A Spike Milligan type spoof on an old English teacher I had at school. Have been wanting to try something like this for awhile now but battle to find a site which will permit it. Well here goes.
That splendid thing.
Just right of this splendid house or hostel known as Gaul was the new cinder athletics track. The architect being the new headmaster and trying to be a new brush that sweeps clean. Known endearingly by all the boys as, ‘Jim Beef’. The J and B being his initials of course. I came from the hostel Grey far further left from here and the whole house was on the track preparing and training for the annual sports week end.
We had a boy a year older than me who was lightning quick at 800 metres and 1500 metres. Part of the training consisted of windjammers, which simply put consisted of walk, trot, stride and sprint around and around the 400 metres. Fierce tiring it was too then culminating in trail runs, timed of course before going back to the hostel for a shower and then to supper in the dining room. Now this boy aforementioned had just run an astonishing time.
Trekking back to the hostel with one of our new masters, an English teacher, one of the boys trying to make small talk said. “Geez Sir, Connolly’s fast.” To which the reply was, in an incredibly astounded voice. “Fast? Connolly is not fast. When I was a lad I used to do the ‘quarter’ in,” and he gave a time which the current world record holder in the 400 metres or ‘quarter’ would find almost impossible to achieve. And so a legend began, this being. When I was a lad.
The art of tall stories.
This particular teacher was freshly out from old blighty and was his first experience of being out in darkest Africa. Strangely, our country had just rebelled against the Crown and taken out our own Independence. Frankly then, what brought him here remains an enigma or was it a deliberate plot?
As old colonialists we were familiar with British accents across the board. Basically comprising of the classic la, di, dah, voice and the not so classic London East end cockney accent. We were not however connoisseurs with all regional accents which are vast and varied. This master was a type of in-between manfully trying to sound classic. It was an abomination on ears and even as young boys we knew that here was a classic case of ‘more arse than class’.
What made it worse was that he was a prime ‘bullduster’. Now in a long life I have known some champions of this art, but never, has anyone ever come even remotely close to this master. He was the champion of champions, in fact the ‘compleat’ (so frogs will understand)man.These always began with;
“When I was a lad.”
The English Teacher.
Almost impossible to put this down here as there is not enough space. I honestly doubt if every computer known to man and running at once could compete? They’d crash all at once and where would we be then? But believe you me, he had done it all. He had served in all the armed forces, in all the special branches, and some still not known to man. Moreover this also applied to every known sport. ‘When I was a lad I once knocked up 210 not out before tea’. Gentlemen versus Players. Guess who he was playing for?
So I am going to have to cut short this little epistle (space pending), and tell one small story just for fun. In our world at that time playing soccer was tantamount to being the fully blown equivalent of for delicacy purposes let’s just say. “I’m not thataways inclined.” So Americans can understand. Now he had picked up on this. Our English class began with some boy asking him, trying to get off the subject. “Sir, when you were a lad did you play soccer?”
A look of acute pain crossed his manly countenance and to which he replied, scorn pouring out of every word.
“Soccer? I don’t play soccer.”
Then chirping up,
“rugger (rugby), I play rugger.”
Look lads, seeing as this is the last period before lunch, why don’t we go down to the field and play a bit of ‘touch’? A non physical form of rugby in which there is no tackling and once ‘touched’ you have to pass the ball to the opposition and so on and so forth. Delighted, all us boys trekked down to the field all the while congratulating the boy who had posed the great question.Two teams were chosen by the English Master and battle commenced. His side took off their shirts (oh what splendid weather we had then).
Now he had the most unusual running style I have ever witnessed. Both arms came up to chest height and the hands turned into fists. This became like a two piston engine in action, at slow revs, (courtesy of his Navy days). For some reason this made his head nod at high revs and off he went. He weaved and ducked and dived and sidestepped with great aplomb amidst cries of ‘touch’ from the opposition. No, no touch came from him, despite the fact that his back was covered in hand prints we were touching him so hard. I might add, it was a hairy back too. And so the game went on with his side scoring try after try.
Into our midst came a saviour. Non other than ‘Pecker’ West three times Craven week, ‘rugger’ player. He had a shock of red hair and a temper to match it, and by this time he had, had enough. He said to me, “Spook should I tackle him?” Being such a nice guy I said, “tackle him Pecks.’
He slipped into overdrive and the master was making a brave run down the wing close to scoring with his pre-planned dive. We lived in a very dry part and were experiencing a prolonged drought. The field then, was akin to a concrete jungle with the odd blade of grass. It was about this time that Pecker connected. How I wish there were videos in those times because it was the greatest tackle and would have gone viral. Shame, the poor old master could hardly get up but true to form he did. With a, “it’s supposed to be touch West?” Then spotting the loose ball, he pounced and got the winning try, and “now back to the classroom lads.”
Post match analysis.
And another tall story.
Back in the classroom came the teacher once more resplendent in his safari suit, of the shorts variety. From out of which he withdrew a plastic bag. Transparent. In which resided a flannel and a comb. More or less the same process applied as to his running except this time the palms opened, but, the head still did it’s business and the wash was done. The teeth of the comb were so clogged up, God alone knows with what, that it was surprising that it went through his hair? Not that it mattered much as he didn’t have any, apart from from a few widgets on the side, which were artfully combed to provide. A sort of freshly blown by the wind look. After all, we all knew now that women liked their, ‘rugger buggers, rugged’?
“When I was a lad I played many times against Mannetjies Roux, so let me tell you I have ridden some hard tackles. (As he was still new to Afrikaans and hadn’t quite got the gist of it yet, pronounced. ‘Mannacheese’). However, never have I taken such a blow as I did today by West. It was the surprise of it I surmise as being ‘touch’ I wasn’t expecting it.”
Throws back head and laughs.
(For those not in the know, Mannetjies Roux was a legendary Springbok centre, rugby player and inventor of the crash tackle. If he tackled you, you stayed tackled).
“Sir when you were a lad, what position did you play?”
“Wing three quarter stand off scrum eight flanker.” To this day I’m still trying to figure out which position he played, but, no doubt thousands of Kiwi’s will know?
At this time the end of school bell rang. Saved by the bell yet again.