Thursday, November 24, 2011
1978: Come back and give me a chance
In my second year at school we found ourselves in a new home room.Tutor group we called it back then, and I have no idea what they call it now, but it's the one bit of the day when you're all together in your form for the taking of the register at the beginning of the day.
This room was a science lab, and we remained in science labs for the duration of secondary school. Our new form teacher was the peculiarly- and unfortunately-named Mr Polkinghorne. He was kind of eccentric and very strict, and there were to be no open jokes about his silly name.
Despite this warning, I coudln't help myself. I was terrible at school, very disruptive, easily bored, as a report after report stated, supercillious, only interested in making the class laugh and an all round bad influence. My parents were furious, but nothing could be done about it. If I wasn't engaged, that was the end of it.
Mr P was also my science teacher, and because I had little interest I was top of his shit list. His threadbare patience finally wore through one afternoon, as I (quietly, I thought) sang the opening acappella bars to the Darts' second superhit Come Back My Love. But I was caught. A board rubber hit my head along with some very harsh and very loud words. It wasn't the first time my navy blue jumper had the chalky imprint of a board rubber on it.
I was the bane of many teachers' lives. I would love to have been a fly on the staffroom wall, though on the times I'd poked my head round the door I neary choked to death in the thick fug of smoke that hung there. No fly would have stood a chance. I had letters home about just about everything, had the slipper and the cane and was known to the highest school authorities. The thing is, I wasn't actually a bad person. I wasn't Gripper Stebson, I was Tucker Jenkins. Wrong place, wrong time, can't rein it in, etc.
But I had to change my ways or there would be no holiday in the south of France that summer (see 1978: Hoping to see her). I spent the remainder of the year doing my best, and difficult as it was not to ask the teacher if she had a boyfriend or throw mud at the head from behind a high wall, I did it. At the end of the summer term, Mr P and I parted as friends.
Was I growing up at last?