A Juvenile Success

By John Tinney

The dictatorial, purple-faced, square-shaped department head ae Religious Education, Mr Blank, had been summoned. Five ae us were in trouble. Three were good boys led astray and oot ae their element. Me? Ah had experience and wis a little scared, but better prepared fir the disproportionate onslaught. The final guy, a misbehaving maestro and ma mate, Richie, wis a living, breathing nutter, who would crack jokes in a foxhole. He couldnae care less if you paid him in PlayStation games and sanctioned days aff school.  

Mr Blank wis the most feared teacher in the school. A throwback tae a simpler age ae corporal punishment and casual abuse, Blank still seemed a wee bit angry aboot no being able tae crack oot a belt, and hiving tae settle fir mental and verbal assault. During charity collections for starving children, this compassion vacuum wis fond ae telling skinny, largely poor, working-class kids, they were greedy, privileged bastards, while his pendulous stomach choked his shirt and oozed ere his manually pierced belt notches. If ah learned wan thing fae him, it wis irony.

Ah wisnae exactly daein cartwheels aboot him screaming at me wae his aggressively contorted face that seemed mair laxative than human, especially after the abuse he doled oot tae the first three twelve-year-old kids. Two came back through tae collect their bags wae tears running down their cheeks, and the other looked like he wis shellshocked and in dire need ae therapy.

‘You next!’ He said tae Richie. Richie, chewing Juicy Fruit wae the subtlety of Alex Ferguson oan ecstasy, smiled back at me before disappearing intae the next classroom tae stare intae a noisy, abusive abyss. Ah moved closer tae the door tae get a better listen. Apparently, bad language wis only bad when it came fae students. The shouty questions continued fir a few mair seconds. ‘GET BACK HERE!’ But Richie wis off. He casually walked away and became ma new personal hero and an infinite source ae inspiration.  

Blank threw open the door and pointed at me. Ah decided ah wisnae gonnae quiver, be traumatised, or hiv ma face coated in saliva wae impunity. Richie gave me the courage tae stand up fir maself. Noo all ah had tae dae wis override ma fear and gie this sadist something tae think aboot. It didnae change the fact ah wis still too scared tae fart. Puckered up and tight aw ere, ah followed Blank fir some quality alone time.

‘Dae you like being disobedient, eh?!’ He looked and smelled like he’d been drinking coffee and cigarette soup since the womb. This was not the face ae a man, who denied himself anything in spite ae his distaste fir allegedly gluttonous teenagers. Ah shrugged ma shoulders. That wis the honest answer. Ah wis neither here nor there wae it, and whit ah considered disobedience obviously differed fae his interpretation ae it. He didnae appreciate ma response. ‘Are you deliberately trying tae piss off your parents?!’ Perhaps. Maybe this wis a cry fir help. Maybe if they taught Psychology here ah’d know mair aboot the root cause ae ma behaviour.

‘Ma parents ur divorced.’  

‘And?! Would your father not be ashamed of your juvenile behaviour?! Would he no gie you a smack?! Ah know am ashamed tae see kids like you disrespecting ma classrooms!’

‘Ah don’t know. You’d need tae ask him.’

‘Ah will! Ah’ll get him up tae the school right now and we’ll ask him, will we?! Eh?!’

 'He’s working away in Oban fir two weeks.’

‘Is he?!’


‘Well, we’ll get your mother up then and see what she thinks about you being a bad Catholic, eh?! How would she like that, eh?!’

‘Ma ma disnae go tae church. Ah think she’s agnostic.’ His anger wis peaking. Ma guess wis he didnae like lapsed Catholics, or pupils gieing him answers that made him hiv tae think fir mair than a second. He wis mostly instinct and unchecked aggression fuelled by cigarettes and coffee. An army drill sergeant, but no a teacher.

‘Dae you not have any respect for school, your parents, for Jesus Christ?!’ Ah nervously shrugged ma shoulders. Ah had plenty ae respect tae go aroun, but no fir this malignant tube. ‘This is unbelievable! You’re gonnae end up nowhere in life! Take it from me!’

‘As long as am happy.’  He wis offended at any notion ae ma happiness.

‘Don’t you want to learn?!’

‘About whit?’

‘Life, Jesus Christ, the sacrifice he made for you tae be here taking up space!’ Mair spit smacked ma forehead. Ah made a point ae wiping it aff. This didnae exactly endear me tae him.

‘Ah already know aboot Jesus. Ave heard aboot him quite a lot noo.’ Luckily Jesus wis considerably mair interesting, compassionate, inspiring and forgiving than Blank. Tae be fair, so wis Judge Joe Dredd.  

‘This is unbelievable,’ said the guy, who supposedly believed in the Immaculate Conception, Hell, the resurrection, Noah’s ark and a talking donkey. ‘Are you saying you’re bored of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ?!’ Ah shrugged ma shoulders again. ‘You make me want tae be sick! Get out of ma sight!’ Ah’d made him want tae be sick. This wis a proud day fir me. Ah squared things wae Jesus like a good boy and went home wae a smile oan ma face.

school rebellion, conviction, angry teacher