My mam had made me go back to school on the Tuesday even though I still didn’t feel right. It was possibly more the thought of seeing Kev that was making me sick now. Every time I was anywhere near him I tensed up, expecting a punch or worse, it never came.
“I hate swimming,” I said to Elvis as we changed.
I could barely swim which left me in the shallow end with Gilbert and the rest of the strugglers. This was the only time Gilbert and I were in the same class as he was in the bottom stream, but there was no discrimination in sports. I felt sorry for Gilbert. My life was hell, but I got to see what he had to put up with. He was regularly pushed in to the deep end, struggling to get out only to be pushed straight back in.
“There is Miss Shipp though.”
Miss Shipp was one of the younger teachers in the school.
“You have a good point there, Elvis.”
“She’s got a couple.”
She always dressed in a blue tracksuit that hid her swimsuit. It did little to hide the shape of her giant breasts.
“Did you hear about her being caught having sex in the showers with Mr Armstrong?”
“Yeah, lucky bastard. Did you hear the one about Miss Mortimer and the nun in the lift on a school trip to Italy?”
Both were great stories, but unconfirmed. Then again, we wouldn’t let anything as insignificant as the truth get in the way of a good story. I liked Miss Shipp; she always gave us encouragement and stuck up for us when the competent swimmers laughed at us. I have to admit I sometimes pictured Miss Shipp and me in the showers when I was masturbating.
Swimming was one of the lessons I couldn’t get out of, Miss Shipp would notice I was missing. I would quite miss her as well if I didn’t go. She had been looking gorgeous recently and whilst I was always wary of Kev throwing my towel and underwear into the foot pool I still quite enjoyed the lessons. Mr Armstrong had now started coming into the changing rooms after the lessons to make sure there was no misbehaving. I think there had been a complaint after Chris Miskell had left.
I was in the shallow end as usual and I had just swum a width without aid for the first time.
“Well done, Pete.” Miss Shipp was wearing her blue tracksuit again with a green swimsuit underneath. “What are you boys doing?” she said just before there was a huge splash in the deep end. It was Gilbert. They had dragged him to the deep end and thrown him in.
“Miss, it’s Gilbert. He can’t swim,” shouted Tomma.
Miss Shipp stripped off her tracksuit and ran along the side of the pool. She dived in, barely breaking the water. She swam straight over to Gilbert and dragged him out. Although I was in the shallow end I could still make out the nipples protruding through her swimsuit. With her hair soaked back and the water dripping of her, Miss Shipp looked gorgeous. I fought to keep down a boner, Gilbert didn’t fight to keep down his. What I hadn’t noticed while all this was going on was Kevin Davison sneaking into the changing rooms.
The swimming lesson finished early and we were all sent to get changed. Miss Shipp and Mr Armstrong stayed with Gilbert to make sure he was alright. He was fine, but he milked it for as long as he could whilst Miss Shipp was cradling him in her arms. He wasn’t as stupid as he made out.
I went back to the changing rooms and started drying myself. I didn’t use the shower and took off my trunks whilst keeping the towel wrapped around me. I went into my bag to get my underpants. They weren’t there. Neither were my trousers, or any of my uniform for that matter. I could hear giggling coming from the girls changing room and everybody climbed onto the bench to see if they could find out what they were laughing about. It didn’t take me long to realise. The girls were due to do swimming for their next lesson and on the windows of the girl’s changing rooms were my underpants, trousers and the rest of my uniform.
“Elvis. Any chance you could get them for me, mate?”
“I would mate, but I’ve been told I can’t.”
“Who by?” Then I saw Kev.
“Looks like you’ll have to get them yourself, Wood. Not so funny now is it, not having any trousers?”
Everyone crowded around me and pushed me out of the door wearing just a towel. Kev came out behind me. All the girls were standing looking out of the window, cheering. Luckily, I was mostly shielded from the main school. I had to make a run for it. As I set off, Kev grabbed my towel.
“You’ll not be needing this.” He said as he closed the door behind him.
“But everybody wears trainers, Mam,” I protested.
“I don’t care what everybody else does, I’m only bothered what you do. The school rules say that you wear sensible shoes to and from school and trainers when you get there. That’s exactly what you are going to do,” my mam didn’t care that this made me even more of a target than I was already, “and you can take those white socks off as well.”
“Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain.”
I trudged upstairs knowing what the day was going to bring.
Everywhere I looked, the pupils of St Patrick’s were wearing trainers. Boys, Girls, Adidas, Nike, everybody was wearing them but me. I avoided eye contact with anyone and scoured the ground hoping to see another pair of sensible shoes. I didn’t. Even if everybody else was wearing shoes, my pale blue slip-ons were bound to stand out. Especially with grey socks. My mam wouldn’t let me have Kickers or Pods; they were far too expensive, a waste of money.
“Nice shoes,” Sara Nesbitt spotted them and let everybody in her crowd know. “Get dressed by Mammy this morning?”
I felt a small thud against the back of my head. I didn’t look around and waited until I was out of sight before I pulled the chewing gum from my hair. I tried the door in the hope that it would be open, and I could get into class early.
Normally, getting into class before nine is to be avoided as you don’t want to look like a swot, but I needed to change into my trainers even if they were Dunlop’s. As per usual the door was locked, the teachers enjoying a lie in or an extra cup of coffee before they saw fit to let us in. I slumped on the step and waited for the abuse.
“Shit,” I thought as I sat.
I stood straight back up again and removed the chewing gum from the seat of my pants. It was the same piece that I had thrown to the floor moments earlier. I put up with the usual abuse for the next ten minutes. The doorway had now become crowded with people waiting to get in from the cold. I felt a slap on the back of my head and turned around. Nick Couzens was standing there, hands in pockets, trying to look innocent. His friends suppressed giggles. I turned back again and tried to ignore them. Another slap, this time I didn’t look. They would get bored… eventually.
I looked at my watch when Mr Burns came to open the door. It was 8.59.
“Slowly now, form a queue.”
He placed his hand in front of me and let everybody pass. I was going to protest that I had been there first, but what was the point?
When I eventually got to class it was full. The usual suspects were there, Kev, Couzens, and Tomma. All of them ready for a laugh at my expense. Elvis was already there, and I sat next to him.
“Alright mate?” he said.
“The usual,” I said.
I took my trainers from my bag and removed the slip-on from my right foot. As I did, Kev snatched it from my hand.
“Lovely shade of blue, Wood,” he said waving my shoe in the air. Nearly everybody laughed. I bowed my head and tried to ignore him. “What do you think, Tomma?” He threw the shoe across the classroom.
“Give us it back,” I said.
“Come and get it,” said Tomma.
I hobbled over to him, one shoe on and one shoe off. As I got to him, he threw it to Nick Couzens.
“Want to look at it, Nick?”
I knew it was pointless trying to chase the shoe around the room and shuffled back to my desk. I put on my right trainer and went to get my left one.
“Looking for this?” Davison was now waving my left trainer in the air.
“Come on, give us it back. Burns will be here soon.”
“What do you say?”
“Please?” The word stuck in my throat.
“No.” He threw the trainer towards Tomma with a laugh.
“Give him it back Kev,” said Claire.
“I haven’t got it.” He opened his arms wide with an innocent look on his face.
Claire wasn’t impressed. “Then get it from your imbecilic friends and give it back to Pete.”
“Ooh. Give it back to Pete? Upset your little boyfriend, have I?”
“Jealous, are you?”
The smile was wiped from his face and I couldn’t help smirking. I soon stopped when he punched me and knocked me off my chair.
“Grow up, Kev.”
Claire’s face was now bright red, and everybody was watching. The door opened, and Mr Burns walked in. The crowd moved back to their seats, all except Claire and Kev who stood staring at each other. I climbed back onto my chair.
“Come on, everybody back to your desks.”
He waited until everybody was seated and walked up the aisle, looking at the ground as he went.
“Where’s your trainers, Curtis?” He was wearing a pair of Kickers.
“Forgot them, Sir.”
“Of all days why did he choose today to do a shoe inspection?”
“You all know the rules. You can wear your normal shoes to and from school and then change into to your trainers when you get here.”
The school had some bizarre rules, but none quite as stupid as the shoe rule.
“I take it that you’re quite happy to wear down our beautiful parquet floors with your clumpy shoes are you, Curtis?”
“But they’ve got rubber soles just like trainers, Sir.”
“Don’t argue, it was a rhetorical question.”
Mr Burns moved around the class dishing out detentions as he saw fit. I was at the front of the class and the route he chose which meant that I would be the last person he saw. I heard the clicking of his segged brogues on the wooden floor behind me.
“Get dressed in the dark, Wood?”
“Are you trying to be funny? Where’s your other trainer?”
I looked across at Tomma. He glared back.
“Don’t know, Sir.”
“We’ll see if you can remember when you are in detention tonight then.”
I looked around the class for a friendly face to help me out. Perhaps Claire would say something; she had stood up to Kev after all. I looked at her hopefully; she smiled back and shrugged her shoulders. Why should she bother?
The rest of the day was hell as Kev made me beg and perform numerous demeaning tasks before they returned my footwear. I got it back just in time for detention.
“Nice to see you’ve found your trainer, Wood. Where was it?” said Burns.
“Don’t know, Sir.”
“I thought you’d have learnt your lesson by now. I want a five-hundred-word essay on the inside of a ping pong ball before you go home tonight.”
I sat and got out my pen. I had done this essay a thousand times before and virtually knew it word for word.
“Where have you been? Your tea is ruined.” My mam was furious.
“You’ve been in detention, haven’t you?”
“Don’t lie. What have you been in for this time?”
“Nothing, I didn’t do anything.”
This was the truth, but I could hardly explain.
“Maybe I should go to the school then. Find out why my son was in detention when he had done nothing wrong.”
I hoped this was an empty threat because if there was one thing that would give Kev a field day, it would be my mam coming to the school.
“Go and do your homework.”
“Haven’t got any.”
“What have I just told you about lying? Get your backside upstairs and get your homework done. I want to see it when you’re finished.”
I knew I wasn’t coming downstairs that evening. Kevin Davison had pissed in my bag, ruining all my exercise books, how was I going to explain that?
I threw my bag on the floor and slumped on the bed. I placed my hand on the radiator and as expected, the heating was turned off. My mam thought it was a waste.
I took the sopping books from my bag spread them out across the floor. I mopped each page with an old T-shirt to take away the worst of the dampness. I then placed them across the radiator hoping that they’d somehow dry out by morning. I wrapped my quilt around me and switched on my BBC computer to work on my latest program. My parents had bought it as an educational tool, so didn’t allow me to have any games. I spent my time learning how to program, so I could create my own games and had already managed a couple of basic ones.
I didn’t show my mam my exercise books the next morning. Whilst the radiators hadn’t been switched on, they did eventually dry out, but they were ruined. The pages were crumpled, the words all blurred. I considered saying I had dropped them in a puddle, but there was no disguising the unmistakable stench of urine.
“I don’t believe you sometimes,” my mam was exasperated. “Why didn’t you tell me last night that you had lost them again? There’s no television for you for the rest of the week and you’re doing the washing up every night after tea.”
I shrugged and headed off to school. The rest of the week followed a familiar pattern. I would have my tea, wash up and go upstairs to go on my computer, waiting for the shout from my mam telling me I hadn’t washed the pans properly and to come down and do them again.
The days weren’t any different.
“I’ve lost it, Sir.”
I had to go into each lesson and explain to the increasingly exasperated teachers that I hadn’t done my homework as I had lost my exercise book. I had seen Paul Loftus use this excuse and he got away with it. I never did. Each teacher made me pay for a new book, they also gave me detention.
“What do you mean you’ve been in detention again?” My mam was now screaming at me.
“You know that I’ve lost my books. I’ve already told you that.”
I was wasting my time.
“I’m phoning the school. This is getting ridiculous.”
I thought that she might have tried to find the root of the problem, but true to form, my mam and the teachers agreed that I was a hopeless case. I was put on permanent washing up duties and placed on a one-month TV embargo. It was around this time that I became a compulsive masturbator. Along with my computer it was the only form of entertainment left open to me.
I explained my situation to Elvis as we walked to school.
“The one good thing to come out of this is that I don’t have to leave school at the same time as Kevin Davison and his mates.”
“Not a bad thing, unless they’ve also been in detention.”
“The teachers have become sick of giving me essays on Ping Pong balls and other pointless exercises, so at least I’m able to do my homework before I go home,” I said. “I get to spend the whole night on the computer. I’m getting quite good these days.”
“Me as well. With you not being out much I’ve been doing quite a bit myself.”
“Stop here a second.” I darted down the back lane.
“What are you doing?” Elvis had followed me.
“Changing my shoes.”
“Why didn’t you change them in the house?”
“You wouldn’t understand.”
I had my trainers in my bag and was wearing my white socks under my grey ones. This way, my mam was satisfied that I was leaving the house in the correct shoes and socks and I would also arrive at school in my trainers saving me from more humiliation.
“God, you’re weird sometimes.”
Elvis showed me his broken glasses, the Sellotape barely keeping the frames together. The damage came courtesy of Kevin Davison. Elvis explained that he and Gilbert had been getting hassled by Kev after school when I wasn’t there. I felt a little guilty but was quite happy that somebody else was taking it for a change. I was therefore bitterly disappointed when Kevin Davison came to see me that morning.
“Have you done your maths homework, Pete?” He wasn’t threatening; in fact, he was quite polite.
“Yeah, I did it last night in detention.”
“I didn’t get a chance to do mine. I had some business to take care of. Any chance I can copy yours, mate?”
“Fuck off, you moron, do your own homework. See how you like detention.”
“Yeah, no problem. As long as I get it back after registration, we’ve got maths first period.”
“I’ll get it done now.”
I knew I wouldn’t get it back, but I was becoming used to detention now, so I was resigned to it. I handed over my book reluctantly.
“Might be worth changing a couple of answers, we don’t want them to know you’ve copied.”
I was sure that I had got mine one hundred percent right and didn’t want to make it obvious.
“Yeah, you’re probably right. Don’t want them thinking I’ve turned into some type of swot.”
“There you go, Pete. Cheers.”
As promised, Kevin Davison returned my maths book, much to my surprise.
“Anytime,” I said, hoping he would never take me up on it. At least now I was in his good books for a while.
“Right, get your homework books out.”
Mr Burns must have been nearing retirement. He was a short greying man with a quick temper. I had often been the target of his anger when I didn’t do my homework. I had the misfortune to be in both his maths and religious classes and he was also my form teacher. There was no love lost between us. Today he was pleasantly surprised.
“Nice to see you’ve actually done it for a change, Wood. Detention must be doing you some good. Mr Davison, you as well. I think we’re going for some sort of record here.”
He collected all the books in and put them on his desk. He then proceeded to embark on a long lecture about Pythagoras or some such thing. Maths would be quite interesting if it wasn’t for the teachers. I drifted off as I thought about the swimming lesson that was about to come.
I wasn’t happy to be in the pool after the last incident with Kevin Davison. Up to now the lesson had gone without incident, but I was sure it wouldn’t last. I was practising my kicking in the shallow end alongside Gilbert when Karen Walker came into pool area.
“Please Miss, Mr Burns wants to see Peter Wood in the entrance hall.”
“Why does he want to see me?”
“Do you think he’s realised that Kev has copied?” said Gilbert.
“Don’t think so. He’s only asked for me not Davison. Maybe it’s to praise me for getting one hundred percent.”
“Tell Mr Burns that Pete is swimming. He can see him in his own time, not mine.”
Whilst I wasn’t swimming in the strictest sense of the word I was pleased that Miss Shipp had put Burnsy in his place.
“I’d love to see his face when he’s told that,” said Gilbert. We splashed harder as we laughed.
“Right, Miss.” Karen headed off.
She was back five minutes later.
“Please, Miss. Mr Burns says he doesn’t care if he’s drowning, he wants to see Peter Wood right now.”
“Go and get changed, Pete. You have to see Mr Burns in the entrance hall.” She shook her head as I climbed out of the pool.
I was quite pleased to get out of swimming as it meant I avoided the now weekly ritual of getting my towel and underwear thrown in the foot pool. The only other time I had avoided it was when someone noticed Chris Miskell with a semi-erection in the showers. He was immediately branded a poof and the abuse became so bad that his parents eventually removed him from the school.
I dried myself and changed back into my uniform, placing the wet towel and trunks in the bottom section of my bag to avoid soaking the books. I headed to the entrance hall.
A grand plaque listing the high achievers from the school adorned the entrance hall wall. One lad had played football for England schoolboys and three had gone to Oxford. The last great achievement appeared to have been in 1973. I’m not sure whether standards had slipped since then or whether the school hadn’t bothered updating the board. Mr Burns’ face was bright red when I got there. Blood pressure was obviously getting the better of him.
“What do you call this?”
His scream took me by surprise as he threw my exercise book onto the table. My shock was reflected in my answer.
Mr Burns punched the wall above my head, the plaster cracking and crumbling onto the floor. I’d never seen Burns this angry before, not even that time in Religious Studies.
“A book? I know it’s a bloody book! What do you call this?”
He opened the book to the middle pages where there was a drawing. I began to see why he was so upset. Spanning the double page was a drawing of a giant penis, complete with hairy balls and semen seeping out of the end. I was struck dumb with the extent of Kevin Davison’s artistic abilities. Mr Burns dropped the book on the table and pinned me against the wall by my lapels. I glanced at the picture in front of me. I don’t think the reaction would have been quite as strong had Kev not included a very good likeness of Mr Burns licking the cum from the end of the phallus.
My feet dangled from the floor as the blood boiled in his face. I was in trouble and this time it was serious.
There was no way I could have explained that the drawing was not done by me, but by Kevin Davison. He would have killed me. I was in the headmaster’s office alongside my mam. Mr Gutteridge, Mr Burns and Mr Hunter, a representative from the Education Authority, sat on the opposite side of the desk.
“I’m sorry your husband didn’t see fit to come, Mrs Wood.”
“He’s working, but I can assure you that he takes the matter as seriously as I do.” She glared at me.
“I sincerely hope so, Mrs Wood. This is a very serious matter.”
“Can we get on with this?” Mr Burns was getting impatient. “I want him out of here as soon as possible.”
“Yes, I think we can begin now,” said Mr Hunter.
Whilst he was sitting, he still towered above everybody else in the room. He had a tuft of hair above each ear but was otherwise bald. His thick-rimmed spectacles partially hid his long-pointed nose.
“I don’t think there’s anything to discuss,” Mr Burns started proceedings, “he should be expelled. This is a good Catholic School.”
“Now hold on,” said my mam.
“I’ve got to say I agree,” said Mr Gutteridge. “He’s a disgrace to the school. We should be making an example of him.”
“Can I say something here?” Mr Hunter stood, using his height to good effect. “Now as a headmaster you should be well aware that you can’t expel a child of Pete’s age. He is coming up to his O’ Levels and you have a responsibility to teach him. Whilst you may want to make an example of him, I am here to ensure that you fulfil your obligations to the Education Authority, your obligation to the parents and, most important of all, your obligation to the pupils.”
Mr Gutteridge had been put in his place and was scarlet.
“That’s ridiculous,” said Mr Burns but he was silenced by an angry stare.
I was beginning to enjoy myself but was brought back to earth when I learnt the severity of the punishment.
“As you may be aware, Mrs Wood, this isn’t the first time that your son has shown complete disrespect for this school. You may remember the incident in Religious Studies recently.”
He had a point. I was very nearly expelled then however escaped due to the same rules that were keeping me here today.
“What we propose is that instead of expelling Peter, we exclude him from lessons.”
“What will that entail?” said my mam.
“He will not be allowed in any lessons, instead he will be taught separately in a venue yet to be decided. He will have no contact with any pupils or teachers from the school unless specified by me. Some of the teachers are quite upset at his presence here.”
“Too bloody right.”
“Mr Burns,” Gutteridge raised his voice. “I trust this is okay with you?” He said turning to Mr Hunter.
He nodded his approval.
“As long as he still gets his education.”
“We’ll do the best we can in the circumstances.”
The meeting was over
The next chapter will be released soon. If you can’t wait, Leg It is available on Kindle, Paperback and Hardback.