Worzel writes, We shared a laugh at the bus stop, Godfrey and I, a pack of private school girls had been ejected from the city bus- an issue with their raccous singing..Oh, to be thirteen, 8th grade, I told this story to him as we strolled. ” My stepmother, Mrs Gibberflat, removed the backseat of our battered car, lined it with straw and used it to transport my brother Inkerman’s two calves. “How very kind, Godfrey replied.”  Well, she also chose to pick me up at school with the calves in the car, pulled right up to the front entrance, smiling and waving like The Queen Mum, my social outcast-ness sealed by the head of Inkerman popping up, yelling, “Dibs on the front seat, Pretzel, you gotta sit with the calves”    I endured the laughter, and mooing in the halls four more years..Besides beets, what horrors did you endure in Wales at thirteen? 

 ” Feh, he began, by thirteen Beatrice and I were less shy, a bit of a cheeky pair, still bullied by beets every day of our lives, then Beatrice’s gym teacher was felled by Post Quender’s Hives.  I was writing poetry each day, writing by candle neath my covers at night, writing on unpaid bills Ma left lying around, on the scrolls of fibrous loo roll in the gent’s that I found. My old, special teacher, Mrs Kromplak , off on holiday sent me my first real journal as a gift from Australia. Hand bound,Mrs Kromplak wrote of the pubs she had been all the Koalas and Wombats she had seen, dusty, friendly little towns, all the rich, abundant cakes and ice-cream.

Meanwhile as I wrote and dreamed, Beatrice endured gym class where Miss Hagthorn from Tharn did shout and scream.  Miss wore her whistle round the clock, and an ill-fitting gym slip that scritched when she walked. She did nothing in class but yell at Beatrice – “hurry on and climb that rope!’   She kicked anyone out who answered back or spoke, of course Beatrice fell from the rope with a thud, knocking over Betsy Oatley as she landed, there was blood. Both were taken to Miss Commorford, the spitting nurse, sadly for of us later in the day it got worse.

..Maths teacher, Mr Gates was the next one scathed by the dreaded Quenders. Miss Hagthorn from Tharn stomped in as a substitute to class, whistle round her several necks, face cheerful as a slapped ass. Beatrice at her desk, as always by my side, held a large text book up behind which to hide.  Said, “While you composed verse, the spitting nurse, touched my tongue that I bit  when I fell ” Then asked if all at home were well, like I could even talk”  Past my head whizzed a whole piece of chalk, hurled with force by Miss Hagthorn from Tharn,  just missing me, “I warned Beatrice, I feel she dislikes poetry”.

“Don’t attract her attention, do not giggle or look, pretend to be absorbed in that tatty maths book” “Oh I hear her cleated feet and gym-slip way far down the hall, she is subtle as a coal tram hitting the mine wall. “Could there be a cheese, bottom of that mannish purse? “Miss Hagthorn from Tharn is as lovely as a hearse”    “Ask if you may borrow, her important shoes”   Godfrey passed this poem to Beatrice in an effort to cheer her and amuse…”Said Godfrey, I truly though Miss was facing the other way, when I passed my poem to Beatrice and was caught out right this silly day”

“Sing a song of cranky teacher, standing on a hardwood bleacher, ordering Godfrey up and down, a poet picking up rubbish with a stick, in the snow, until late, on the school ground.”    Oh no, I drooled said Beatrice, ” Miss Hagthorn, please don’t make me explain Godfrey , with this wad of cotton-wool where I bit my tongue”   We cried till we laughed afterwards, he and I, such a cheeky pair back then, long ago when he and I were young.

  In the compiling of Godfrey’s story, Beatrice reports, ” I have never needed to climb a rope, ever in my life”   The legend states that Godfrey wrote “You Remind Me of Haggis”- at sixteen, no, he gave me his signature poem at that age. “he wrote it at thirteen, but that is a whole other story. Indeed I remember Miss Hagthorn from Tharn.



  1. Just when you think your day can’t get worse, it does! I laughed at the episodes of parental humiliation, the gym class injury, the nurse’s first aid, and the intercepted note. I experienced them all and blessedly had forgotten until Godfrey and Beatrice told their story. I’m so glad they could be cheeky friends. From the day I leaped at the rope and swung there unable to move my hands an inch to the day I wrenched my neck trying to do a summersault over a rolled mat, I hated gym class. Thanks for the nostalgic laugh.

  2. Why thanks Mercy, oh how I loathed gym, and the nurse’s room, (she did spit when she talked) full of older girls faking cramps to get out of it, having to sit and read “From Girl To Woman”. There are many of us, we are strong, we have never had to climb a rough, sweaty rope, Cheers!

  3. You and Mercy are so right. I hadn’t thought about it, but I’ve never had to climb a rope—an impossibility at any age with hips like mine—or a pushup or 100 sit-ups or wash out a blue bloomered PE uniform every weekend—an edict I ignored fairly regularly. Also, like Mercy, I laughed my was through this post; the highlight being “face cheerful as a slapped ass.” Thanks for starting my day off so merrily, Sheila.

  4. Thanks Janet- always happy to provide a guffaw, an amalgam of gym teachers a co-worker and I endured over the years…and about as naughty an observation as Godfrey would provide. Cheers.

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