Of course school teaches you more than just reading writing and rugby (well at my school anyway! Gawd bless the Royal High, Edinburgh) – the lessons are that honesty and innocence soon melt away into reality and the odd bruise (both physical and mental). That’s the way I learned the lesson of life.. Bullies are always present; it just depends on how you deal with them.
I was first bullied by the standard ‘group of three’; The head bully (who usually does none of the physical stuff); the lunk (who carries out the sore bits); and the toady (who ensures that they don’t get hurt themselves!) To cut a long story short, I was bullied over a matter of weeks, I guess it was just my turn, so ritual water on the front of the shorts to make it look as if I had p##sed myself, or the Chinese Burns – always a favourite – the dead arm, the dead leg, the pencil jab.. You name it..they did it, or rather Lunk carried out instructions.
I had always been told by my mum and granny that fighting was bad, and so I did not fight back, which seemed to have the result that they wanted to bully me more. So one day after a particularly bad session of bullying I walked back down to my home and spilled my guts to granny. She sat and listened quietly and then looked me straight in the eye and said the immortal words that I’m sure grannies say to small boys across the entire world
“Bullies are cowards you just have to hit them once and they leave you alone“.
Now I was getting confused as I been told never to fight, while here was my granny trying to get me to beat the crap out of another boy (okay three, nothing like setting your sights high). My logic circuits were not coping with this, but it was worth a try and when my mother came home from work I said nothing about it. The next day I remember like it was yesterday, it was cold but clear November day and the sky was blue, and all the trees and bushes were stripped of leaves and sharp against the sky. The three boys approached me at first playtime and prime bully ordered another round of torture, but this is when things did not go according to plan, well, for of them at least. I rushed forward, no longer the shy coward and grabbed hold of the lead bully by the scruff of its neck, catching him off balance dragged him forwards towards the clipped rose bushes gathering momentum the whole way. With one last thrust I sent him headfirst into the rose garden, it certainly was not a pretty sight, and the howls would soon attract the teachers, I turned again to see the other two bullies transfixed, motionless, perhaps even petrified. I hate to think what look I had my eye, the bullied was now most certainly in control, a righteous fury that follows me to this day. Down went the bigger bully, soon blubbering at my feet while the other one ran for help.
The teachers came of course, and I was taken to the headmaster, where explained why I had carried out will only be described as quite a vicious kicking. And even explained that my granny had told me to do it, which perhaps a slightly better than saying God did, however even though I had been right to defend myself, and became a hero for almost an entire afternoon to the rest of the class, I was soon to find out that taking matters into your own hands sometimes have their own consequences. In this case it was a rather thick belt with three straps at the end, and yes it hurt, and yes I cried, and yes I deserved it, but boy was it worth it as three bullies never again bullied me or anyone else in the class ever again.
Looking back it’s scary to see violence sometimes being the right thing to do, perhaps it’s something I should have remembered later on. Nowadays I am very slow to anger, in fact it’s almost impossible to make me angry, properly angry. But if you do, make sure there are no rose bushes nearby.
It was this time that I met my best friend, Grant, who lived next door to me in Hamilton Terrace. He was to have a great influence on my life in many ways, and at this point in time there were many influences, most of which were out of my control, so perhaps I should explain a bit more about my family.