I believe I was quite an innocuous wee girl at primary school. I did my work, liked to read, liked to colour in. My friends and I squabbled incessantly, but question authority? It wouldn’t have occurred to me. You have to respect those put in authority don’t you?
Our P6 and P7 teacher was the deputy head and, as a result, spent a lot of time out of the classroom. It was then that he put a boy called Jimmy Mitchell in charge. Stood in front of us in the space we called “the floor”, he lorded over us. He wasn’t even my age; he’d been demoted from a class of boys above us who were all academically thick. But Jimmy had a highly developed native wit and was one of the world’s natural bullies. Not brawny, he was skinny and mean faced. Taunting us younger kids, none of us moved, none of us spoke as we were subjected to his hard-lipped, closed-mouthed insults. He was an instinctive thug.
Anyway, this particular time he was in charge of the class and for some reason he materialised right in front of my desk, at eye-level. Maybe I’d been reading, tuning him out, so he’d decided to creep up on me. I can still see his twisted face right in front of mine 55 years on. I can’t remember what he said but it was unpleasant. I was incensed. I grabbed my pencil case. You know what little girls’ pencil cases are like: chunky, stuffed full, the contents all well sharpened and bright coloured. They were a matter of pride and status.
Without thinking I bopped him on the head with it. Not hard, just a bop. But to my horror his face crumpled and he burst into tears.
Shock buzzed around the room.
“Hazel Fordyce hit Jimmy Mitchell on the head.”
“She hit him on the head.”
“On the head!”
I was horrified at what I had done, and afraid of what would happen next. I expected big trouble.
Do you know I never heard another word about it. When the deputy head, Mr. Bradie, came back he didn’t say a thing about it to me…ever. I sometimes wonder if he put a known bully in charge deliberately to try and keep us in order. Well I stopped it, anyway. A timid wee girl but the bully in his place.