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SHEPSHED MCMLXXX

Part Three
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Contents
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12
Part 13
Part 14
Part 15
Part 16
Part 17
Part 18
Part 19
Part 20
Part 21
Part 22
Part 23
Part 24
Part 25
References
Links
Other work by Mark!

The Phantom Flasher

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Fast-forward to 2008, I’m in a well-known supermarket in Coalville and for less than a price of a pint, I am able to buy a two-disc DVD edition of Jimmy McGovern’s “The Street”. Initially I buy it for that brilliant rant in episode 2 by Stan (Jim Broadbent) where forcibly retired and tired of life, he wanders into a pub full of burly Manchester United fans and starts ranting and raving about Ferguson's Evil Empire ("Ruud Van Horseface" and "that ugly, fat, money-grabbing bastard Rooney" – classic stuff!) There’s loads of other good stuff on this DVD and episode three is worth a watch, Neil Dudgeon as a school-teacher who is wrongfully accused of exposing himself in a park whilst out jogging. Yes I know, I don’t jog, you can tell that by looking at me – but I could empathise with him – twice over!

 

Having been exposed to the ritual cruelty of school and school-children, indeed I was at a pecuniary disadvantage during my initial education because at the time, I hated children! However dinner-ladies provided some form of warmth, protection and they were very much en-loco-parentis.

 

For me, that relationship however reached breaking point!

 

There was a song going round St Botolphs school, that went along the lines of:

 

“School dinners, school dinners,

“Concrete chips, concrete chips

“Soggy semolina, soggy semolina,

“I feel sick, toilet quick,

“Its too late, I’ve done it on the plate”.

 

I bet that song was sung at every school up and down the country.

 

However, a shock revelation here! The school dinners at St Botolph’s were not that bad! Okay the semolina (craftily re-branded in a cheap, cynical, Blair-esque before-its-time piece of spin as “tapioca pudding”) was vile, but generally it was not such bad food served in the dining hall.

 

Having served up the fayre, the dinner-ladies then acted as “Minders” – not necessarily in a Terry McCann protecting an ill-fated Arthur Daley money making scheme, but they always seemed to wear burgundy coats and they would relentlessly patrol the school playground keeping order. I was

no exception and when the going got tough, Id run to the dinner-lady before some infant, National Front wannabee bovver-boy could put the boot in!

 

However, as I grew more older and confident, it was seriously un-cool to cling to a dinner-lady during lunchtime, a bit like having your mittens stitched into your cuffs. As the weather improved, we would be allowed onto the field near the college and the Scout Hut. I think it proudly said the "No.4 branch of the Shepshed Scouts" and I used to think where the other three battalions of Baden-Powell types were stationed.

 

The fire-escape from the college sports-hall had a certain appeal, because there was a wooden banister you could slide down. Of course, we were told not to do this and if we were caught, instead of the reassuring comfort of the dinner-lady, we would feel their wrath and some of them were pretty scary! However one such sunny day, I threw caution to the wind and joined the throng to ride the bannister of doom and damnation.

 

I straddled it and away I went, the wind whizzing in my ears, half anticipating a cry of “Mark Monk, Mr Saddington’s office – now!” It never came! However, I suddenly felt a sharp prod of pain in my “neither regions”. I suspected that a splinter had been embedded into my testis! When I reached the bottom of the stairway, I do what any self-respecting eight year old kid would do eg, get the tickle-tackle out and have a look myself.

 

Racked with pain, I am blissfully unaware of the watching dinner-lady who in horror views every moment of my impromptu self-examination and yes, aged just eight-years of age, I attain what a Criminologist may call master-status of sexual deviant.

 

“You filthy, filthy boy!” – it reminds me now of that scene in Waterhouse and Willis’s film “A kind of loving” where Alan Bates incurs the venom of Thora Hird. His crime however was merely throwing up on his mother-in-law’s carpet after a boozy night out in Bolton, not exposing his knackers to a shocked, underpaid, "holding-out-for-my-pension" Leicestershire county-council employee.

 

I stand there, protesting my innocence and suddenly fearing the worse! A forcible escort to the offices of Mr Saddington, the dreaded cane, a 

letter home to my poor parents, expelled even? The truth is, it never was mentioned again until I decided to bring it up on this website.

 

Common-sense prevailed, I’m pleased to say.

 

Admittedly, it did burn my bridges with respect to seeking any future sanctuary in the safety of a burgundy coat when a mini-skinhead took exception to my presence, but I was growing-up fast and getting bigger and I was slightly more agile back in the day than I am now! 

 

Around three-years later, about 150yards from my St Botolph’s indiscretion, my second “dirty old man” moment came after a Games Lesson. We were getting changed in the dingy, dour changing-rooms at Shepshed High School when the fire-alarm went off. At the time M’Lud, I was wearing one school shirt, half buttoned, an admittedly hideous pair of purple and yellow Y-fronts and a pair of socks.

 

My memory was scarred from my first ever fire-drill, back over the road at St Botolphs in 1977 when scuttled out into the playground, I became traumatised at the fact that I had left behind my coat. Wracked by sobs and mortified that my coat would perish in the fire – as it turned out it was a fire practice.

 

However, the message has always been clear in every fire-procedure/emergency announcement I have ever heard, for example when flying on a plane. You are clearly told to “leave all personal belongings behind” and back to Shepshed High Boys Changing Rooms circa mid-winter 1983, that is what I did! I left behind my unloved, over-flared, school-trousers scrunched up on a peg and got the bollocking of my life for running down the steps from the changing-rooms to the car-park in my y-fronts and in front of a bemused class of giggling-girls who had just returned from a hard-slog at hockey with (appropriately named for those Thatcherite times) Miss Dole.

 

It was not Miss Dole who delivered my latest damnation, it was Mr Driver, the cross-country obsessed games teacher who yelled at me “Monk! Get back in there and put your trousers on, you will be done for indecent exposure”. So off I slumbered, for all I knew, into a towering inferno to retrieve my kecks, to a chorus of jeers from my class-mates. Any harbouring desire to become a fully fledged sexual-deviant/a nonce ended that cold winters day so any self-respecting Criminologist can rest assured my adult master-status is respectable, married, family man who fully adheres to fire-drills et al.

 

"In the event of any emergency, you are told to quickly leave the building/bus/train/plane/boat and not to retrieve any personal belongings....that is exactly what I did in 1984 and ever since!"

Life in Shepshed, 1980-1986