Christopher Brookmyre’s ‘A Tale Etched in Blood and Black Pencil‘ reminds me of one of my favourite scenes from the Simpsons. Marge remarks to no-one in particular that,
“Kids can be so cruel.”
“We can? Thanks, Mom!” replies Bart.

I breezed through school with no problems at all. I must have had a guardian angel, because being bookish and speccy, I was a prime candidate for being hurled into the ‘cesspit’ (in fact, the basement entrance to the swimming pool) and spat on by vast armies of jeering, feral little shits of both genders.

One kid in particular made a weekly appearance in the cesspit as punishment for being reckless enough to learn the violin. Years later, in the 6th form common room, I would witness the same kid pulling a stray dart out of his own skull shortly before fainting while the dart players crowded around him chanting “One hundred and EIGHT-Y!” in psychopathic celebration of his unfortunate dart-attracting cranium.

Let’s take a break from school nostalgia and watch Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor doing a 9-dart finish.

Ah, I do enjoy the pastimes of the working man. Snooker, darts, poker – I can’t get enough. Anyway.

Not having worn a school uniform before, I rolled up to my first day at secondary school with my tie neatly presented in a half-windsor knot and my blazer buttons done up. I probably enjoyed the novelty of dressing up.

Standing alone outside the assembly hall waiting to be told where to go, some kid came up to me, discreetly suggested that I unbutton my blazer and loosen my tie, then promptly vanished. That friendly advice probably saved me from seven years of misery.

Misery like that lived by Brownie. Brownie was short & fat, and stank of chip fat and stale smoke. If he’d had as much savvy as he had dandruff, he STILL wouldn’t have stood half a chance. The product of a family of humble means, he lived too far away from school to walk, but couldn’t afford the bus or train, and so cycled each day on a crappy old bike. Every day, he would have his tyres let down. Crowds would then gather to jeer and throw things at him while he pumped the tyres back up. The only day this didn’t happen was Fridays, as everyone wanted to get home from school as soon as possible. So, instead, they’d slash the tyres and watch him set off on the long walk home, wheeling his massacred bike alongside him.

I regret not trying to stop people from tormenting that poor kid. I doubt I could have stopped it, but I could at least have said something kind to him, like, once. But you keep your head down, don’t you, or else you’re next.

An English teacher of mine was on sick leave for a whole term as a result of what used to be called a nervous breakdown. It was in the local rags that he’d botched a suicide attempt. His first day back at school, in his first lesson, some cunt had drawn up a game of hangman on the blackboard, with ‘CHI_K_N’ as the partially solved word. This was one of the more popular teachers!

Kids are brutal little fuckers. Another reason not to have any – I remember what they’re like. Email me some school horror stories, dear friends. Sharing makes things better.


3 Responses to Cesspit

  1. mieke says:

    i always say kids are like dogs, they smell your fear.

    needless to say i have a vast array of unpleasant stories to share from my formative years. dutch bullying sounds like a hug and a snuggle compared to what the english get up to though…

    maybe that’s why we’ve got the happiest teenagers in europe and yours are the most miserable.

  2. Pete says:

    I also mercifully escaped too much harsh treatment at school, despite the fact I had to carry a clarinet around with me all day long.

    Who’s got the last laugh now though, eh? I sometimes earn upwards of £50 a week!

  3. Nas says:

    lets just say, I would have bullied me at school, so i totally understand every piece of crap kid I went to school with. Not that Im bitter or nuffink!

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