had the indignity of David Fettis grab my flares and call me “gutsy” (my Grandparents knew his mam Queenie quite
well and she soon got to know about it!), I then climbed the steps to our mobile-classroom. The indignity! 1E were being taught
by Mrs Richardson in a mobile-classroom. A few years earlier, whilst at St Botolph’s, I had waged war on mobile classrooms.
What happened was, in 1977 the Hall Croft school burnt down – the Co-Op supermarket is now there, but for years it remained
derelict and charred. Obviously something had to happen to the Hall Croft kids until the new school, imaginatively called
New Croft was built. The solution was to put up about half-a-dozen mobile classrooms around the perimeter of the St Botolph’s
playground and they would share our other facilities.
was outraged by the accommodation of these itinerants on our scared grounds and like a junior version of the Serb warrior
Arkan, I launched a campaign to rid them from our land. It was nothing like genocide in the Balkans, but armed with sticks
and stones, a gang of us attacked the mobiles by flinging mud at them and digging trenches so that the puddles would flood
them out and wash them away. I remember quite a few of the Croft kids gathering at a mud-splattered window looking horrified
at what was happening.
a riot-squad of dinner-ladies intervened, we were round-up and tried for our crimes. We were given a stern lecture on
compassion and told to spare a thought for these poor kids, having through no fault of their own lost their school –
indeed I think the school goldfish was the only casualty in the blaze, but that may have induced trauma in children so young.
conscience is eased since I saw a recent newsletter from the Coalville Liberal Democrats which fundamentally was
devoted to the eviction of some gypsies, who set-up camp in the town. The language and context used would not shame the likes
I was being educated for the first-year at Sec Mod in a mobile by the lovely Mrs Richardson. She was okay actually. She taught
dance too and on one of those School Reunion website things, I read some comments from some lads who had a bit of a thing
for her strutting her stuff in spandex. She was spoken for though! I remember she and Mr Howe, another teacher ended up together.
They were chalk and cheese. She was calming, approachable, kind and I always found him a wee bit scary. He reminded me a bit of John Thaw’s Reagan character in The Sweeney.
However she seemed to bring out the more sensitive side in him and a few years
later, when we were doing a project on the village of Long Whatton where they had set-up home, he invited about half a dozen
of us into their cottage and made us all a cup of tea, so he wasn’t that bad really!
well as having to coach my dance and movement skills, which resembled a stunned elephant, poor Mrs Richardson had to endure
my first novel “The Boys in Blue”. In English, we were encouraged to write our own book and I chose the
dubious title “The Boys in Blue” about an all-action cop hero called Bruno Smith. What an utter pile of drivel
it was! Incidentally Cannon and Ball brought out a film of the same name and she probably would have preferred to have gone
and seen that at Loughborough Curzon instead of enduring my inane witterings.
July 2007, I had a letter published in the Shepshed/Loughborough Echo where I praised the demolition of the High
School, it has since been replaced by a new building on the same campus. I pointed out that although it was pretty modern
by architectural standards, it had long since been outgrown by the growing population in Shepshed and bits had been built
on to it – as a result, it was a horrible, modern mish-mash of buildings. Really it should have been pulled down years
think my least favourite part of the school were the sports-facilities. I soon learned that although I thrashed the pants
off most of the kids in our street at football and cricket, I fell woefully short of the expectations of the High School.
In the aforementioned letter, I pointed out that the changing rooms were straight out of the Ken Loach film “Kes”.
In the film, the brutality in which Sugden (Brian Glover) forces Billy (David Bradley) into having a shower after a games
lesson was almost reality. It still amazes me to this day that my own children, primary school age, do not have to take showers
after PE lessons but when they move up it is a different story!
were dreadful in particular. Straight after lunch, we would have a cross-country run through the playing-fields. Obviously
being a lad keen on my food, this brought an unreasonable compromise, quit the burgers
and kit kats in the canteen fat-boy and you won’t get the “stitch”. Our games teacher, a Mr Driver was
a keen or should that
be obsessive cross-country runner. I used to pray that the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg would
thwart Driver and ban cross-country from the school curriculum on account that it was inhumane to fat kids like me. It never
happened. But the canteen building, which ran adjacent to the St Botolph’s playground, made a greasy spoon look like
a vegetarian delicatessant. It was all burgers, chips, chocolate, crisps, washed-down with gallons of slush puppy and fizzy
pop. You walked in, ordered what you wanted, how much you wanted and paid for it! Jamie Oliver would have a heart-attack!
There was a small table at the top where a solitary dinner-lady stood forlornly trying to sell salad cobs, but nobody ever
the end, Driver took pity on me, this other lardy gutbucket called Granty and a kid with a wooden-leg and he devised a shorter-course.
Either that or he got fed-up waiting 15 minutes for us to finish.
was hopeless at Rugby too, despite my size, it was too-rough. I didn’t want cauliflower ears and once, when Driver walked
us through the proper way to form a scrum I nearly ran a mile when he told us where the second-row’s head’s should
go! Out on the freezing cold pitch, despite the double-entendre I offered to go as a hooker in a dummy-scrum. Basically I
was not meant to hook on this occasion and let the other side win. However, the natural reaction came over me and with some
grunting moron trying to shove his head up my jacksee what did I go and do, stick my leg out and drag the ball back. Driver
went ape-shit! “You are not meant to hook!!!” he hollered. There was about one natural rugby player in the whole
school, a kid called Paddy Dickens who used to waltz through our defence like David Campese would if he was facing the Shepshed
Ladies Bowls Club. I remember Driver doing his nut in the mud on many occasions after Paddy had romped home with ease to score
yet another try.
in football was grim too. We were relived from our torture with Driver for the far more affable Mr Painter. He was a Londoner,
a West Ham fan, so what did he know? Well as far as the “academy of football went”, I would struggle to make the
borstal team! I even persuade my parents to buy me an England kit for the school-team trial, which I failed. “Bulldog
Bobby, more like Bulldog fatman” remarked one cruel little shit. I still felt pleased with my progress, being the proud
owner of a bona-fide Admiral England kit bearing in mind my first kit had been an Aston Villa one. Sportscene on the corner of Biggin Street in Loughborough did not really cater for Leeds United fans, so I had to
make-do with a replica Aston Villa kit. To be fair, it did not have the Villa badge on it and West Ham also wore claret and
blue and I thought they were pretty cool because an Uncle of mine followed them and they did win the FA Cup in 1980. I remember
cheering as Trevor Brooking stooped to repel horrible Arsenal on that day, 10th May 1980. How I hated Arsenal,
they were all so bloody ugly and how could anyone forget Willie Young hacking down 17-year-old Hammer Paul Allen at the end
(Nick Hornby’s “Arsenalesque” chapter in “Fever Pitch” provides a hilarious parody of that game!)
However back in Shepshed my white Villa/West Ham shorts eventually turned pink after an accident in the wash!
was another ordeal of endurance. My boy/man boobs were the ridicule of the entire school, add that to an old pair of my Dad’s
swimming trunks which were blue and white striped, then you have a cast-iron recipe for merciless taunts. However in my later
years, the trunks must have sufficiently impressed one lass from Woodhouse (who shall remain nameless of course) who offered
to do something quite rude to me in the baths. However the thought of being rumbled by Driver, who was pacing up and down
the pool-side yelling at some poor sod just for a change soon cooled my sexual desires. The Shepshed pool broke down one day
and because of the education cutbacks I seem to remember it took nearly three years to fix it! I was not sorry, but now I
am thankful that despite all the taunts about my not-so-manly figure, I did manage to learn to swim eventually and quite enjoy
going now from time to time!
think about the only thing I was good at was drama, but I never had the nerve to take part in the school play. I was never
asked anyway and think I needed that approach from one of my tutors, but it was never forthcoming. I think at times, I was
convinced my real life was so grim, I saw drama lessons as temporary escapism from the humdrum reality around me. I still
have a commendation for drama from the school on their headed paper signed by Mr Cutler or “Cod Eye” as he was
known amongst us. I remember during one drama session he had the class in stitches by joining in by pretending to be a “knicker
would never get away with it nowadays!
Hill had nowt on Shepshed High circa 1982-1986! However those or rather that school reunion website fills me with
dread - why on gods earth would I have the slightest bit of desire to reacquaint myself with people who wanted to flush my
head down the bog back in 1982?