Celtic Illumination, part 22, A snatch squad of battle hardened Carmelite nuns.
Many of you wish to know what sources of influence you should bring around yourself to enhance your chances of becoming a prospective apprentice Master Candle Maker. Well; I suppose the answer would be as many as possible, but only those of appropriate quality. At Violent Hell there were two television sets. One upstairs in the senior study hall and one downstairs in the junior study hall. At the beginning of each term we were allowed to vote for the one programme per week that we could watch. As this was an Irish catholic boarding school, where soccer was banned, you can be sure that almost every boy in each study hall would vote for Top of The Pops. I’m not sure that it was the music we were after but we sure did enjoy watching the scantily clad members of Pans People as they would shimmy about for our entertainment.
There were females at Violent Hell, however they were not real females they were nuns. I think as a form of preparation for the cross dressing element of Master Candle Maker we would occasionally be forced to dress as girls with full make up. I suppose for us it was a break from the constant hand to hand combat and beatings and for at least one week the whole school seemed to relax. I might even remember seeing the Bishop with a bit of eye liner on once, of course I could be wrong, it may have been a trick of the light.
As a sort of cover story we would pretend to be performing a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta however, the scary men who existed in the shadows knew precisely what we were doing and why. However the priests had their hands full. Here they were training all of us young fellows; surely they should have expected us to use our newly acquired skills to our advantage.
The most important influence in our lives, or what should have been, girls, was missing. There were a couple of methods used where we could circumvent the strict system employed by the clergy. One was to join the local orchestra. The only drawback was that you would first of all have to join the school orchestra and this of course meant that you had to actually play an instrument, and not only play an instrument but become somewhat proficient at it. This process could take two years, minimum and was a bit of a let-down when you discovered at your first practise with the local Newry orchestra that all the suitable young girls were guarded by a battle hardened snatch squad of Carmelite nuns.