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.
Silly mother sent me back same night:
(just before Easter) – educators always right;
collected from the station by worried headmaster:
teen defiant drama turned into pastoral disaster.
Confidences disclosed: my father’s school debt;
self-exile silently decided (with much regret)
sealed by stupidity, this fragile teen’s fate:
overburdened by far too much family freight…
Decades later, I walked through those doors:
O 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,
much poignancy present but also laughter,
gone master’s name, not worth a mention;
thankful for kinder teachers, many detentions.
Newtown, you fed my hope-hungry heart,
you almost-redeemed me with music and art;
I still yearn those years, I’m so easily upset:
how to repay so tremendous a debt….?