Cheese and Wine

In 1983, I was in 6th year at a small secondary school. One Friday in the spring, when the school was quiet and the teachers were too pre-occupied to notice, my friends and I decided to seize upon an unexpected opportunity. We all had every Friday morning after 11am as study time and got to spend this in our common room, which happened to double as the library. It was on the top floor of the school near the art department and the art teacher happened to be away that day on a field trip with the year below. One of our number had recently turned 18 and had decided we should take this opportunity to have a secret cheese and wine party. A couple of us decided it would be safer if we didn’t have any alcohol and just had the cheese. That way, we could answer the door and do our corridor duty at lunchtime without anyone suspecting.

We had a lovely time. The wine seemed to be good, the cheese and snacks we got were really tasty and we had nice music playing softly in the background as we pretended to study.

At lunchtime, the sober amongst us and two of the guys who seemed to be ok, went to do our corridor duty. During a quiet time when everyone else was outside, I was standing next to Colin and I realised from the way he was leaning, that the snacks he had eaten had dissolved and given way to the wine. He suddenly turned to me, with a quizzical expression on his face and said, in a slightly slurred yet cool, enquiring voice, “Do you want to go out with me?” His tone had a kind of enquiring anxiety about it, as if he thought I might want to and the idea of this concerned him in a negative way. I was both taken aback and desperate to allay the fears he seemed to be expressing and, also taking into account his lack of sobriety, turned to him and said “No” in a voice indicating a reassuring kind of ‘don’t worry, of course not’ tone. After that, he kind of slumped and sloped off for a while.

Around this time, one of the girls in our group was sick and had to go home, and none of the staff said anything.

A little later, it was the weekly prefects meeting, and as planned, the sober ones sat round the table, and everyone else sat on the floor. The headmistress appeared and conducted the meeting. At the end, she paused for a moment, and started to ask an incidental question. We all sat there, breath held quietly, awaiting our fate...

We all released a deep sigh of relief as she reminded us to make sure we properly rotated who was on corridor duty at lunchtimes. After she left, we realised we may have got lucky that day, but that another morning of cheese and wine may be pushing our luck.

school rebellion, close call