In November 2016 I revisited Newtown, my old boarding school. I brought along my friend / photographer, Dora, to capture the spirit of that fondly-recalled, foundational place. Like others, I was bullied a bit but the senior sadists didn’t break my spirit….I was much helped at the time by the happy, hopeful top-ten gospel song, ‘O Happy Day’.
photo: Dora Kazmierak
Remembered: the drop-kick ball slap,
cheek-sting, my spectacles misshaped
- feared that full force whack.
Other juniors distracted, I escaped
repeat impact then; often terror trapped
in the junior common room: one exit only:
senior hyena-laughter, first-form boy lonely.
Scared by the sound of ball-ricochet bang.
On the valve radio a black mass choir:
how hopeful those one-time slaves sang,
Hawkins almost set this soul on fire:
‘O happy day’ the gospel anthem rang.
Bullies failed to beat up this boy’s heart:
boarding school safe shelter, emotional ark.