Celtic Illumination, part 23, Billy goats, presidents and water torture.
It is quite obvious now why I was made to endure certain things. In such a strict school as Violent Hell, where we all wore exactly the same uniform, how could such a boy as myself stand out, not that I wanted to. Well; in order to make my training as rigorous and as realistic as possible I was made to wear short trousers for my first two years. The cynics among you will say that it was probably because my parents bought a job lot when I entered the school but the more incisive among you will begin to understand that it was to make me stand out. Not only did I stand out, I really stood out, and not because I had the loveliest legs in Ireland. No; I really stood out because I was the only boy in school to wear short trousers. Had they known about the six fingers on my left hand I doubt if I would have survived
As you can imagine, the other boys noticed my short trousers and would constantly remind me that I was the only boy at school to wear short trousers, which was very decent of them. It certain did ramp up the hand to hand combat skills that would become so important later in life.
Every evening, after evening prayers but before the second study session we would have to go to the quad. This is where our shoe lockers were and where we would change into our slippers and polish our shoes for the next day. So, what equipment would you expect to find in a quadrangle that was used as a shoe storage area? Yes, perhaps cloths, shoe brushes, shoe polish, but no. You must remember that Violent Hell was not a normal school. In the centre of the quad was a water pump. The old cylindrical water pump with the long handle you would have to pump to draw water.
The uninitiated among you will probably wonder why it would be there, but the ones among you who are making good progress will understand that the water pump was there to enable prospective Master Candle Makers like myself to be trained in effective methods in how to resist water torture.
I remember one evening a certain priest, a nasty little man known as the Billy Goat, who taught Greek, was meditating in the quad when a squad of senior boys grabbed me and held me under the pump. As they held me under the gushing water and I fought for my life the Billy Goat pretended to be deep in meditation, immersed in his breviary. Although magnificently dangerous and quite uncomfortable to sit through the second study period dripping all over my homework, and we are talking fountain pens here, I understand it to be much more preferable to boys in common schools who I believe are held upside down in a flushing toilet.
You probably think it remiss of me, or a case of sour grapes, to even consider the fact that the Billy Goat was a nasty little man. I only say this because he was small in stature and quite nasty, however, he was so effective in my training that he was rewarded for his efforts by eventually becoming the president of the school.