Bill P. Godfrey et al

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Truancy for beginners

In my youth during seconadry school (aged 11-16), I avoided school on many occasion. Not maths, english, science or anything useful, but PE? and games.

Those who are have seen me (and I'm not hard to spot) will know that I probably could have done with more exercise, having retained my bulk into adult life. But alas, I really didn't get on with the teachers and I didn't like the sports on offer.

One of my elder brothers was rather good at Rugby? and when they heard that I was coming along to the same school, they were (so I've been told) quite excited and I was already on the team before they even met me. Then they met me and they observed exactly how incredibly unfit I was. I must have been a disappointment. They persevered and the whole class did Rugby. (Was it for me or whould we have done it anyway, I don't know.)

Whilst I enjoyed tackling, the rest of the game wasn't much fun for me. Lots of aimless running about getting nowhere. Even after the indignity of the game, I had to put up with indignity of the showers.

If I ever get the opportuniy to destroy any part of my old school, I would choose the showers. A shy self concious flabby teenager being told to go shower with six other boys with no separating walls between us. I quickly worked out that the standard issue shorts were waterproof, so I could take my underwear off and and quickly put the shorts back on before I go shower.

For these tricks, one thing tipped me over into the criminal world of trunacy. I hadn't finished my maths homework. I wouldn't have enough time during "break", but the 90 minutes of games time would be perfect. My first ever criminal act, I went to the school library instead. (Oooooooh. I'm such a bad boy!)

The following week, I turned up to games as usual, expecting trouble. No-one had noticed that I was missing. Wow! The perfect crime!

Could I get away with it again? Three weeks later, I didn't need the time for anything useful, but reading something sounded more productive than grudgingly playing Rugby followed by shower humiliation.

For a year and a half, I would take time off on odd occasions. Some old routine, use the toilets and merge into a passing crowd which would regularly walk past the library.

It couldn't last. One week, busted. Someone noticed I wasn't there that one week. I was kept back after school for an hour the following day. When we started, the games teachers had told us (with glee) that their detentions can be a lot harder than other detentions, as they can make us do exercises.

So, was there a way to get out of games without getting the full sadistic detention? For about a year, I had a big amenesia problem, as I kept forgetting to bring my sports kit in, week after week. No punishments, I just had to sit on at sidelines. That worked until they started the detentions for those who didn't bring thier kit in.

With time, I was just bloody-minded and stubborn. I would turn up, get changed, and go on the field, nothing else. I was on the field and I was taking part, that was all that mattered. I didn't want to be there and everyone knew it, but I was present and that was all that mattered. If I was in a particularly bad mood, I might try scoring against my own side, but no-one noticed as I was really bad at the game.

Finally, with only one year of compulsory education to go, a solution was found. They called it "outdoor pursuits", walking, target shooting, driving, etc. Perfect. All run by the mad metalwork teacher. Couldn't they have offered this four years earlier?


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