The Rebel with the baby soft hands

By Hamish Craigtharoch

What is a rebel?


What is a rebel? Was I a rebel? Am I a rebel? Are you born a rebel and if so, do you stay a rebel? Or does life with its kicks and knocks, whack the rebel out of you, leaving a conformist in its wake? Who wants to be different anyway?: an outcast in society, a rule breaker, a refuter of what others have to say. 


I do! I don’t want to live in a colourless world, where purples and oranges on the clothes you wear, make people stand and stare and say out loud “what is she wearing!” I want my voice to be heard and fight the unjust. I refuse to splash my life over social media, so I too can have copious friends with a million likes. I need to be loved by my family and friends, but I don’t need to like and be liked in a world where my data is sold off to make millionaires.


Are rebels born?


Rebels come kicking and dancing from their mother’s womb. The cut of the umbilical cord setting them free, awakening a force willing them to elect who they want to be. My first act of rebellion was biting a bum when I was three. Whaaaaaaaaaaaa, the child did shriek killing the sound of play. Chaos erupting and mother’s sparring, I was to be punished- bitten too!! No way roars my mother bundling me up and tearing away. 


Can you thrash out rebelliousness? 


My next act of rebellion was when I was five, spotting the girl who sits in the desk in front of me, thick blonde hair and big blue eyes, skipping along the CANAL bank we children did fear. I think to myself how come she is there and I am here. Her mother being near at hand – a hint maybe? With impetuous resolve I dash to the CANAL and directly feel free!!! Unfortunately I did not spot the busy bee – a boy spying on me. Back in the classroom, with a feeling of glee, a voice from two rows behind me cries out - “Pleeease Missss, Phillipa Monaghan” was at the CANAL.  


The CANAL!!! The CANAL!! Girrrl get out HERE, the teacher did howl. With my lip in a tremble and “Yesss Misss" unclear she pulls out her strap. Creating the noise of a loud thunder clap as it falls flat on my baby soft hands, leaving a blistering red weal. Turmoil exploded as I did WAIL and WAIL! The teacher tried to curtail me, but I would not STOP! She sent for my brother in primary two but there was not much he could do, then for my sister in primary four, who tried to console me till it became a bore. The teacher shouts “I CANNOT STAND THIS WAILING NO MORE!” Then she looked up to heaven and remembered I had a sister in primary seven. My big sister spouts out on seeing me - “Oh Miss!! MY DADDY is not going to be happy with YOU!!!" Gathering me up she shepherds me home my bawling still resounding in her ears.


Why do rebels go back for more?


“Canal Gate” a deleted memory from my recent past, my curtailing of the rebel did not last. With a promise of rings for my fingers and ears, I say yes to an adventure, with hindsight I should have stayed clear. Accomplice at hand we zipped out of school and tore down the path to her Aunty, who lived near.


Beguiled by the jewels in the magical box we were transfixed by all that glimmered and shined that we did not hear the clackety cling as the janitor for the second time rang out the school bell. Then with the chime of the clock on the mantle top our jollity came to an abrupt stop. LOOK AT THE TIME – NOooooo!! WE MUST GO BACK!! We both did yell.


Frantic and panting we return to the school. Then Michael the Angel, the janitor and fireman too, gathers us up exclaiming “where have you been”? Everyone has been looking for you!! On seeing our teacher, she shouts “off to the Headmaster with you two!!” In the Headmaster’s room we stand in fear, “both of you come here”, we come close but not too near. Your parent’s will be informed, now raise up your hands, you are going to be punished, have I made myself clear. For the second time in less than a year a strap was thrashed over my baby soft hands.


The Rebels Revenge


I remained at that school till my final year and for most of that time I allowed my rebel to rove free. My skirts were so short it made one teacher fraught as she tugged and tugged trying to pull it over my knee; I was thrown out of the Library for drinking “Pop” and was laid bare when I failed a dare – toppling into the Burn and creating a scare.


It was in the ultimate week that a posse of rebels including me, worked out a plot – a way to set the children we were leaving behind free. Splitting ourselves into groups of three we waited till all the children had been gathered in the big hall for assembly. With our mission impossible we invaded each classroom primary one two three ... till each one was relieved of the fat leather strap: that horrible child beating tool they used exultantly to wrap round our baby soft hands.


rebel-tales, memories, school antics