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This is a question School Days

"The best years of our lives," somebody lied. Tell us the funniest thing that ever happened at school.

(, Thu 29 Jan 2009, 12:19)
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Campsite of doom
For I hope the best of reasons, my mother was misguided enough to send me to a small private school near Twickenham until I was 13.

The school was basically a factory to churn out decent results in the Common Entrance exam you'd take at 13 to go onto your next private / Public school (as others have explained, Public schools in the UK just mean private schools charging lots of money). To be fair, the school was good at what it did, but back in the 70s this would include the "physical" option - exercised in numerous devious and nasty ways - to force learning into pupil's heads.

Anyway, after the exams were finished with at 13, you got to go on camp. This meant staying in a large field at the back of the Head's country domain in Oxfordshire - private schools obviously making quite a bit of profit.

For a week the teachers who had drawn the short straw got to tend to the 30 or so boys - single sex school after 11 - who were finally free from the last 8 years of brutality and knew it.

The camp was towards the top of a small valley, and had its own spring, from which we drank before being sent by the teachers on "orienteering" every day - i.e. drop the little buggers 8 miles or so from the campsite with maps and compasses, and let them find their own way home unsupervised while the staff drown their sorrows.

But the spring must have been polluted by some chemicals from the neighbouring farms, because it made all of us sick. Literally sick, at night the food - sausages and beans - would be noisily regurgitated shortly after eating. We were all incredibly immature, in the way that only a single-sex "private" school can make you, so the mass outbreaks of vomit was more amusing than anything else.

On the last night of the camp, as a special treat, we were all allowed to watch TV in the Head's house, with his wife - the most fearsome teacher in the school - in charge whilst the other staff went to the local.

Revenge on the old bitch was sweet though, as that night our stomachs had obviously got accustomed to the nitrates, in that we no longer puked; instead we farted.

And here we had the better of Mrs White, as I shall name her, safe in the knowledge that she must either be dead or insane by now.

Being an upper crust wannabe - the ideal qualification for a private school maam - she had the same attitude to farting as was held by Queen Victoria to lesbianism. It was such a grotesque concept that it couldn't exist.

So, full of beans in all senses, the entire 6th form trumped their way through 3 hours of TV, gassing away like Saddam on the Kurds, every man jack of us pumping out more methane than a shed full of cattle.

And...that's it. It's why I read the rest of the QotW this week with a mixture of horror and envy. Back then the concepts of children having any "rights" were laughable. You were there to be educated and not to have fun and although you weren't thrashed enough to draw blood, the school was closer to the Victorian age than the freedoms enjoyed nowadays.

Christ, that was boring for you to read but cathartic for me to come out with. I hated school but ultimately it's just made the rest of my life better, just by it not being school.
(, Wed 4 Feb 2009, 0:25, 2 replies)
That's a shame
School camps are a lot more fun these days. My lad was away at an outdoor activity centre all last week with his school and I went along as a parent helper.

We had an absolute blast. Caving, climbing, abseiling, mountain biking, the works.

Great bunch of kids as well, surprisingly.
(, Wed 4 Feb 2009, 11:15, closed)
I wonder though
I mean, my youngest is not yet 13 and yet she's done so much - ski-ing, the whole abseiling lark, martial arts, music lessons, horse riding, drama school - and been abroad frequently from the age of a few weeks old. She's always known how to order from a menu and (hopefully) without being spoilt has had a very good life.

She's also grown up with computers everywhere, plasma screens, surround sound - in short, she's had about 10 x more stimulation in every (good) way than I ever had as a child.

So what the hell is left for her ? And isn't experiencing boredom, challenge and want as a child useful - because it makes us determined to achieve for ourselves ?

No wonder kids don't want to leave home ! Although I have told her that at 18 she is OUT and that now she needs to start doing stuff like cooking and so on if she wants to gain the independence she thinks she wants.

God, bringing up kids is hard !
(, Wed 4 Feb 2009, 11:55, closed)

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