Sean spent a week in London at Kyrle’s. Toby was sharing the flat. Sean would go out and about in the daytime..
He caught the train to Windsor. He had to go to where he had originally opened a bank account. Only there could he get a new card to replace the one lost in Latvia. He considered walking over Barnes Pool Bridge but in the end he chose not to. It would be another year before he did.
Sean heard from Crawford that Emma Batty had been delivered of a child. He was staggered. Emma Batty was known for her permanent pregnancies. She had been dubbed as ‘Terminator 3′ at university for her frequent abortions. But was she pregnant that often. Were these phantom pregnancies? Or was she even pretending to believe in the phantom>? She was deranged and sometimes malicious. Sean had sometimes attempted to seduce her but never gotten further than a fondle. That was probably a good thing as she was fertilised by a handshake. Her misogenerative tendencies had not endeared her to Sean. Sean did not believe in anything supernatural. Still one aspect of Catholicism stayed with him. He had an instinctive revulsion for abortion. For him it was the final horror.
Sean decided to go and visit Emma. He had caught the train from Slough back to Paddington. He spoke to her on his mobile as he walked along. He found him staring in the window of a building and a security guard staring back at him. Why was this guard glowering? Then he realised – it was a synagogue. That was why the man was suspicious that Sean might be a neo Nazi. Emma was eager for Sean to visit.
One day Sean set out. He left Kyrle’s gaffe near Oxford Street. He walked and walked for miles. He consulted his A to Z of London. He was near the Archway. He had not seen it since the summer he had left school. There was middle lane. Finally he came to Emma’s house.
He knocked on the door. There was Emma – a little plumper than when he had seen her last. She wore a pale blue blouse and a loose black skirt down to her knees/
HER father was there – his name was Gary. He was a messy of white hair, painfully thin, deeply wrinkled and with a perennial cigarette in his thin lips. His skinniness meant that his bones almost protruded. His had comically large ears and resembled the BFG only he was average height. The new grandfather wore all beige clothes that looked like he had slept in them – for a week. He shuffled painfully around the house.
Sean was ushered into the spacious two bedroom house in the leafy suburb. The drawing room was well furnished. The infant lay in a cot.
”His name is John Theophilus” said Emma proudly.
”Oh I see. What a splendid name. Good to give him something a bit unusual”
”Yes, I thought I would go for an honest Christian name and an interesting middle name.”
They sat down at the table near the kitchen. Sean had taken a few hours to walk the 8 miles from Oxford Street.
”His father is Casimir but unfortunately he has got bipolar” said Emma sympathetically.
”Ah I see not so good.”
”No. Casimir, I met him at Oxford. He is from an aristocratic family – they came over from Poland right after the war. Anyway, then we decided to get married and I got pregnant. But then I told him and he just went mental. He is in hospital now. His pyschiatrist told him that he has a baby but will not allow him to meet the baby. Says it is a bad idea. I have not put Casimir’s name on the birth certificate because that would give him all sorts of legal rights.”
Sean felt that was deeply unfair. The man was the child’s father whether Emma liked it or not. The child has the right to know who his father is. If Emma did not want this man to be the father of her sprog she should not have opened her legs. Sean thought about Emma’s choice of boyfriend. She was not too fussy so long as the male in question measured up financially. Emma had confided in Charlotte Brown that she was at university to bag a wealthy husband. So far that had failed. Emma’s looks were fading fast – a process accelerated by her constant smoking. Now that she had had a sprog she would have fewer takers. A chain smoking, alcoholic, unemployed, slutty single mum – the stuff of dreams! She was hardly renowned for her tact either. What a catch – catch a disease no doubt.
Roman Confessor was there. This porcine red haired Historian was lecturing at Manchester University. He wore all tweed and seemed 20 years older than he really was. His face was flat and round. He was unprepossessing and spoke in a high staccato voice. He was a classical academic homosexual.
Emma started lactating. Sean preferred not to tell her. She cracked open the wine and smoked innumerable cigarettes.
Then Emma’s mum came down from the upstairs bedroom. Beryl was her name.
”I have just been having a snooze” said the woman in a West Midlands accent. Her croaking voice was no louder than a whisper. She had badly dyed blond hair. Her grey face was runnelled and baggy. SHe too was smoking. She wore a gold blouse and a revolting long grey skirt with a pebble dash effect to it. The woman had no style at all. Sean had heard that this new grandmother had had mental health issues and was up to her eyeballs on anti depressants. Her eyes were glazed but there was a semblance of sanity to her.
Emma got progressively drunker. She sometimes went and breast fed her infant. Sean could not help but worry that the baby was ingesting alcohol. Emma also seemed to think she was responsible so long as her baby and her cigarette were in separate hands. She did not even manage that all the time.
When Sean spoke to the grandmother she would stare for a moment – uncomprehending. Only then would she have processed it and start to answer.
As Emma moved from tipsy to blind drunk her true character revealed itself.
”I am an aristocrat. Casimir is from a noble family. Hardly anyone in Poland is noble only the top people” Sean knew that was bull. One in three Poles was noble – anyone whose surname ended in ski.
”Casimir is is an aristocrat. That means my son should be a count. Maybe I will marry Casimir even though he is a loony. Then I will be an aristocrat. We are aristocrats. We are Irish but not real Irish. We invaded Ireland and stole Irish land. Irish are swine. We ruled the land. Then we came back to England after 200 years. I am so smart. I went to Oxford. Oxford people are smart. And aristocrats. My son is smart. I am a countess and very clever. Casimir is very brainy and he is a real count. The 1940s Polish are good. The Poles who come over today are just riff raff. They are not aristocrats. My friends are Etonians. I only sleep with boys who went to public school. I did it with Dr Stephen too but only so I could get into Oxford. I am so Catholic I never use contraception. I am so fertile. Ok I had a few abortions I am not that Catholic. I support the IRA because Catholics could not get a fair vote. I am against the IRA because the Irish are scum. I am not real Irish. I am English and a clever aristocrat. First boy I ever did it with was when I was 15. I was upstairs in my room with him he was in 6th form – mum and dad thought we were watching telly. His dad was a peer. I had an abortion then.”
Sean found this conversation tiresome. In vino veritas. Emma was a chav masquerading as a lady. Yes, she was fairly well off but apart from that she was the lowest of the low. She was an unprincipled opportunist. She bragged about her Catholicism and then aborted her babies. Sean remembered that there were sincere Catholics. Good people who practised what they preached. For this foul woman to call herself a Catholic was an insult to those who really believed.
LAST OF LONDON
Sean went back to Kyrle’s place. He told Kyrle the news
Toby’s cousin from New Zealand was over. The doctor had been doing another degree in Medicine at Oxford. The doctor was named Adam. Adam was lanky man in his late 20s. He had glow in the dark blond hair and a mild Kiwi accent. He was an amiable sort and a good conversationalist. Sean could perceive that this chap had the beside manner. They both slumbered on matresses in the drawing room. After a few days Adam moved off.
Two French-Canadian guys stayed. Sean enjoyed conversing in French with these two from British North America. Occasionally he did not understand their joual.
Donny was there. He and Kyrle had had a falling out. Donny was a loser aged 36 and working in a shop. He had a rough Swedish girlfriend. He had piercings and tattoos as a typical ex squaddie. Donny showed an open dislike for Kyrle and Kyrle returned his contempt. When Donny was wankered he had been grossly insulting to Donny. Kyrle had argued back in lexis that the squaddie was unable to comprehend.
Finally it was time to return to the Unhappy Valley. The night before he had to go back he stayed awake much of the night. He ruminated on how he abominated the place and many of the people there. He thought of that poem aimed at children ”a tomahawk had sliced your brains … the night before school starts.”
Sean went to a rough area of south London- Bermondsey. To see that London was not all that special. It was not bad to leave it or so he told himself. It was with the greatest of reluctance that he turned his face north.
Sean went to King’s Cross. He waited by the memorial to the 1987 fire. He remembered that happening – his teacher at prep school telling them about it. Gabriel boasted ”I would have survived”. The teacher had been incensed. Mr Black had rounded on Gabriel ”The chief fireman died in the fire how come you know that you would have survived?”
Gabriel was arrogant and stupid.
There Sean saw Mrs Bigg – she wore an elegant black skirt past knee length and a fetching brown blouse. Her shoulder length hair was worn back and she was lightly made up. She was a trim middle aged woman
”Hello are you from Amblefifth?” he said.
”wELL yes the prep school”
”Right I am at the senior school. My name is Sean”
”Hello my name is Alice Bigg” she said in a pukka accent.
”Ah Mrs Bigg so you are married to the headmaster?”
”Yes, I am”
A little girl and boy in uniform were delivered to her. It was her job to escort them to York.
Mrs Bigg was around the 40 mark and a very composed milf. She remarked ”You must know Lisa Penn from the secondary school?”
”Oh yes she is a good friend of mine.”
”Lisa is mad. She is all hands” said Mrs Bigg indulgently.
Pupils were there in casuals. Nipping out of the station for a smoke.
Sean dreaded going back. Toby had been saying ”I am sure it will not be that bad once you are back.”
An Indian railwayman was holding a gate open for them ”The school party come forward” he said anxiously. He worried lest other freebooters come in
The cadaverous Peckwater tried to shepherd the pupils. With a very heavy heart Sean boarded the train. He felt chagrin at every mile he went from London. The train was so jam packed that it was declassified. This meant that Sean was able to sit in first class notwithstanding the fact that he had a standard class ticket. There on a pristine Virgin train he sat near an Orthodox Jewish family. The chubby father read a book in Hebrew. His half a dozen children gamboled in the aisle. The Haredi man was a jovial type and was amused at his children’s antics. His eye caught Sean’s. Sean considered engaging him in conversation but was too reserved to do so. It was a missed opportunity to find out more about the Jewish community. Sean was a philosemite.
Two hours later they were at York and boarding coaches. The weather was appositely gloomy. The land was misty.
Soon enough they were back there.
Sean had missed a department meeting as he had done train duty. This served only to lower his standing in Murphy’s eyes even further..
Next morning Murphy called Sean into his office. Sean steeled himself. He fully expected yet another broadside.
”I have masterminded a new plan to improve your teaching. You must follow it to the letter” he threatened. ”Miss Cavanagh helped me draw it up.” This made Sean loathe it even more. Murphy’s long time golden girl had helped on this. What a love-in. Sean wanted to puke. ”She worked tirelessly to make sure it is compliant with the National Curriculum,” He continued even more vociferously about how a document the pupils would never see would have a transformative effect on their lives.
”This term I shall keep you on a very tight leash. A VERY tight leash” said Murphy menacingly.
Pluckily Sean did not respond.
Sean heard there were new colleagues. Down the pub he saw the chubby middle aged head of art lead a young woman in to dinner.
She had a lot of fake tan on. Her long hair was black and here little eyes were hooded. She stood 5’3” and wore stilletoes. Her miniskirt and crop top were out of place in a village in January. They say down to their meal. The woman was about 23 and seemed to be anxious. Her diffidence was understandable as she was new in a job in an unfamiliar town. When she spoke it was instantly evident that she was a Liverpudlian. Her name was Cilla.
Lisa told Sean that her friend had moved into her two bedroom house. Her pal’s name was Mary Parr. Mary had been at school with Lisa.
Down the pub he met Mary for the first time. She was 5’10” and had very white skin. Her black hair was in a boyish boy. She had a large upturned nose. Her voice was that of a geezer bird. Her overall looks were not displeasing.
Some Catholics from Chile came over to run a mission to the school. They were mostly people in their early 20s. They were down to earth and approachable. They all spoke decent English. It was odd to meet such fervent Catholics who were normal and easygoing. They were also untidy and fashionable.
Among them was a nubile young brunette named Trinidad as in Trinity. Sean wondered where this lot stood on Augusto Pinochet Ugarte. He thought it would be impolitic to ask. General Pinochet was a faithful child of the left. The press was always whipping up hatred against him. All these diatribes against him for the use of torture oddly never applied to leftists who did the same on a far grander scale.
Sean took to confessing to Fr Edmund. He found it cathartic. He did not believe in the mumbo jumbo but he knew it gave validation to the elderly priest.
Edmund would bow his head and adopt a serious expression.
”Bless me father for I have sinned. I have been negligent of my religious obligations. I have entertained thoughts of impurity. I have committed adultery in my heart. I have committed the sin of Onan. I have harboured a disdainful attitude towards those less fortunate than myself. I have also been an ingrate toowards my parents. I take them for granted. I am not patient and forgiving enoygh to them.”
”Is that all you wish to confess?”
”Then the lord forgives you and I bless you in the name of the father, son and holy ghost. I ask you to pray for me a sinner also.”
When they went for a stroll Edmund remarked ”God has is great big universe to run and he is not bothered by a silly little thing such as masturbation but every time I speak to you I hear you say that you are not good enough to your parents. Well sort it out. Call them. Tell them you love them. Be good to them.”
There was something sublime in Fr Edmund. Catholicism had brought his placicidity. Sean was not blind to the man’s faults but over all he was a good chap. Sean perceived how Catholicism could be a very positive force. It was not just in providing solace and a sense of direction. The pictorial and the plastic arts had had Catholicism as a muse.
Later the priest happened to meet Sean’s parents when he was showing them around. The little priests said ”I listen to this fellow’s confessions and I have to bite on a lemon to stop myself laughing.”
Jamie’s father, Lochlan, came up to discuss his sons abysmal performance.
Sean was there in St Olaf’s when the man appeared. He wore a three piece brown tweed suit with plus fours- it was the sort of tweed that was so thick it was bullet proof. The man was 6’1” though not broad. He wore a ridiculous fisherman’s hat. He had an equally absurd moustache of the sort that had gone out of fashion the same time as Hitler. He was red faced and scowling. He wore the same combative and ignorant expression as his wastrel son. With his sartorial sense and demeanour he could have stepped from the pages of a comic novel.
”Hello there – Lochlan !” he announced himself
”’Good afternoon my name is Sean Gallagher”
”Ah I know who you are.”
”Right I see.”
”And how are things in the school now?”
”Well reasonably good”
”It is not the same as it was in my day. We let in too many of the black and the yellow uns. Overrun by the fuckers. Asian invasion. Of course those Hong Kong harries have the dosh so we have to let a few of the money grubbing, snub nosed, little slit eyed yellow bastards in just to make up the numbers. We should put those Chinks back in Pakistan or wherever it is they come from. And as for the Proddies- who let the proddy dogs ? It was a great pity to abolish caning. Bring back caning I say. What is all this nonsense about sexual abuse by priests? I was touched up by priests every day I was a junior. Just their way of being fatherly. Never did me any harm? Look how well I turned out? Did not make me a fucking poofta ba or anything? All educational. All part of growing up. So what is Jamie learning these days some fucking Shakespearean novel or something?” It was distinctly odd thing to say. Froth formed in the corners of his mouth.
Sean was non plussed. ”Well… um interesting. I do not think taking pupils from the Far East or Africa is a bad thing at all. Is it not the Catholic Church’s duty to disseminate the faith? Many Oriental pupils are British – they have the right to be considered British. Same goes for some of our black pupils.”
”I am the sort of man who calls a spade a coon. What is this fucking namby pamby nonsense of saying black when you mean nigger? Can’t you speak English man? What do they teach you these days? ” there was a smug ignorance in his tone.
Sean did not warm to this badinage.
”Well that word is very hurtful. There are many black people who would take the gravest possible exception to it. We must not go around being gratuitously insulting. It is the worsr thing you can say. Surely people should be respected and not verbally abused for their race.”
”What is this some sort of fucking Protestantism? No wonder the place has gone to the dogs. Next it will be women priests. Before we know where we are the whole place will be Prod. Those Prods invented homosexuality, divorce, abortion and everything. Ghastly! I shall be monstrously pissed off if you teach my son any of this shit. I am bringing him up to be a gentleman. He has to run the estate. It is all on set aside. We get paid not to grow anything. It is outrageous how little they pay us not to work.” There was not a hint of irony in his voice.
”That is a pity.”
”Yes. I tell it how it is. We are being robbed by these mean bastards underpaying me. I should be paid more not to work. Yes, I am the sort of man who calls a spade a nigger!” Lochlan then laughed as raucously as though this racial epithet was the wittiest drollery of all time.
Sean did not join Lochlan in his laughter.
”What the fuck is wrong with you a pinko or something.” said Lochlan going swivel eyed.
”I am not a racist. It is perfectly possible to be anti racist and a right winger. Racism is anti capitalist. One should do business with people whatever there race. Surely it is foolish not to hire a good person because of his or her race.”
”Well that might be so if blacks were not stupid or Pakis were not cheats or Chinks were not well – Chinks.” said Lochlan. The man was out of touch with contemporary existence.
”Sir, I respect you as a parent of this school but would you mind please not mouthing off all this racist bile? I care about my pupils of all races. No one should be abused for his race.”
”Quite right. The blacks are so racist to us.”
”Well a few are but that does not make it right for whites to mistreat them. It is the same as religious persecution.”
”Well of course. There were anti Catholic laws in Britain 200 years ago. Of course my family was Prod then. Deep down we always believed in Catholicism but we hid it. We would die for our faith. But we would not lose money for it. Come on. Some sacrifices are too much. Then about 50 years ago my parents changed back to Catholicism because there was no more anti Catholic feeling so it was ok.”
”I see. ANyway all this stuff about paedo scandals in the Catholic Church. It is all Protestant propaganda. Sex does not count unless it is buggery. If the boy is in the priest’s care then it is allowed.”
”Well I don’t quite agree” said Sean striving to be diplomatic. He wanted to stand up against the man’s blatant bigotry. On the other hand Sean did not want to get himself sacked. Lochlan was known to carry sway. He was tipped to be a governor. Promoting racial hatred was surely against Catholicism but if a man is paying 30 000 pounds then this can be overlooked as the merest peccadillo. Nothing a confession or even better a donation will not fix.
”The whole thing is to prepare Jamie to run the estate. A man of my class must never work. Beneath our dignity. Our station in life is to be gentlemen of leisure. Ride to the hounds. Don’t let any fucking plebs in here. SOme schools let in any Tom, Dick or Harry. No – no riff raff. The proletarians must be taught to vote Tory.”
The hypocrisy of this man espousing Christianity and then detesting those less fortunate than himself irked Sean.
Mercifully the man had not asked about his son’s progress. Progess would not be the right word. Regress. It would have been impossible to provide a humane commentary on how Jamie was doing. The truth would have sent his father apoplectic. His silence as to his son’s schooling spoke volumes.
Sean thought it was lucky that Jamie did not need a job. No employer would touch him with a barge pole. The father seemed to be fighting losing battle for his sanity. How could he think he would go into Parliament. Sean was a Conservative and was aghast that this man was a parliamentary candidate for the party. The party did not endorse such views but was complicit in them being aired if it new that this prize arsehole was disseminating such rebarbative opinions. No wonder Sean had cooled about the party. He also perceived how Jamie was aping his father. He was a loudmouth with the same saloon bar prejudices.
Sean was increasingly drawn to UKIP. Eurosceptics of all political traditions had coalesced there. Innuendos were spread about the party. Cameron denounced it as a party of fruitcakes and closet racists.
DOWN THE WHITE SWAN.
Abel wore a three piece tweed suit complete with a deer stalker cap. He smoked a pipe and remarked. ”I am writing a book on patristic theology. Looking for a publisher.”
”Well good for you. What do you make of Benedict XVI?”
”The college of cardinals chose him. Sorry, the Holy Spirit chose him. Yes, excellent choice. God is always right. Of course a few popes have been libertines. But that just proves someone can be very sinful and very Godly at the same time. There was the pornocracy.” said Abel. He had a unique and wonderful talent for higlighting the most scandalous aspects of Catholicism.
”I would like to have been around then.”
”Yes, It is not what it sounds like. It is the rule of prostitutes.”
”Well yes I know pornography means writing about whores. The Greeks had to write about it they could not publish photos.”
”Quite. Anyway. Benedict XVI a good man.”
”It does not bother me that he was in the Hitler Youth. That is only because he was in Germany at that time. Everyone he age wa sin it unless they wanted to end up in a concentration camp.”
”Well precisely. Those who criticise him for it have to ask themselves would they have been able to avoid joining ? of course not.”
”Yes, all sorts were in it. People who went on to be religious, anti religious – conservatives, communists, liberals – people with all views were conscripted in it. Just because British men his age were on the Allied side does not make them good. There is a mixture of good and bad in all nationalities. Criminals were in our army as they were in all army. Goodness is individual not national.”
”You got a hole in one.”
”Anyway – when he was Cardinal Ratzinger he was in charge of the holy office. He said ”we stopped burning people but that was the ONLY thing we stopped doing” I thought that was brilliant” Abel chortled.
”I see – the panzer cardinal”
”God’s rottweiler. Wonderful. Just what we need. He should prosecute heresy. He said Protestantism is deficient and he is on the money. He pointed out that rock music is satanic and he is spot on.”
”Where do you stand on creationism?”
”Well I agree with the Church’s official line as I do on everything. We are not head bangers. We never over emphasise the Bible. We are not into verbal inerrancy. You know those Protestant fundamentalists are into literalism. Those nutter snake handlers in Alabama probably believe that shit. The important thing is God made the universe. Could be seven days or seven billion years does not matter. The word day in Hebrew can mean an indeterminate period of time. Gladstone pointed this out. The amazing thing is the sequences of events is the same in the Bible and in Darwin. It is perfectly possible to believe the Genesis account and to believe in Evolution. I believe both. They are compatible,.” said Abel. ”Anyway on to more important matters. I want to bring back the inquisition. I want to prosecute heresy. I shall be the scourge of the moderates!” He then went onto a binge of reactionary rhetoric. This man had a very muddled sense of priorities. He was forever lobbing brickbats at those who wished to make the church more alluring to a new generation. If Abel had his way the church would not exist in 50 years. There was so much wrong with the church and various solutions were proposed to these myriad proble,s. All of which Abel opposed. Maybe he wished to see it return to the purity of being a persecuted sect? Then again why appealed to him was the grandiosity of it. He did not want to be scuttling along catacombs. He wanted pomp and power in purple robes.
Mary Parr was there with Lisa.
”Hi Sean” said Lisa pulling a cigarette from her mouth. ”Please come and meet my friend Mary.”
Sean headed over and shook her hand. ”Hi I am Mary” she said in a geezer bird voice which spoiled things a little. She wore a black dress with a plunging neckline. It showed off her sheer white skin. Her boobs were small and she stood almost 6 foot tall in flat shoes. Her dress only insinuated cleavage and did not show it.
Sean sat d0wn with them.
”I moved here just after Christmas”
”Oh I see” said Sean. ”I have only been here a term”
”Yes Lisa told me all about you.”
”How do you know her?”
”I was at school with her. She was really clever and I was not. The school was crap like that. I went to the careers office and they said Oxford or Cambridge. I was never going to get a look in there. There was nothing for people like me.”
”God that is a pity.”
”I am not academic. Anyway I went to uni. Did a media degree. But it all worked out well. I work in radio advertising, Make loads of money. ”
”Good for you.”
”I really like it. Plenty of money for my horse. My horse is my main pleasure in life even though I have to shovel shit. So I got a job here because there is a cheap stables here. I went and got my horse from my parents’ place in Devon . drove up after Christmas and here I am. My horse is called Connolly.”
”Connolly. Irish is he or she?”
”Half Irish – well maybe it. not he or she. A gelding.”
”How could you do that to him”
”I bought him like that. Stallions are too wild and unmanageable.”
”I did riding at prep school. Then it became a girls thing to do. We had to shovel shit. They called it stable management. Did not fool me. Call the most menial thing management. I had to miss rugger once a week to ride so I gave up. I should have stayed in it. If you did but the age of 13 girls outnumbered boys 10 to 1. Just the age I started to appreciate the fairer sex. We are the unfairer sex!” They all chuckled at his spontaneous pun.
”Anyway drinks ladies/” said Sean
”Double gin and tonic” said Lisa.
”White wine please – house”
”All right then.” Sean went and shouted a round.
They saw some young Australians across the pub
”They are the gap year people” said Mary
”Oh right” said Sean
on the far side of the pub he saw a slim 17 Aussie boy with mousy brown hair and a faintly rubicund face. This youth was self assured, blessed with vitality and had only a little acne. He wore thin rimmed glasses.
There was a blonde Australian girl with pale skin, calm eyes of sapphire and a diffident manner. She was of average height and was inclined to plumpness.
Beside the blonde was another Australian girl who was slender and bright blue eyes had long hazel coloured hair. She was deeply tanned and had front teeth that were a little too prominent.
There was an Aussie boy of 6’3” who was slender with is. He had very dark brown hair – carefully brushed. His clothes were ironed – unlike all the others. He had dark brown eyes that exuded intelligence. He seemed to be several years older than his real age – 17.
There was an Aussie boy with light brown hair, rough skin with ample acne and a villainish grin. He was perhaps a tad below ordinary height. He was average build but had his shoulders bowed.
”You see that one?” said Mary pointing to the first fellow – the boy with mousey hair.
”Yeah him with the glasses”
”Him. His name is Leslie” she nodded. ”We met him here on New Year’s. I invited him back to my place. He fucked me. He was very experienced. It was only afterwards that I found out he was 17. I was shocked. I felt I was almost a paedo. Then again I do fancy Ron Wearsley” she laughed.
Sean studied Mary. She was too lanky for his taste but he would do her.
When Mary went to the loo Sean asked Lisa question. ”Does she have a boyfriend?”
Lisa took the perpetual fag from her gap toothed gob.
”No” she looked concerned. She anticipated his next comment
”Might try to score with her”
”I do not think there is much chance of that” she said with anxiety.
”Well she saw you when we were passing in the car. She asked about you well and.. It is not going to happen.”
”Ah ok” he shrugged and took it philosophically. ”I shall spare myself the humiliation of trying.”
Then the Aussies sidled over. Leslie led the way. This very confident boy said ”Hey how you going?” He went to kiss Lisa on the cheeks. She disliked it but submitted to his kisses.
”Hello my name is Sean” he said offering his hand
”How you going mate me name is Leslie” said the boy. He was very forward.
Just then Lisa came back from the loo
”Hi Leslie” she said gauchely.
He kissed her on both cheeks.
”Hello ” said Sean looking at the brunette ”my name is Sean”
”Hi my name is Gillian” she said with bizarre mix of an Australian and an Ulster accent. They shook hands.
”Well good to meet you. Welcome to Amblefifth. I suspect it is not your first tim ein the UK.”
”NO it is not. I am from Northern Ireland originally. I only moved to Australia 3 years ago and here I am back.”
”Ah I see that explains it.”
Sean then greeted the chubby blonde. ”Hello Miss my name is Sean”
”Hi” she said shyly ”I am Jenny” they shook hands. She wore a white top that was a little too tight but emphasised her sizeable bust. The colour did not suit her pale complexion.
Then the very tall one came over. The boy greeted Sean with dignity ”My name is Ferenc pleased to meet you.”
”hello I am Sean” the very tall youth bore himself with especial dignity. ”Ferenc that is an unusual name. Are you Hungarian”
”Wow. How did you know that?”
”Well come on it is a well known Hungarian name”
”Yes well my mother fled there as a baby. ”
”You ever been? Only twice. I cannot really speak it though”
”Magyar is said to be an incredibly tricky language”
”It is and you even know the language is not called Hungarian”
”Come on I am an educated man”
”Never met anyone outside Hungary who know that Ferenc is an Hungarian name”
Then the ugly boy came over. He looked sulky
”Good arvo” he said in a very Ocker accent ”How you goin ‘ ? You Pommy bastards are real nice.”
”Ah well thanks. I am Irish actually”
”Still Pommy bastard. All the same to me” said the boy. He was trying to hard to be hard. ”Me name is Woodward”
”Well hello Woodward. I am pleased to meet you. How do you do?”
”Doing just fucking fine” said Woodward
Later Woodward and Les engaged in a drinking game.
As Les poured grog down himself Woodward sang ”He is a piss pot so they say/ He is a bastard through and through/ He tried to go to heaven but he went the wrong way/ He went down down down – drink it down down down..” He clapped his hand as his mate imbibed.
Sean was tickled pink at this. It was an Australian nursery rhyme. Various suggestions were thrown around by the Aussies as to what the best Aussie liquor was. At the age of 17 most were hardened drinkers. No wonder a certain reputation beset the Antipodeans.
Sean met the parents of a 5th form boy. Gregory Wilcockson was an amiable but slow witted boy. Ironically his non-identitical twin was one of the cleverest boys in the year.
The Wilcockson’s came along. Mr Wilcockson was bald, spare and not too tall. He wore a tweed jacket and immaculate dark green cords. He was of melancholic accent and spoke in a strikingly pukka accent. wife was a raven hard 40 something beauty. She was lissom and spoke with a slight Yorkshire accent.
”I am a barrister so do not try to bullshit me. I soon get to the bottom of things. Is my son working?”
”Well yes he is Mr Wilcockson but he is not doing very well.”
”I see and why is that?”
”Sir, he is not that good at history I am afraid.”
”Well at least you have given me a straight answer. I heard you went to Winchester?”
”Yes, that is true”
”I was at Eton and we always said you Wykehamists cared about exams and nothing else.”
”Well that is not quite fair.”
”I know – you end up as civil servants and really run the country so you say. Anyway going to Winchester can be an advantage. The problem about going to Eton is that I do not know any solicitors.”
The odd thing about that boy Wilcockson was that he appeared to be very stimulated in lessons. Yet he never learnt anything much. He could recall a few facts but had no perception of cause and consequence. It was a conundrum that Sean turned over in his mind. How could he get the boy to go from remembering disparate scraps of information to identifying what caused what?
The head of PE came up to Sean in the corridor. He put his hand on both of Sean’s biceps – just softly. It was a curious gesture. Intended to be affectionate or to gain trust?
”I have decided to get you more involved instead of just ticking people off who are going to the gym.”
”So I am going to have you coaching hockey.”
”Hockey? Trouble is I am rubbish at hockey.”
”Not all good actors are good directors. You could be a brilliant director and a bad actor. There will be other staff with you.”
”I see” he said striving to suppress his scepticism. He was put out but hid it. Sean had asked for rugger specifically and emphasised that he did not want to coach hockey. Now they had given him the opposite.
Twice a week Sean found himself down at the astroturf. It was superb water based pitch. There would be dozens of boys in 5th form and 6th form. Sean wore a school issue tracksuit and hockey boots. He did not like it and was supremely bored. He attempted not to look too glum. Abel Kennington also had this duty. He chatted about whatever to Abel.
The man really in charge of these sessions was Jeremy Steel. Steel was a thin faced Chemistry teacher with a permanent natural tan. He had a nasal northern English voice and was not disagreeable. Sometimes the nubile Australian PE teacher would come along. She coached and even played. Her reflexes and hand eye coordination were marvellous.
Sean was most grateful that he was there with Abel Kennington.
The sport was not so bland. Sean watched the play little. Sometimes he was told to referee. Hockey is odd in that it has two referees at a time. The pitch is divided by an invisible line into two right angle triangles. Each referee is responsible for one of these. It makes more sense than a referee having one end or one half of the pitch.
Occasionally Sean would pitch in with exercises. He would pass the ball back and forth to some of the boys.
He was doing this with Honourable Louis Stuart – the boy really was a distant relative of her Majesty the Queen. He had jet black hair, pale skin, was well built and handsome. Stuart was one of the most decent boys in Sean’s History class though he was academically undistinguished. Stuart hit the ball a bit too high and Sean had to dive for cover. He could not help but crying ”fuck!”. Stuart was most amused.
”Sir did you just say that” he grinned. He was pleased to see another side to Sean. Sean was opening up to his sixth formers and being himself.
Some of the sexy PE teachers would be on the pitch besides theirs. Sean took the opportunity to gawp at their legs.
Once they were waiting for a hockey session to start. Sean was chatting to his dear mate Abel. ”I do not like Jeremy’s coaching method. It is a bit well scientific” said Sean contemptuously. Sean turned around to see Jeremy only a few paces behind him. Had he heard? There was no indication on his face.
On another occasion Abel said he had been at session to qualify as a referee. ”Fr Ethelwulf was there. People found out he was a priest. And you know how that goes people either love them or hate them. Anyway these people fawned over him. He had to referee little girls. he behaved like a total Nazi – blowing them up over every tiny mistake. Anyway in the end he qualified.”
”I loathe hockey. Not played since prep school. The only good thing about it was to go up to some guy – go behind him and try to hook his gonads with my stick.”
Abel laughed heartily at this apercu. ”That is so you”
”One of my countless shortcomings if I have a very low boredom threshold. So I have to try to amuse myself by such things.”
There was one 5th former there known as Milfie. He had this soubriquet because his mother was universally acknowledged to be a Milf – a mum I would like to fuck. Sean used the boy’s real name at the start. Sean thought of reprimanding the others for calling him this – it could be very aggravating for the boy concerned.
”It is a compliment sir” expalined fatso.
”I am fine with it sir.”
”Wow. I see. That is big of you.”
At the next hockey training session Sean had to call the roll to see all the boys had shown up. When it came to this boy’s name Sean called out loudly ”Milfie”. The others were bent double laughing. Milfie did not object. Sean suspected that deep down the boy disliked other saying how much they wanted to fuck his mum but had long since taken the policy decision not to give them a rise out of it.
They went away for matches sometimes to nearby schools. These were on Saturdays. Sean did not enjoy the coach journeys but chatted to his colleagues. At the other school he would change into his sports clothes. ”It gives confidence to the boys” said Abel.
One of the perceptive sixth formers said ”WHy don’t you show us some hockey skills sir”. Sean reckoned it was less humiliating to be candid ”I have none to show.”
Some members of the Manquehue movement started accompanying them.
They went to play in York. Sean occasionally had an insight ” The other team are not passing to where their player is but to where he is going to be when he received the ball” This observation was valuable enough to be passed on by Abel to the team.
Sean went to Sedbergh once. It was in a grim valley of thin soil. The land was not very green. It was the sort of landscape that can only support sheep. The place was banal and unforgiving. There had never been intelligent life there. There just hadn’t. As Sean walked past the main school building he passed a bust of the only old Sedberghian he had ever heard of – Brendan Bracken. Not that any of the boys would have the faintest idea who this showboating chancer was. Bracken – he was yet more proof that being a total charlatan is the best way to get ahead in life. Honesty is the worst policy.
When the bus stopped half way for boys to go the the loo Sean followed his usual policy. He disliked using the same loo as pupils. It seemed wrong. He waited outside until all had left. Only then did he go in for a slash. He did not wish to be accused of molesting them in there.
Lessons continued the same as ever. Some classes went fairly well. The dim lower sixth group was a constant battle. Their behaviour was atrocious. Sean detested it and had nightmares about it.
When it came to essays he asked pupils to call out their marks and wrote them down. Could be shaming for those who performed badly but that was not its intention. Pupils could of course lie and Sean never verified that they spoke the truth. Sean later discovered that a boy in the bright lower sixth set never did an essay and just made up marks. It did not put Sean’s nose out of joint. Less work for him. If the boy did not care about his education then why should Sean? At 16 a pupil is old enough to leave school and that is what half of them should do – so Sean thought.
Anyone with an ounce of decency could have accepted Sean’s tacit offer. If they slept, did work for another subject or used their phones to text he did not reprimand them. No one else would offer them a better deal. All that had to do was not cause trouble. Some were too thick to accept that. They insisted in ruining the education of those who wished to learn.
MEETING WITH MURPHY
Murphy said ”You have started a whispering campaign against Miss Cavanagh” he sniffled.
”No I have not ” said Sean flatly. Something stirred in him.
”Yes you have.” The atmosphere turned to ice.
”I have not so what are you accusing me of saying?” he was visibly irritated.
”I cannot possibly tell you that” he sniffled.
This intensified his irritaiton. ”This is Kafka. Accused and I do not know the charge” he laughed.
”Who is Kafka?” Murphy revealed his ignorance. It afforded Sean more levity. This sent Murphy into a paroxysm of rage.
”How dare you laugh at me” he screamed.
Sean realised it was unwise to provoke his boss but he could not help himself.
”There have been nasty rumours circulating and it must be you who is spreading them. It is not rocket science.” He twitched his lips to the right.
”A pity. I have no idea what you are on about.” he objected.
”A heck of a lot of people have heard. I do not like your wayward attitude. ”
Sean could hardly object. He could not give his boss any more excuse to fail him in his PGCE. Any incident would be seized upon by Murphy.
Murphy then gave him more forms to fill in. A total misuse of time it was.
”I am going to launch an investigation and it shall be formidable” said Murphy. ”The prestige of the department is at stake!” He was at his most power mad. What delusions of grandeur did this pathetic petty tyrant labour under?