Friday, 15 June 2012

Dangerous Teachers: the Strangler, the Communist and the Cabbage


This house was once a corner green-grocer. The scene of my first dabble in crime.


From my earliest days at school, there were law abiding boys like myself, and nasty little thieves like my six year old class-mates in Aberystwyth's Station Road School, who spend lunch times nicking from Woolworths.

Moving to England, and secondary school, class 2A had a similar make-up. Regular mischief makers and little goody-two-shoes like Robert and myself.

Our class had, almost single handedly, caused the early retirement of a potentially dangerous English teacher who found us difficult to handle. Almost strangling one of my classmates who had admitted he "had smoked for years", he left us.

Other teachers gained our respect, but were equally dangerous.

For a term, we studied Current Affairs. The dashing black-haired teacher, who leant heavily to the left, taught us about Mao's Long March, Ho Chi Minh and the ongoing Vietnam war. We learnt how the French had failed there and why the Americans had stepped in.

Robert and I had a strange attraction to him, taking in every word as if he were a preacher. It was the coolest subject we had, and we looked forward to his Friday afternoon lessons.

Then one day, he did a poll. How many of us had stolen something from a shop. Robert and I kept our hands on the desk while half the class put their proud hands in the air. He was not judgemental, he had asked the question out of interest.

After school, Robert helped me with my paper round. As we passed the green grocer's display, we removed a cabbage. Giggling, we ran off.

We played football with the cabbage for a short while, before kicking down an alley.

"Fantastic," said Robert, "we'll be able to put OUR hands up next time."

There never was a next time, but now we had branded ourselves as thieves.

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