How were your school days? Good? Bad?….Well I don’t know who said school days are the best days of your life but what an idiot! And they definitely didn’t go to my school…..
Nowadays teachers and pupils are almost friends the way they are with each other. Back in the 70s when corporal punishment ruled it was very different, especially in a Catholic school run by priests. ‘Spare the rod ruin the child’ should have been the motto at that place. The cane or the slipper, depending on the teachers mood. Marist College Catholic School For Boys …. No girls…. Not great for thirteen year old lads with testosterone starting to rage. Luckily for us at the other end of a very long street stood St Mary’s Catholic School For Girls. Never the two should meet, unless you wanted eternal damnation.
It’s a funny thing when you’re Thirteen. When someone in authority says it is definitely not allowed then naturally you want to do it, especially when it came to chatting to girls. The big problem was the priests and nuns. Up and down that street they went, trying to stop some lad from turning to temptation. One day it would be the priests’ turn then next day the nuns’. They reminded me of German soldiers patrolling Colditz in world war two. Pacing up and down, eyes peeled for a prisoner of war trying to escape. They didn’t have guns or alsatians but if they caught you it was six of the best, care of the head master whose name I won’t mention….oh go on then, Father Horseley. I think he looked at it like a hobby just to break his day up.
So to get there you had to go round in a big curve. And sprint there because you didn’t have much time for lunch. If you made it there and jumped over a little wall you were in paradise! Girls everywhere! And of course we would chat about theology…..politics…the Bible and stuff……
And then minutes before the bell sounded you would be off like the clappers to get back. This particular day me and my mate were chatting up a couple of girls when he whispered loudly “NUN!”. Then he magically disappeared, quicker than a butcher at a vegan festival leaving me on my own. I looked around and this very tall old nun was approaching and she saw me, her eyes squinting. “Stop Der…” She was Irish. Mind you that sounded a bit Jamaican didn’t it. She was an Irish Rastafarian nun! “Stop Der!!” She said again and most definitely Irish, her brogues squeaking slightly. Now I didn’t want to appear scared and my chances were good with this girl so it’s not a good look being terrified of an old nun. I casually said bye and walked away as nonchalant as I could. ” What’s your name?” the nun asked, her voice rising. ” Jesus,” I replied, “But you can call me Mr Christ.” The squeaking started to get faster and she shouted loudly, “STOP DER!!!!” Her face starting to go from red to puce. Now a few girls watched and I thought just play it cool, Vin. Inside I was ready to leg it but didn’t want to look a fool. But then again if she grabbed me then what? Caught by a nun! I’d never live it down. So I started to run, more of a jog really and I could hear her breathing heavily. ” Stop… Wicked boy!” she panted, getting closer.
That was it. I ran. At thirteen I was very quick so I let her have it. Whoosh and gone, legs and arms pumping and my long hair flowing in the wind. I turned back, glancing and got the shock of my life. Bloody hell she was right behind me! Reaching out for my collar! My God she was fast. The fastest nun in the west. She was actually going that quick her brogues had stopped squeaking. I found out a very interesting fact about that nun though. Yeah she was quick on the straight but useless at turning corners. I saw a side street and darted down it as she gave out a little squeal and couldn’t stop. I finally lost her. But I knew she would be at the bottom of the street I needed to be in. What if she was there? Waiting to head me off at the pass? Then again she’s a nun not a bloody cowboy. So I decided to go a very long way round to the back of the school, through some allotments and over a high wall with broken glass bottles cemented into the top. Health and safety wasn’t something to think about in those days. But I’d made it. Just in time. Easy!
The next day I sat in maths class bored stiff when I heard footsteps. One heavy, definitely a man. The other had a familiar squeak to it. Those shoes walking slowly down the corridor. They would stop, a knock on a door then words were spoken. My stomach did a flip and I knew any minute the nun would be in the classroom. Don’t panic, don’t panic just be calm I thought and wished I could borrow a pair of glasses. With that there was a rap on the door. It opened quietly and the headmaster and the nun appeared. She looked well cheesed off. “Ah Father can I help? The teacher asked. Even he looked a bit scared of her. She looked around, scanning the room. Those beady, squinting eyes looked around, searching. They fell on me for a second then moved along. ” I’m lookin for a boy I saw yesterday. A wicked, wicked boy,” she said before Father Horseley could say a word, gazing around once more. Thank the Lord it was 1978. Every lad looked identical. Long hair, same uniform. Same fearful look. ” Is he here Sister?” Father Horseley asked her softly. She quickly looked for a final time, that old wrinkly face screwed up then she was gone. Squeaking down the corridor.
We stopped going to St Mary’s for a couple of weeks but we missed the girls too much and that out weighed the fear. . We were extra careful after that. The first sign of a nun’s habit and we were off like roadrunner. I saw Sister Bernadette a few times after that, from a distance anyway. I never ventured too close though, being chased by her once was enough for me. I’d like to think she would have prayed for me, for forgiveness and mercy but she most likely wanted me smited, struck down by a bolt of lightning. God’s wrath for being a wicked, wicked boy.