard ball, bang, smash, through the glassy pane of the landing window.
Peely wally, pinched, narrow, snivelling, sneering; this is a sad state of affairs.
Footsteps are heard racing, thumping on the stairs, first up and then down, and then all falls quiet.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Only One Till On

You have to make the best of a queue, and that's what Karen's determined to do.
"We've been in this queue nearly two weeks. It's far too long, there's only wan till on," she complains, but with a smile, checking our faces to see if we're on board.
"Some people's even goat businesses t'run," and she nods at Berd, "like, you look like a very respectable lady."
"Me?" questions Berd adjusting her posh scarf.
"Aye. You do," is the firm reply. And she leans in, dead chummy, warm and friendly.

The conversation widens to include Moira behind us who says to Karen, "You look dead like somebody I know."
"Aw, see me, Ah've got hunners a doppelgangers. Aw o'er the place," and she announces this fact loudly to the queue, "hunners a doppelgangers, me."
"It's ma daughter's pal you look like." says Moira.
"You've goat a daughter! You're dead lucky."
"Aye, as soon as Ah had a daughter, Ah just thought, that's me, Ah'm havin nae mair. You smell nice," she continues across me to Karen who bursts into a peal of laughter.
Right enough, the air is redolent of sweet fruits and flowers.
"Ah, hahahaha! That's vodka yer smellin'!"
"Naw, naw, it's a nice perfume."
Karen dissolves into a fit of the giggles. "That's cos Ah was splashin it oan to cover up the smell a drink, alcohol. Ah put oan a pure ton a it."
"Well it's nice," we all say, "eau de smirnoff."
"Sorry aboot ma voice," Karen says, introducing a new topic to our conversation. "Ah've goat laringytis." And here her husky tones ascend a couple of octaves, "Usually I've got a wee sweet voice," and then she descends into a cackle. "Fallin tae bits, look at ma hauns. See that's rheumatics."
And she holds out the backs of her hands with swollen veins.
Moira leans over to her, "You're a bit young for that. Are you sure it's no," and she whispers right into Karen's ear something about shooting up at which Karen exclaims, "Naw, naw, naw, Ah don't dae anything like that."
She holds the hands out again for inspection. Swollen veins and bitten fingernails.
"That's rheumatics. No arthur-itis. Arthur-itis makes them like that," and she twists her hands into grotesque claws.