Tonight we go back to that ‘shame’ question – which, you will recall, was one of when I first felt shamed by something I had done.
To understand the situation here, you have to understand that Georgina Beecham was one of those bloody annoying girls who always thought she knew better than you and was always trying to boss people around.
And you also have to go back a couple of days and read about what a monster Miss Bailey was.
Every day at junior school there were three break times – one morning, one afternoon and of course the long lunch break. At the end of each break, a teacher would ring a bell and call us to line up to go back to our classrooms.
This incident happened at either a morning or afternoon break, because the lunch breaks happened in a different playground at that time. Needless to say, it was Miss Bailey who rang the bell. But instead of having us form lines to go into class, she asked us all to go around the playground and pick up litter. After a short while doing this, she rang the bell again to call us all back in.
She then said something along the lines of “I hope everyone picked some litter up”. At which point someone near me said “Georgina Beecham didn’t”. And at this point something – mischief, a sense of justice or mere incredulity that someone would be foolish enough to defy La Bailey – took hold of me and I said “Georgina Beecham didn’t” out loud.
There was a hushed silence. And then the dread words “You can lose five house points for telling tales”.
Now, in retrospect, I should have felt pleased. Miss Bailey was prone to deducting house points in multiples of ten, sometimes fifty, so five was a pretty puny punishment. But I was mortified. I’d been blamed for trying to do the just thing. More importantly, I’d been stupid enough to say anything at all when that harridan was about. I was ashamed of myself, for putting myself in that position.
And I was ashamed of losing points for my house, too, and I only once did so again. Though I guess Mrs Higginbottom taking one off me for reading The Beano in class was justified.