Alive and still breathing

April 1, 2017

Diary 1st April

April fool’s day.


In which case should I write about the Fish woman leading a tartan clad army in an invasion of England? A fish unable to let go of the distant past; a Fish consequently obsessing about irrelevancies?

No modern leader of Scotland can ever live up to the example set by Mel Gibson. Now there was a first minister worth dying for!


Alas, freedom is not a quality found in Brussels. As the Irish like to say: “Imeacht gan teacht ort” which tells us everything, doesn’t it?


I would like my fiction to profoundly disturb. It should be an open door that leads where the reader would never normally have consented to go; a door that simply twists reality into mind warping arabesques…


School days in mind, again. Teachers, male and female, observing their young charges (us) during the lunch break. Noisy Cherubim and Seraphim are we, scattered around the playground in small gossiping groups (no ball games are allowed).

What thoughts filled the heads of those blackgowned masters and mistresses, standing together like big black bats beside the stacked milk crates?

Their job, after all, was to forcibly conventionalise us as potential miniatures of themselves. But children are such unruly barbarians, aren’t they So did they perhaps, these teachers, envision myriad bare bottoms, offered up as targets to their swishy canes?

We Cherubim and Seraphim had ‘normal’ bourgeois backgrounds. But many of us harboured infantile fantasies of burning schools, and the spontaneous combustion of hated individual members of staff.

Like Miss Boil…

Boil the Bitch” she was nicknamed. And bitch she most certainly was. Quick tempered. A firey Irish redhead, with a short fuse. She liked to group three rulers together on her desk; she’d use these to lash out and strike the backs of the hands of any child within easy reach – when the mood was upon her. She took an unspeakable delight in this, and the tears of her victims…the red marks on soft flesh.

It seemed to us at the time, that her pleasure was heightened when her blows landed on bare legs or arms. She was our form mistress and always condemned our slovenly dress or poor hygiene or careless homework – there was something almost fetishistic in her behavior! As if, deep down, she hated children. Hated us.

Once Ken B was caught picking his nose and eating the secreta. Boil, screaming, hacked at him with her rulers. Vicious blows to legs, backside. The rulers broke. Backing away from her, Ken tripped over a chair; ended up on the floor, his legs in the air supported by the chair – and the Boil grabbed and twisted between his spread legs.

All in that classroom were shocked by the unexpected severity of her outburst. It was bad even for the Boil. Worse, of course, for snot-eating Ken, who fainted through pain and the shock of what she did to him…

And what of Mr Varmā our teacher of mathematics? He spent most of his time having the class learn theorems. He enjoyed (apparently) having his pupils recite them from memory. The rest of his time he spent telling us, the Cherubim and Seraphim, of the mind blasting punishments that lay in store if we should fail in our recitation. He took particular delight in describing an occasion in some other school when he had caned a boy who’d failed to memorize his theorems –

‘I caned him and caned him and caned him ‘til the blood flowed…’ This recounted in the high, shrill voice of a closet sadist.

‘But surely not, I hear you cry.’ This must be an exaggeration or make-believe. Teachers like that couldn’t possibly exist!

Au contraire mes enfants.

The above is true. Certainly I’ve played with chronology. Miss Boil was form mistress at Chester Collage; Mr Varmā was maths teacher at Riverside in Harrow Weald. There were a couple of years between these unhappy encounters. But both were unstable individuals in positions they should never have held.

But we, the Cherubim and Seraphim, daily underwent psychostasy at their hands. We had to put up with the trials and tribulations; the ordeals and outrage. The pair of them were nutjobs who managed to fool the powers that be for a time. Ultimately, we, the Cherubim and Seraphim, should throw roses into the abyss in thanks that we weren’t devoured by these monsters.


You bury the past, but with a will of its own it digs itself free to confront you again. Was it not Max Beerbohm who wrote: ‘The past is a work of art, free of irrelevancies and loose ends.’ Well, recalling my past now, in relative tranquility, it seems full of ‘loose ends’ and ‘irrelevancies’…

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