Celtic Illumination, part 43, expelled again with rugby on the croquet lawn
I began to use many of the espionage skills I had learned to make myself invisible to the priests at Violent Hell. That is on the days that I would actually go to school. Even when there I would still use the well-known spy trick of hiding in open sight. The most convenient and simplest hiding place to access was under the main stair well. Not many people knew about this place and to nip in and out when there were crowds of boys running up and down the staircase was the easiest thing to do. It was directly across from the president’s office and provided you were quiet you could stay for as long as you wanted.
There was still corporal punishment at Violent Hell; however the priests decided to add another level to the whole punishment scenario. Rather than an explosion of violence, they decided to implement a system that would stay with you for a number of years. The president of the school normally became Bishop, so for most of the boys going into medicine or the legal profession you would continually be meeting the existing president and bishop throughout your career. Although I was not aware of it at the time, as I was meant for a much higher calling as Master Candle Maker, Chief of the O Neill Clan and King of Ireland, their rural cliques held no interest for me whatsoever.
What they decided was, that if you were to be disciplined you would be sent from the classroom to the president’s office. Here you would sign for a cane, therefore leaving a permanent record of your punishment, not the why, but the fact that you were being punished. Of course those boys who were signing the book on a regular basis soon found that they would constantly be reminded about the frequency of their entries in the book.
The book was continually checked and signed by the president so you knew every time that you met him he was aware that you had been punished and that would continue well into adult life. Devilishly clever fellows these priests. Once you had signed for the cane you took it back to the classroom, the theory being that you had given the priest time to cool down. He would administer the punishment, you would thank him and then return the cane to the president’s office and sign it back in.
One day I was sent out of the classroom and told to go to the president’s office and get a cane. I walked into the secretary’s office, which was empty, so went over to the president’s office and knocked. No reply. I knocked again. Still no reply, so I went in. The office was empty so I went over to the old wooden cupboard in the corner and opened it. I saw a good dozen, if not more, canes sloped in the locker. I wondered which I should choose, a long one, a short one, or a thick or thin one?
I snapped. I took them all, but instead of obediently returning to the classroom and accepting my punishment I went out through the main doors of the school, stormed across the car parking area and dumped the canes on the croquet lawn. I turned, faced the school, then began breaking and twisting and snapping the canes, one at a time.
I’m not sure how many canes I managed to destroy. Forward, and to my right, I saw one boy, who had noticed me, lean out of a window and cheer. Other boys gradually joined in, till every window at the front of the school was open and jammed with boys cheering and waving. I focused on them as in my peripheral vision I could see the black flapping robes of priests, like crows descending on fresh road kill, home in on me. This is where I experienced my first ever illegal rugby tackle, and we didn’t even play rugby at Violent Hell.
I was imprisoned in the president’s bedroom. Why? I don’t know. The parents were sent for and it was with great glee that they were informed I was expelled. This time it was for good, I was never coming back. It was bad enough for mum and dad for me to be expelled once, but to get expelled for a second time was incomprehensible for them. They wondered if I was aware of the shame I had brought on the family. I wondered if they knew that I was a hero to every boy in that school.