Digression 1 - A Couple of Scrapes

Foreman: I've just got to digress a little bit here about Mrs.(Joan) Horne. When I first went to secondary school (Chipping Campden Grammar / Comprehensive) I managed to create a bit of a reputation for myself by gaining the distinction of being given the cane on my very first day at school. We were billeted if that's the right word, in one of a couple of huts outside the main building. Well, in the morning break I managed to break a window during some horseplay with "Rusty" Hart and then in the lunch break, when I was running along the top of a row of desks, (as one does) this daft fat girl who was one of our class opened one of the lids just as I got to her desk and I put my foot straight through the bottom (as one would). Well of course, she got all fluffy and huffy and flounced off fatly to complain about me breaking her desk. I offered her mine which was all newly carved with curvaceous figures but she wouldn't play ball and as a result the head summoned me to his office after school and gave me 6 of the best! What a curd!! He was just a Big Bully! The result of this, of course, was a lifetime's enmity between myself and the headmaster and also my elevation to minor mythic stature as the only-boy-ever-in-the-history-of-the-school-caned-on-his-first-day-at-the-bloody-establishment. And all I'd done was a bit of minor damage to material objects. But I got some major damage to my backside!! Not fair. I'll tell you what were the most unnerving aspects of the proceedings. One was that the Deputy Head, Old Tilbrooke was there to witness the execution, and he seemed to take a lugubriously humorous view of the proceedings. The other aspect, which was by far the most chilling was a peculiar "click" sound, a definite audible prelude, before the cane landed on my bum. I realised when it was all over that that was the sound of the tip of the cane touching against the ruddy ceiling of the Headmaster 's office. You could see lots of little scuffs on the ceiling where the cane had been raised for a blow. Bloody primitive!!! I was able to exhibit the signs of my martyrdom by showing off the stripes on my bum in the boys' toilets for about six days.

Robin: Di-

Foreman: NO, I didn't show any girls. But back to Mrs. Horne (more or less, mainly less) Well, not long after that we engaged on a campaign of taunting the 5th formers who lived in the hut next door. One morning break I got caught and was surrounded by a gang of 8 or 9 of these fifth formers who were punching and shoving me around the ring. I said, "Now come on chaps, this is not fair, let me pick just one of you for a proper man to man fight". Gordon Greenall, who was more or less the "leader of the pack" readily acceded. A stand up fight between a first former and a fifth former was going to be a lot more interesting than a push about. I was a mate of Gordon's younger brother, called "Pancake". "Pancake" was called "Pancake" because once for a dare he went and ate a cow "pancake".

Robin: A cow clat do you mean? He didn't eat a cow clat did he?

Foreman: The cow pat wasn't all runny, it had reached a state of desiccation so that you could pick it up off the ground. "Pancake" stood there munching it like a contemplative farmer eating a flat hat. Well, back to Gordon, Gordon was well hard, very wirey and strong, so there was no way I was going to fight him. If I had have done, I wouldn't be writing this now because Gordon's favourite trick was getting hold of your fingers and bending them back to impossible angles. The smallest guy there was a boy called Freddie Bullock, but there was no point in choosing him either because he was an aggressive little blighter who was highly sensitive about being the size of a peascod and he would definitely fight like a terrier to defend his honour. The most likely choice was a middle-sized guy hovering around behind the others, so I chose him as my opponent. Can't remember his name now. Botsford or something else with two syllables beginning with B. Well, he (Botsford or something) came out of the circle with his dukes up, with all his class-mates urging him to teach me a lesson. We squared up and I just dropped my left shoulder, feinted a left and then put a right straight through his guard, right on his nose. There was a cascade of founting blood, he just crumpled up like a coke can and that was the end of the fight. I'd broken his nose with the first shot. Well, in the lesson after the break we were in the school hall for a music lesson (that meant singing because we didn't have any instruments or anything). Mrs. Horne was conducting (literally) and just into the lesson the boy I'd hit was being taken to hospital past the window and Mrs.Horne leant out to ask what was the matter. The persons accompanying the victim said his nose was broken in a fight. Mrs Horne turned to our class and asked if anyone knew who'd done it and someone told her it was me. There followed an uncomfortable silence in which everyone turned to look at me. Mrs. Horne just said "Oh Farr!" in a reproachful way. I felt like bloody Judas Iscariot !!! but I'd only been defending myself against those ruddy fifth formers.

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