Friday, 16 August 2013

Know him by his trail of breadcrumbs

Quick one today, with it being Friday and everything.

Most of you will (hopefully) have read a few of the stories about my mother, both the ones she features in when she was alive, and those that she still manages to shoe-horn her way into after she'd run down the curtains and joined the choir invisibule.

This one takes place in about 1976 when I was eight and she was still toe-curlingly alive.

Can you imagine the single most embarrassing thing that a Mother can do to her young son?

No, not that, or that, Yes, that probably is more embarrassing, but it's not what I'm talking about... I'll put you out of my misery, she got a job at the school I went to as, what I guess you'd call a Teaching Assistant nowadays.  She had been there there for a while when a position as a cookery (because it was still called cookery then) teacher came up.

She always used to tell us that she got it because she had a certificate from a cookery course that she'd done, but we always knew that she'd put the Head-Teacher in a headlock until he'd agreed - It was common knowledge.

She used to cook all kinds of things, Jam Tarts (When Primary kids were still allowed to heat jam to boiling point), Fudge (With boiling hot sugar), Cakes (The kids put their own stuff in the ovens of the school kitchen), stew (With razor sharp carving knives - Which she always maintained were much safer than those blunt 'Special needs' knives that they were supposed to use... Actually, no-one used the term 'Special Needs' - as it hadn't yet been invented, it was generally held, by teachers and children alike, that the only people who used them were from a large country between China and Russia, and it's capital used to be called Ulan Bator - it was a different time.)

So anyway, there was this one chap,  Let's call him Billy... But only because I can't for the life of me remember his actually name, otherwise I would gladly have used it.  He was sturdily built, certainly no stranger to sweet, fatty foods and possessed of a greasy complexion with straggly hair to match.  His family history, should you have gone back a couple of generations, was of a nomadic nature and the Council-house where he lived was generally believed to be the first bricks and mortar home that anyone in the family had ever had.

And he was a bully.

My Mother was very big on pre-lesson cleanliness, she would check her pupils' hands and nails before they entered class, also going as far as to sniff their hands when they returned from the toilet - Which I understand would be classed as common assault now.

On this particular occasion, the class was making bread and 'Billy' had been returned to the bathroom to 'try washing his hands' about four times before she was satisfied, the girls in the class had started to giggle at him and his face was an angry beetroot colour.

She showed the kids what was expected of them, how you added water to flour and salt and kneaded it until you had a dough etc.  Then she stopped, and showed them her hands.

'She how far the flour goes, it doesn't even pass my wrists.  If I it goes past your wrists, it means that you're being too vigorous, if it goes past your elbows, it means that you are not paying attention... Something for which I will not stand.'

So the kids got on with it, my Mother going from kid to kid, offering encouragement, warning when the flour was making its way towards their armpits... Then she got to Billy... It was safe to say that the flour was past his elbows, quite a lot of it was in his hair, and in fact, some seven years later when his first child was born, it sprang from the womb covered in the same flour, as did his first grandchild, fourteen years later.

So, Mother was upset, the girls started giggling again, which upset Billy, so tensions were high and there may have been shouting and possibly name-calling. Now, for the uninitiated, let me explain that no-one ever shouted at my mother - For years, on the back of all Birth Certificates issued in Derby it said, in large print, 'Oh yes, and another thing, don't shout at Mrs Dandy (Senior) it will be bad.'

With a cry of 'I did warn you that I would be upset!' She picked up Billy, threw him over her shoulder in the manner of an irate fireman, and conveyed him to the school kitchen.  where she opened one of the huge ovens, lit it and made to throw him inside.

She swore, after the fact that she wasn't going to actually put him inside and close the door.

Well, not all the way closed anyway.

Billy didn't know that at the time of course (And no-one was completely convinced after the fact either) - And he became frightened, so frightened in fact that some of his 'fear' may have accidentally leaked out.

She had to throw that particular cheesecloth blouse away.

Terrible waste.

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