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Friday, March 15, 2013

Rats know the way of rats. - Chinese proverb

(Or if you don’t like that title)…From a bad crow a bad egg.
- Sophocles
School days


A recent post related the perturbing story of my teenage son Padraic, getting sprung playing a prolific amount of hooky from school and to be fair I should come clean about similar misdemeanours occurring during my high school years. 

The big difference however, was that I was never stupid enough to get caught. 

I had a friend Annie who was a truly undesirable influence and the mastermind behind many of our transgressions.

Every month the senior students would have to walk to the church about two kilometres away to attend Mass. 

“Stuff church!” Annie would say mutinously. “Let’s go and hide in the park instead.”

We would unobtrusively slip out of the line as the hundred or so students walked by the park and scuttle under the cover of trees, like cockroaches escaping the light. The next hour would be spent holed up under thorny bushes, smoking Benson and Hedges and slapping away green ants and mosquitoes. 

When the council workers doing maintenance in the park came near us we’d hastily stub the cigarettes out to avoid detection. It was an extremely uncomfortable experience and I actually would have much preferred to go to church.

By our final year of school we had blossomed into more sophisticated truants. By that stage our friend Pip had her P Plates so Annie, Pip, Jen and I drove to Annie’s empty house. 

‘Annie the Insurgent’s’ taste in music was feral and it wasn’t long before Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin were blaring from her Dad’s speakers.

“Ever tasted this?” the wild child demanded holding up a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label. “It’s really smooth!” our worldly friend added.

“Won’t your father notice if any is missing?”

“Nah… I’ll just fill it up with black tea.” She answered with the voice of experience.

We had no mixers so we skulled the expensive liquor straight from the bottle and swallowed it down with lumps of white bread. 

I’m here to tell you there was nothing smooth about it. 

An hour later we had finished the entire bottle between the four of us and proceeded to dance in an unsteady fashion to the heavy metal. 

Half an hour later I was to be found lying on the veranda, vomiting into the flower bed. Pip drove me home and told my mother I had fainted at school. 

“Are you sure you’re just sick?” my mother queried, “I could swear I smelt alcohol on Pip’s breath.” 

If you’ve been reading my blog by now you will have worked out what an accomplished liar I was. 

The gold medal for stories about wagging school has to be awarded to my younger sister Sam. When she was thirteen she and her friend Shazza decided to skip their science lesson and came up with a seemingly flawless scheme. Instead of leaving the school they chose to hole up within the grounds. 

There was a filthy crawl space under the library which could be accessed via a small gate. When no-one was looking Sam and Shazza scurried through the tiny entrance and sat patiently in the dark with the rats and spiders, waiting for the dreary science lesson to finish.

“Pinky! Your sister and her friend are locked under the library!” Someone breathlessly yelled out to me at lunchtime. 

This I had to see. 

When I arrived at the scene of the crime there was a huge, approving crowd gathered around the little gate. Some of the kids were feeding the girls sandwiches through the bars of the gate. 
The grounds man had apparently come along and padlocked the gate while they were hiding in the darkness. 
The girls were eventually released from their hidey hole and inventively fabricated an unlikely excuse about hearing a cat crying under the library, going in to have a look and being accidentally locked in by the janitor. The sceptical teachers dubiously accepted their explanation. 

My sister was a legend at school after that.