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Bring back School Milk...

OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
...It always seemed to be the same few people who regularly shat themselves. It was almost as if they had a reputation to live up to.
...
OK, confession time. It was me. not always, but more than once.
First time, primary school - lovely summers day, sports lesson was cricket. My first time playing cricket, lots of standing around waiting to not catch a ball (we were seven years old yet the PE Commandant insisted we use a proper cricket ball 'to get the feel for the pain' - yes, I still remember those words), anyway, after what felt like hours of getting heatstroke, it was my turn to bat - think the bowler would be another seven year old? oh no, it was the PE Commandant himself.... ball lands precisely at the foot of my (full sized) bat, which I try to block, the ball somehow ran up the bat - which I was looking down, and hit me square on the nose, creating (according to reports) a starburst of claret which knocked me backwards with the shock, I demolised my own stumps and was called as out by the victorious bowler. Slight problem, I appeared to have had a brown starburst in my shorts as well - the evidence was not just in my shorts but also a bit of a brown shadow on the crease.... Cricket practice was declared over and I was left to get myself to the changing rooms and then to the school nurse to deal with my (now encrusted and dried) nosebleed.
Second time - cross country in secondary school. The course was over the low moors at the back of the school, some of it was on farm tracks, most of it was over (not through) farm gates, stiles and walls, across fields and, dependent upon the weather, through marshland and sucking mud. It wasn't uncommon for the fields to have livestock in them - usually just sheep, a few dairy cattle and occasionally pigs. One occasion there was an unusually large number of dairy cattle in one of the fields - as usual, I was near the front of the pack, not because I was any good, more that the 'fodder' were sent ahead to find out which fields were safe to cross so the cool kids could avoid death, loss of limbs or being forever lost to the pigs digestion system. Anyway, into the field of cows I went, halfway across I became aware of the cows moving out of my way a bit sharpish - very sharpish, a quick glance over my shoulder saw a very big, black cow bull heading towards me on an intercept... somehow I made it to the stile on the other side of the field, managed to cross it in one bound and as I headed for the grass the other side, felt a 'warm glow' in the back of my shorts... It wasn't warm by the time I got back to school and took some scraping off in the showers, much to the disgust and hilarity of the rest of the class.

Third & final time - secondary school and 'sports' again. Enforced football, as usual I was one of the last to be 'chosen' for a team. The usual misery of fruitlessly chasing the ball around interspersed with standing still in the sleet waiting for something to happen was interrupted by a gurgling stomach and an increasing pain in the lower bowel. The sports Commandant was having none of my request to go to the loo and seemed not to notice my stomach cramps or inability to move at anything above an awkward walking pace. At the end of the torture, I beat all the sportists back to the changing rooms and headed straight for the single cubicle - which was locked... some bastard was already in there! So I paced around, not daring to try & get changed or bend over, I was already walking like a penguin. Then it happened - one of the sportists kicked a football, which bounced off a wall and hit me square on the back of the head, in turn, releasing the now uncontainable river of brown that Willy Wonka would have been proud of.... All I could do was stand there as the liquid filled my boots and the soft lumps slowly decended down my legs, the kid in the cubicle came out to the absolute silence - apart from the bubbling out of my @rse, stared, then did an about turn to puke his ring up, apparently he wasn't the only one. I was sent home in a taxi wrapped in bin bags.

Happy days!
 

Yokel

LE
It seems there are some common themes on this thread, such as PE teachers not worrying about things such as health and safety. I also remember encountering things such as main roads, farm animals, and barbed wire fences whilst cross country running, and a casual attitude to being knocked out with a cricket bat.

Mind you, it was not the only area where H&S was lacking. I remember being bollocked for refusing to use a tape recorder with the bare cables exposed - this was before PAT testing.
 

OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
It seems there are some common themes on this thread, such as PE teachers not worrying about things such as health and safety. I also remember encountering things such as main roads, farm animals, and barbed wire fences whilst cross country running, and a casual attitude to being knocked out with a cricket bat.

Mind you, it was not the only area where H&S was lacking. I remember being bollocked for refusing to use a tape recorder with the bare cables exposed - this was before PAT testing.
Oh, we had a 'science' lesson where we were taught how to wire a 13A plug, this was not long after the changeover from 'Wylex' plugs so a valid lesson TBH, where it fell down was that we each had to put our plugs in the socket and switch on the light in the metal lampholder at the other end of the cable. This was in the days before RCD's / RCBO's.
From memory there were no deaths, just a few burns.
ETA- we had a woodwork teacher that insisted we learned to use an Adze because 'in trained hands, it's as good as a plane'...
 
Oh, we had a 'science' lesson where we were taught how to wire a 13A plug, this was not long after the changeover from 'Wylex' plugs so a valid lesson TBH, where it fell down was that we each had to put our plugs in the socket and switch on the light in the metal lampholder at the other end of the cable. This was in the days before RCD's / RCBO's.
We still teach wiring a plug, albeit not for any real practical use as almost everything comes with a moulded plug now. It is useful to explain the concepts of live, neutral and earth wires in a circuit though. If I suggested plugging in the finished articles I'd be in for a standing chat with the Head before I could say "whoops". Some Health and Safety is a good idea :)

I did have to explain to a child why sticking a straightened paper clip into a plug socket was a really bad idea (fortunately he was going to tickle the earth terminal so no real danger that time) a few years ago. Almost got in trouble for referring to the potential Darwin Award winner as a fucking mong under my breath until I told the boss what the context was.
 

Yokel

LE
What is an Adze?

On the topic of unsafe events, at the age of fourteen we had a school camping trip. It was shite? One day I had opted to go abseiling and rock climbing. They took us to Baggy Point in North Devon. The instructions on putting on the gear must have been said just once with no checking, as I paused at a ledge and the instructor came down to encourage me to go on. He then spotted that the rope/harness was not done up properly.
 

OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
What is an Adze?

On the topic of unsafe events, at the age of fourteen we had a school camping trip. It was shite? One day I had opted to go abseiling and rock climbing. They took us to Baggy Point in North Devon. The instructions on putting on the gear must have been said just once with no checking, as I paused at a ledge and the instructor came down to encourage me to go on. He then spotted that the rope/harness was not done up properly.
An adze is basically a felling axe with the head turned 90 degrees and curved. you stand over the wood (usually a big baulk of timber, not 3" x 2")to be 'planed' and swing the adze between your legs to shave the timber to the requred shape & size. With a few years of experience an adult can produce work to a good standard, a nine year old is lucky to survive with their ankles intact.
 

PFGEN

GCM
Reading through that lot brings back a flood of memories. The school piano was transferred from is position the gym to the assembly hall every Wednesday. Headmaster and staff on the slightly raised dais and several goons posted round the hall to prevent escape or pull out any miscreants.

Sometimes assembly would start with punishment. This was reserved for severe misdemeanours, the guilty having already been paraded on stage. One by one they would receive the prescribed number of strokes of the belt. Generally it was the school hardmen who would try their best not to start blubbing. Of course the head would put in extra effort to make sure that one or two would start yelping.

Prior to one of these "pour decourager les autres" events a small group of us had sabotaged the school piano the day before by the simple expedient of placing tracing paper between the hammers and strings. After punishment parade was over the morning hymn would begin. Music teacher took up her place and belted out the first chords on what sounded like a honky tonk piano in a western bar. Even a few of the staff had to try hard not to laugh. We had to keep our heads well down in the ensuing pogrom.

There has been mention of various gymnasia with showers. What are these things called showers. None of those for us, after rugby or football the end of the day in weather more commonly associated with the Bering Sea it was dry off as best you could, get dressed and head for home covered in a mixture of mud and rain. In winter there were no lights on the sports field and as often as not one of the goalies or defenders would lose interest and bugger of home mid game under the cover of darkness. Those of us who were shit at football were always the last chosen and put at the back.

My cricket career was all of about 10 seconds. We were told selection for the school team would take place on sports afternoon. Mother was excited thinking her sprog was going to participate in something as refined as cricket and maybe would turn out alright after all. As usual I disappointed her. My name was called, I waddled into my place in front of the stumps. Somebody threw a ball and the chemistry teacher who ran the cricket team shouted out. "Out? I haven't done anything yet." "LBW, Out, remove yourself from the field." Still not knowing what had happened I threw a wobbly, stomped off and threw the cricket bat thing over my head backwards. That landed on one of the fielders and knocked him out. Parents summoned to school, mother resigned to her son being a failure and father got some exercise in leathering the bejesus out of me.

The only two school sports I was any good at was throwing the javelin and field hockey. Even Mong would consider me being unsupervised with a javelin as going a bit far. That was substituted for a shot put which I promptly lobbed down one of the drains.

Once a year there was a staff-pupil hockey game. Although coming from the heathens north of the wall we didn't so much play hockey as a field version of moving golf. We hospitalised three teachers in one game and the event was removed from the calendar.
 

Sexton Blake

War Hero
And so came summer. Cricket was out as with 22 people notionally involved only 4 would actually be doing anything; a bowler, one of a very small minority who could be trusted to hurl a solid object without being actively dangerous, two batsmen who were in the same minority but could also swing a piece of wood about without being actively dangerous, and a wicket keeper who was a victim of earlier attempts to widen the minority out a bit and had been clouted by bats and balls to such an extent that brain injuries were no longer much of an issue. They’d just go on to be actively dangerous to society in later life.

With just 4 out of 22 doing something in cricket, a new endeavour that ensured the required amount of physical suffering for all throughout the summer needed to be found. They called it athletics.


My own work. I’ve been sketching out a none too serious Life Of An Ordinary Bloke for a while now, and school was / is a big part of it. Most of it is true to life but with a bit of spin and obviously names changed to protect the guilty.

The idea was to write something that Ordinary Blokes could relate to “feck, that’s Mrs Biggins from Sewer Street Primary to a tee” kind of thing.

I wrote a weekly news sheet for a couple of years during Blair’s reign that got distributed around a few local pubs. It was a pre woke piss take of the emerging anti British shite his tribe were peddling, things like exposes on Jaqui Smith’s bath plug etc.

It was well received, got me a few pints and I’ve always enjoyed writing with a sideways view from an Ordinary Bloke, none of this “I was abused so I must be heard” bollocks. Being furloughed has sort of reignited it.

I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it and it’s a useful bench test as to whether I think I’m funny or other people think it’s funny. A few guys have launched books off the back of Arrse critiques over the years, Picking up the brass was one, a sequel, Map of Africa and another was about a guy and his search dog in NI, I forget the title. All were bloody funny and any squaddie Was immediately right there with them.
Toastie,

Rather late in the day (or more accurately early in the morning) but thank you for such a brilliant bit of work.

I was snoring snot and laughing out loud in Helmsley square yesterday reading your posts while being watched apprehensively by about 20 bikers and embarrassing Mrs SB in the process.

Outstanding.
 
@PFGEN

Hockey, a field version of moving golf.

Nicked. :mrgreen:
 
OK, confession time. It was me. not always, but more than once.
First time, primary school - lovely summers day, sports lesson was cricket. My first time playing cricket, lots of standing around waiting to not catch a ball (we were seven years old yet the PE Commandant insisted we use a proper cricket ball 'to get the feel for the pain' - yes, I still remember those words), anyway, after what felt like hours of getting heatstroke, it was my turn to bat - think the bowler would be another seven year old? oh no, it was the PE Commandant himself.... ball lands precisely at the foot of my (full sized) bat, which I try to block, the ball somehow ran up the bat - which I was looking down, and hit me square on the nose, creating (according to reports) a starburst of claret which knocked me backwards with the shock, I demolised my own stumps and was called as out by the victorious bowler. Slight problem, I appeared to have had a brown starburst in my shorts as well - the evidence was not just in my shorts but also a bit of a brown shadow on the crease.... Cricket practice was declared over and I was left to get myself to the changing rooms and then to the school nurse to deal with my (now encrusted and dried) nosebleed.
Second time - cross country in secondary school. The course was over the low moors at the back of the school, some of it was on farm tracks, most of it was over (not through) farm gates, stiles and walls, across fields and, dependent upon the weather, through marshland and sucking mud. It wasn't uncommon for the fields to have livestock in them - usually just sheep, a few dairy cattle and occasionally pigs. One occasion there was an unusually large number of dairy cattle in one of the fields - as usual, I was near the front of the pack, not because I was any good, more that the 'fodder' were sent ahead to find out which fields were safe to cross so the cool kids could avoid death, loss of limbs or being forever lost to the pigs digestion system. Anyway, into the field of cows I went, halfway across I became aware of the cows moving out of my way a bit sharpish - very sharpish, a quick glance over my shoulder saw a very big, black cow bull heading towards me on an intercept... somehow I made it to the stile on the other side of the field, managed to cross it in one bound and as I headed for the grass the other side, felt a 'warm glow' in the back of my shorts... It wasn't warm by the time I got back to school and took some scraping off in the showers, much to the disgust and hilarity of the rest of the class.

Third & final time - secondary school and 'sports' again. Enforced football, as usual I was one of the last to be 'chosen' for a team. The usual misery of fruitlessly chasing the ball around interspersed with standing still in the sleet waiting for something to happen was interrupted by a gurgling stomach and an increasing pain in the lower bowel. The sports Commandant was having none of my request to go to the loo and seemed not to notice my stomach cramps or inability to move at anything above an awkward walking pace. At the end of the torture, I beat all the sportists back to the changing rooms and headed straight for the single cubicle - which was locked... some bastard was already in there! So I paced around, not daring to try & get changed or bend over, I was already walking like a penguin. Then it happened - one of the sportists kicked a football, which bounced off a wall and hit me square on the back of the head, in turn, releasing the now uncontainable river of brown that Willy Wonka would have been proud of.... All I could do was stand there as the liquid filled my boots and the soft lumps slowly decended down my legs, the kid in the cubicle came out to the absolute silence - apart from the bubbling out of my @rse, stared, then did an about turn to puke his ring up, apparently he wasn't the only one. I was sent home in a taxi wrapped in bin bags.

Happy days!

I still consider you a friend, just a more distant friend ;-)
 
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You always knew when the athletics season was imminent as Sqn Ldr Utter-Bastard (Retd), the maths master, set the class a problem: Calculate the radius of the curves on the Athletics track. Now, most people would say “pffft, easy. Each side is 100m so each curve has to be 100m“. Well, yes and no. Firstly, this was the 70’s and we didn’t use those foreign measurements, we used Imperial ones, as in having (had) an Empire. The full track was 440 yards so The Mile, the ancestor of today’s 1500m race and more of which later, was 4 full laps or 1760 yards. The smartarses who were going “pffft” a sentence or two back aren’t do smug now are you. Circular geometry in feet and inches, stuff for Real Men. Next, the 110 yard curve only applied to the inside of the inside lane so you got to do double maths in calculating the stagger in the outer lanes so everyone ran / ambled the same distance.

These figures were then passed to Monsieur Alpohonse, the art teacher. He was actually a Moroccan pimp on the run from Interpol but the School Governors reasoned that having a French sounding art teacher leant an air of respectability to the dank cupboard with all surfaces representing a Jackson Pollock masterpiece that was more formally referred to as The Art Room. Something else they reasoned was that the janitor couldn’t be trusted to use the lime filled line making machine as the track would end up looking like the wiring diagram for the Space Shuttle. Lime is a kind of paint so the job defaulted to the kind of art teacher.

After two days of painstaking and precise work involving ropes, line marking machines and threats of sale to a mate in Montmartre to any kid seen within 50 yards of the process, the genuine masterpiece was complete. It truly was a thing of beauty.

The janitor then decided the grass on the school field needed mowing and erased the bloody lot.

Monsieur Alphonse reached for the stiletto in his waistband, remembered where he was and went down town to buy a gallon of weed killer which was then used to permanently mark the track out which was inspired if regrettable once the seasons changed and the football pitch needed marking out as we were now back at the wiring diagram state of affairs. It also took Fatty Simkins out in a fairly big way, probably his intention given his aversion to movement, in that his party piece, pretending to be a cow and eating grass had an unfortunate outcome. He returned to school about 3 months later looking like a tapeworm in uniform and he went on to be an athlete of some repute in later life. Who knew?

So we were now ready to go. The sun was beating down, butterflies danced on the gentle breeze, the smell of freshly mown grass, weed killer and Fatty Simkins’ partially digested and now projectile vomited three breakfasts filled the air and we had a bit of waste ground masquerading as Crystal Palace.

Bring on the gladiators.
 
OK, confession time. It was me. not always, but more than once.
First time, primary school - lovely summers day, sports lesson was cricket. My first time playing cricket, lots of standing around waiting to not catch a ball (we were seven years old yet the PE Commandant insisted we use a proper cricket ball 'to get the feel for the pain' - yes, I still remember those words), anyway, after what felt like hours of getting heatstroke, it was my turn to bat - think the bowler would be another seven year old? oh no, it was the PE Commandant himself.... ball lands precisely at the foot of my (full sized) bat, which I try to block, the ball somehow ran up the bat - which I was looking down, and hit me square on the nose, creating (according to reports) a starburst of claret which knocked me backwards with the shock, I demolised my own stumps and was called as out by the victorious bowler.

Slight problem, I appeared to have had a brown starburst in my shorts as well - the evidence was not just in my shorts but also a bit of a brown shadow on the crease.... Cricket practice was declared over and I was left to get myself to the changing rooms and then to the school nurse to deal with my (now encrusted and dried) nosebleed.


Second time - cross country in secondary school. The course was over the low moors at the back of the school, some of it was on farm tracks, most of it was over (not through) farm gates, stiles and walls, across fields and, dependent upon the weather, through marshland and sucking mud. It wasn't uncommon for the fields to have livestock in them - usually just sheep, a few dairy cattle and occasionally pigs. One occasion there was an unusually large number of dairy cattle in one of the fields - as usual, I was near the front of the pack, not because I was any good, more that the 'fodder' were sent ahead to find out which fields were safe to cross so the cool kids could avoid death, loss of limbs or being forever lost to the pigs digestion system.

Anyway, into the field of cows I went, halfway across I became aware of the cows moving out of my way a bit sharpish - very sharpish, a quick glance over my shoulder saw a very big, black cow bull heading towards me on an intercept... somehow I made it to the stile on the other side of the field, managed to cross it in one bound and as I headed for the grass the other side, felt a 'warm glow' in the back of my shorts... It wasn't warm by the time I got back to school and took some scraping off in the showers, much to the disgust and hilarity of the rest of the class.

Third & final time - secondary school and 'sports' again. Enforced football, as usual I was one of the last to be 'chosen' for a team. The usual misery of fruitlessly chasing the ball around interspersed with standing still in the sleet waiting for something to happen was interrupted by a gurgling stomach and an increasing pain in the lower bowel. The sports Commandant was having none of my request to go to the loo and seemed not to notice my stomach cramps or inability to move at anything above an awkward walking pace. At the end of the torture, I beat all the sportists back to the changing rooms and headed straight for the single cubicle - which was locked... some bastard was already in there! So I paced around, not daring to try & get changed or bend over, I was already walking like a penguin.

Then it happened - one of the sportists kicked a football, which bounced off a wall and hit me square on the back of the head, in turn, releasing the now uncontainable river of brown that Willy Wonka would have been proud of.... All I could do was stand there as the liquid filled my boots and the soft lumps slowly descended down my legs, the kid in the cubicle came out to the absolute silence - apart from the bubbling out of my @rse, stared, then did an about turn to puke his ring up, apparently he wasn't the only one. I was sent home in a taxi wrapped in bin bags.

Happy days!


Easier to read, easier on the eye.
 
I absolutely hated 1970's 80's school, miserable place run by bitter teachers who hated the kids. Another Brick in the Wall, summed it up perfectly. Such a revelation to visit my kids schools these days, happy places filled with colour and teachers who are decent human beings.
Got it in one. Our lot all wanted to be college lecturers instead of slumming it with primary and secondary kids. One of them actually made the break and got a slot in the local University and the rest of the teachers treated him like an escapee from Colditz who'd made a Home Run.
 

Yokel

LE
You always knew when the athletics season was imminent as Sqn Ldr Utter-Bastard (Retd), the maths master, set the class a problem: Calculate the radius of the curves on the Athletics track. Now, most people would say “pffft, easy. Each side is 100m so each curve has to be 100m“. Well, yes and no. Firstly, this was the 70’s and we didn’t use those foreign measurements, we used Imperial ones, as in having (had) an Empire. The full track was 440 yards so The Mile, the ancestor of today’s 1500m race and more of which later, was 4 full laps or 1760 yards. The smartarses who were going “pffft” a sentence or two back aren’t do smug now are you. Circular geometry in feet and inches, stuff for Real Men. Next, the 110 yard curve only applied to the inside of the inside lane so you got to do double maths in calculating the stagger in the outer lanes so everyone ran / ambled the same distance.

These figures were then passed to Monsieur Alpohonse, the art teacher. He was actually a Moroccan pimp on the run from Interpol but the School Governors reasoned that having a French sounding art teacher leant an air of respectability to the dank cupboard with all surfaces representing a Jackson Pollock masterpiece that was more formally referred to as The Art Room. Something else they reasoned was that the janitor couldn’t be trusted to use the lime filled line making machine as the track would end up looking like the wiring diagram for the Space Shuttle. Lime is a kind of paint so the job defaulted to the kind of art teacher.

After two days of painstaking and precise work involving ropes, line marking machines and threats of sale to a mate in Montmartre to any kid seen within 50 yards of the process, the genuine masterpiece was complete. It truly was a thing of beauty.

The janitor then decided the grass on the school field needed mowing and erased the bloody lot.

Monsieur Alphonse reached for the stiletto in his waistband, remembered where he was and went down town to buy a gallon of weed killer which was then used to permanently mark the track out which was inspired if regrettable once the seasons changed and the football pitch needed marking out as we were now back at the wiring diagram state of affairs. It also took Fatty Simkins out in a fairly big way, probably his intention given his aversion to movement, in that his party piece, pretending to be a cow and eating grass had an unfortunate outcome. He returned to school about 3 months later looking like a tapeworm in uniform and he went on to be an athlete of some repute in later life. Who knew?

So we were now ready to go. The sun was beating down, butterflies danced on the gentle breeze, the smell of freshly mown grass, weed killer and Fatty Simkins’ partially digested and now projectile vomited three breakfasts filled the air and we had a bit of waste ground masquerading as Crystal Palace.

Bring on the gladiators.

Out of interest when did the term 'Janitor' enter common usage this side of the Atlantic?

Anyway, you were lucky to be taught Maths. My school used the woeful Kent Mathematics Project which relied on the kids knowing what they should be learning and depended on being able to find the right card in the box. Some seemed to go missing

I absolutely hated 1970's 80's school, miserable place run by bitter teachers who hated the kids. Another Brick in the Wall, summed it up perfectly. Such a revelation to visit my kids schools these days, happy places filled with colour and teachers who are decent human beings.
Got it in one. Our lot all wanted to be college lecturers instead of slumming it with primary and secondary kids. One of them actually made the break and got a slot in the local University and the rest of the teachers treated him like an escapee from Colditz who'd made a Home Run.

In the early nineties my school just seem obsessed with finding members of sports teams and not excluding anyone.
 
Out of interest when did the term 'Janitor' enter common usage this side of the Atlantic?

Anyway, you were lucky to be taught Maths. My school used the woeful Kent Mathematics Project which relied on the kids knowing what they should be learning and depended on being able to find the right card in the box. Some seemed to go missing



In the early nineties my school just seem obsessed with finding members of sports teams and not excluding anyone.

You’re right. Bugger. It should be “caretaker”. Historical accuracy is passé nowadays do thank you for your service, I can’t be bothered to change it but will “going forward”.

Exclusion, especially in sport was a foundation of education. Many today see that as a bad thing but it taught failure as a part of life and also it ignored the other side of the same coin, most schools worked hard to find something that everyone was good at, the somethings were all different for different people and taught that everyone is good at something, go find it.
 
Out of interest when did the term 'Janitor' enter common usage this side of the Atlantic?
Janitor ("Jannie") was common in Scotland in the 1970s, used for the brown-coated wielder of the sawdust bucket.
 
My parents were 'ok' with it, my grandparents took some time to get used to it, occasionally gently encouraging me to favour the right (didn't work - if anything, it made me equally able with both hands). At college it gave me an edge in fencing of all things - swordsmanship that is, not erecting agricultural demarcations.

I was originally from the Yorkshire Dales, we moved to Lancashire in the early 70's due to my Fathers work. At that time there was an education system in Lancashire called ITA (initial teaching aid) which focussed on phonetics (presumably because Lancs were as thick as fcuk and couldn't spell or read proper English). Because i'd learnt to read & write in 'normal' English before crossing the border, this ITA nonsense put me behind in the schools measure of development, consequentially, I was sent to the 'remedial room' with the mongs, divs and kids with eye patches and pink glasses for an hour a day until I was old enough to move on to 'proper' English, when I went to pretty much the top of the class, much to the pleasure of my parents and the exasperation of my teachers.

Yep. If you're fencing from the "wrong side" it's easier to parry.
 
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