Whenever it is discovered that someone attended boarding school, the focus of conversation gets interesting questions. Is it really like the Harry Potter novels? What was the food like? Did you join the pillow-fights? Did many run away?
Girls frequently ran away. One of my girlfriends did. So did I. It was quite unusual for a boy to run away. As you will read, I ran away after being beaten up by a master. I was returned the same night by my naieve mother, persuaded by the headmaster ….
photo: Dora Kazmierak
Pulled by long mop top hair,
pushed down two flights of stairs,
the master had the upper hand,
I tumbled terrified – (you understand….)
Fists impacted my frame, furiously,
border-boys peered out windows, curiously
not even the prefects intervened –
I was utterly all alone, it seemed…
Reluctantly I apologised – (because sore)
the beating stopped – but not the score:
my empty school desk evident next day,
a homebound train carried me away.
Naieve mother sent me back that night:
(just before Easter) – school always right;
collected from station by worried headmaster:
teen defiant drama became pastoral disaster.
Confidences disclosed: father’s school debt;
self-exile decided (later, much regret)
sealed by stupidity, fragile teen’s fate:
overburdened by too much family freight…
Decades later, I walked through those doors:
sweet remembered scent, waxed parquet floors.
Newtown: I got my first good-start there.
Newtown: reluctantly I left my heart there.
Fifteen of us re-united thirty years after,
poignancy was present but also laughter,
long-gone bully, not worth name mention;
met kinder teachers: affection retention.
Newtown, fed my hope-hungry heart,
almost-redeemed me with music and art;
I still yearn those years, still easily upset:
this poem refunds that tremendous debt….