posted on June 12, 2008 at 9:00 pm


there i am
my last year of lyneham primary
our teacher was mr petfield
he didnt particularly like me or hate me
he wasnt a bad guy i suppose
he was about as old as i am now
and i imagine the tedium of teaching
a bunch of little 12 year olds every day
my school is visiting our sister school in wollongong
but there are 3 too many kids in our class
for places on the bus trip there
and petfields running a demerit scheme to see who stays behind
thats right
every time a kid does something wrong
they get a chalk mark against their name
i never ever looked like i was gonna go
i had already turn the corner into the next column of marks
before any other kid got on the board
2 kids were off school with illness anyway
so one morning i waved my class goodbye
and i was drafted into the opportunity class
the opportunity class in lyneham canberra 1966 was not funny
in fact it was rather scary
in a separate wing of the school was the opportunity class
full of strange kids who these days would be seen as a.d.d.t
or aspergers
or something
some couldnt speak english properly
some had seeing or hearing problems
and some of them
were working class australian kids
whose parents were literally dirt poor
and these kids were as hard as fucking nails
yeah theyd give any london artful dodger a run for ‘is money
and theyd lumped em in from all ages
into this one class
in a weird classroom
in a distant wing
and the teacher was weird too
mr harvey
a big rawboned redfaced ex rugby star or something
and the classroom was weirdly shaped
split level
and the classes were like feeding time at the zoo
and i sat there
amongst these kids with their thick glasses
and handmedown stained n knitted n darned uniforms
you knew some of em were going straight to fucking jail
they knew it too
even at 10 or 11
ooh it was so weird
inside myself im this permanent priggish prude
constantly amazed by how “the other half lives”
i was shocked at how some of the kids smelt of burned wee
or something
i was amazed at their dirty fingernails and
wild unkempt hair
the language they used
and their pronunciations
and mr harvey himself
presiding over this chaotic rabble of kids
with his deep booming voice
his slowly said instructions
that wry half smile in everything he did
god i can still see em all now
oh those poor children
and that awful circus-like class
immigrant kids just landed in australia
from god knows where
and they punch first and never ask questions at all
and here i was
some smartass kid from 6A
sent down here to cool his heels
while the rest of the toffy 6Aers went on hols
it seemed like most of em couldnt read properly
a huge 12 year old darkskinned boy
struggling along with myopic girls who were 9
to read kindergarten texts
of course eventually my class came back
and i was double whammied by all the talk
about places i hadnt been
and people i’d never met
kid in playground 1 : hey what about spikes room?
me: whos spike?
kip2: he wasnt there…
kip1: spike was my billet…
kip2: he had his own flat out the back…
kip1: with his own stereo…
kip2: he had playboys too…
kip1 ; he had all the rollings stones records….
kip2: he had a book about john lennon…
kip1: he had a girlfriend who lived next door…
kip2: and his twin sister….
kip1 : i kissed her…
kip2: yeah he kissed her…
me: groan

27 Responses to “sixty six n onwoods”

  1. avatar
    CAPTAIN BEYOND | 12 June 2008 at 10:16 pm #

    remember spin the bottle anyone???

  2. avatar
    princey | 12 June 2008 at 11:07 pm #

    That’s a bit rough, excluding kids from bus trips away… days were tough back then hey sk?

    Oh yeah sk, I got my “Small Packages” booklet in the mail yesterday with 3 beautiful poems by a beautiful poet. I asked GN if he could organise a poetry night in Melby with you and him, and he said it’s on the cards…yay! (I miss your bloggy poems, but you’re only up to 1967, so I guess it’ll be a while!)
    Love amanda

  3. avatar
    the dean | 12 June 2008 at 11:20 pm #

    all this serves to reminds me that school was a fucked up experience for a lot of us.

  4. avatar
    Paul Lightfoot | 13 June 2008 at 12:10 am #

    1967 – Cheryl Edmonds. Ooouuuph!!!!!! But just like Shirley Urban, she didn’t give a f**K 🙂

  5. avatar
    captain mission | 13 June 2008 at 12:35 am #

    dean i concur – skool fuked my edukation up’

    steve what a funny story man, schools were so bizzare, i think i’m still traumatized from the whole experience.

  6. avatar
    veleska1970 | 13 June 2008 at 12:40 am #

    i absolutely hated school, too, until i got to university.

  7. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 13 June 2008 at 1:09 am #

    Catholic grammar school molded me. Morrissey was correct when he stated “If your raised Catholic it’s inescapable-regardless of how you feel about it. You’re branded for life. It supplies you with a million questions you battle with until the day you die.”

    Guilt trips, good deeds and usually Whiskey instead of weed.

  8. avatar
    knot | 13 June 2008 at 4:15 am #

    So, what I hear you saying…just like Albert Einstein
    Albert Einstein:

    In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.

  9. avatar
    Anonymous | 13 June 2008 at 4:27 am #

    twas one pointless kick in the gutz after the other really.

  10. avatar
    Anonymous | 13 June 2008 at 4:48 am #

    Hey people,
    why is every one so down on school? Do you think you’d all be so marvellous if ya had been educated at home/on the street/in Peru? School ain’t supposed to be the answer to everything nor a garden of Eden; it’s meant to give you a basis for your future studies/career/life.
    A disgruntled teacher

  11. avatar
    eek | 13 June 2008 at 6:47 am #

    I guess you got put in the opportunity class while the rest of your class went off to the sister school as punishment for being a little heller, but damn, wouldn’t it have been better to have just allowed you to stay home that day/those days even if you were there alone? At 12 I was staying home alone some days — I’m sure you would have done just fine. …then again you did burn down a park, so maybe that wouldn’t have been such a great idea after all. 😉

    I remember the special ed class in my school. One room, one teacher (Mrs Bright — oh the irony) for all the special ed students no matter their age (rural area so the school had grades 1-12). Many of those kids spent their entire school experience in that one room with that same teacher.

  12. avatar
    golden thorn in my paw | 13 June 2008 at 8:07 am #

    i liked that

  13. avatar
    persephone2u | 13 June 2008 at 8:57 am #

    Anonymous at 2:48,

    People would be even more brilliant if they were educated at home! Most of the founding fathers were and a great many other notables as well. I’m going to homeschool my baby and give him a classical education which I am very excited about. He’s only 7 1/2 months now but is obsessed with the ABC’s on Onwards and upwards!

  14. avatar
    Anonymous | 13 June 2008 at 9:25 am #

    My father was a coal miner and my mother cleaned pub toilets – I’m an archaeologist with a 1st Class honours degree and a Masters with Distinction. You think I’d’ve managed that if I’d been educated at home?!

  15. avatar
    no writing ability attached | 13 June 2008 at 9:29 am #

    This stuff is way better than that biography ever could’ve been. Anyone see the sample chapyer that was posted? It would’ve been abysmal as a high school English essay; no professional publisher could’ve ever issued it.

  16. avatar
    Anonymous | 13 June 2008 at 9:31 am #

    Mind you, y’probably right about quality of life, Persph’ – cos I fuckn hated every day of school!

  17. avatar
    oix...! | 13 June 2008 at 9:33 am #

    ‘Chapyer’ ? Well, that serves me right, eh!

  18. avatar
    Anonymous | 13 June 2008 at 9:49 am #

    my ole man’s a wears a dustman’s att.he wears cor blimey trousers,n lives in a council flat…but at least he taught me manners….i bet those “opportunity”kids had a few richard bransons,n i bet they outsmarted that teacher,many a time…seems there’s some things they dont teach ya at school huh?

  19. avatar
    Hellbound Heart | 13 June 2008 at 10:15 am #

    i didn’t mind primary school but i fucking hated high school…there were a few week-long excursions away during high school that i didn’t go on because i knew that i’d get hell from other kids…kids aren’t too bad in primary school but they can be utter shitheads in high school…
    we had a special ed unit in our primary school…a detatched building with its own little fenced yard…remember the stares of the downs syndrome kids from the other side of the fence…
    love always…

  20. avatar
    i was a teenage malcontent | 13 June 2008 at 10:58 am #

    Hellbound: exactly. Infants & Juniors (5 – 11), great. Comprehensive (11-16), fucking diabolical nightmare! I was too damned awkward to go on ANY school trips though: i deliberately refused and sat on my own in study hall instead like the contrary bastard I was.

  21. avatar
    eek | 13 June 2008 at 11:29 am #

    The opposite years were bad for me, HH. The first seven years were hideous (the little kids in the school I went to were mean!); the last four years weren’t so bad. Of course the last four years weren’t with the same kids since I switched to a small private school, so that certainly helped. And the teachers in high school weren’t (for the most part) incompetent. That helped too.

    I would not wish my early school years experience on anyone.

  22. avatar
    veleska1970 | 13 June 2008 at 3:06 pm #

    “I would not wish my early school years experience on anyone.”

    eek, i had the opposite problem~~jr. high and high was sheer terror, and most of elementary too. school was ok until the 4th grade. but university was wonderful because being an art major, i was amongst people who were like-minded and as creative as me. 🙂

  23. avatar
    CSTCoach | 13 June 2008 at 3:30 pm #

    jeezus, that brought back some memories! lol

    i spent 3 days in a room like that too, an “in school” suspension, cause kicking me out didn’t make any difference. i was still the same prank pulling evil genius after an enjoyable 3 days off to plot new schemes… In the special ed room i sat there all day reading magazines, pretending to enjoy the opportunity to catch up on my reading, never letting them see how miserably bored i was, how long the days were…

    missed out on one school trip too, cause i was deemed too bad to go. all i ever did was pull some very clever and rather poetic pranks, cause i hated being told what to do… Turns out the kids at the other school way up there in the north, where i was forbidden to go for fear of being a bad influence, they were all sniffing glue and driving around drunk. go figure. and here i probably woulda brought this album i was listening to – starfish – which woulda changed the whole consciousness of that place and sparked a velvet revolution. what a lost opportunity that was! 😉

  24. avatar
    kat | 13 June 2008 at 4:55 pm #

    ya, sk, what about the pyro in ye? park story… please!

  25. avatar
    davem | 13 June 2008 at 5:01 pm #

    You’ve given us some beautiful imagery on TTB over the past couple of years.
    But I fear the thought of burned wee is going to stay with me for the weekend. Ugghh. I am now lighting some incense.

  26. avatar
    fantasticandy | 13 June 2008 at 6:28 pm #

    school was a hellish totally negative ordeal for me……
    i don’t wish to remember it at all.

  27. avatar
    Anonymous | 18 June 2008 at 12:28 pm #

    at my primary school,we had a contraption called the algebraic dingaling.’) xo it runs on lurve. x

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