Tue Apr XX
What a day! Nearly on detention with Gs but got away with it! Collided with Lemon going for a ball in P.E. and Mr Kelly had a brain haemorrage in Pd 1.
This was definitely one of my most memorable days in New Zealand.
First of all, the detention. One of the things about Mr Gibbs, our German teacher, was that when he had an off day, he really had an off day. Most of the time he was, to paraphrase Dickens, as hard and threatening as a rose petal. But there were days when it was as if we had an entirely different teacher in the room, and on those days he was simply out to get the first boy or boys who got on the wrong side of him, and getting on the wrong side of him on an ‘off’ day was very easy to do.
On this day he blew his top at the number of us who hadn’t learned a number of words for a vocabulary test. I was one of those and we were all told to go away and learn the words during the rest of the day, to report back after the bell rang for home time and if anyone could not complete the test without mistakes they would be in detention.
I remember that I was working in the library that day. As usual, I was on the issue desk. Normally, I would spend the time that I was not needed to actually issue books reading Asterix books – I had just discovered the famous Gaul and was addicted to him – but this day I didn’t dare. I spent the whole time learning the dozen or so words that I had stupidly omitted to learn before.
Curiously, I wasn’t worried too much about coming the closest I had ever come (or would come) to getting a detention. I wasn’t even worried about what my parents would say. I was worried about how I would tell them where I was. It seems that even in the pre-internet era I had a need to constantly be in touch with someone.
You will gather that I did manage to pass the test, having crammed words such as Zwerg and Zaun into my brain. And yes, I did just look them up using Google Translate, thus proving how useful the exercise was in the first place.
Whilst all of this was going on, poor Mr Kerry was falling seriously ill. He wasn’t one of my teachers, but he was a kindly man, short with greying hair and beard, who taught technical subjects. He was one of those masters that everyone likes and so everyone was most concerned for his welfare. Fortunately, he recovered.
‘Lemon’ was Andrew Lamont, a tall, thin lad in my class and possibly the best athlete in it. He was certainly a phenomenally fast runner, aided by a long, loping stride that carried him deceptively quickly. No matter what event we took part in as a form, if it involved running the race was always for second place behind him.