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A Shout From The Attic: Through A Glass Darkly

...Life was too much of a burden for a young lad to bear without challenging authority figures, of which the world was over-populated, and even so simple a thing as asking a question would seem to be “cheeky.”...

Ronnie Bray admits that he was a timid schoolboy.

To read further episodes of Ronnie's life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

This was my tenth year. Routine inspection showed that I needed glasses. I was given some round gold rimmed glasses. I did not mind wearing them but I was sensitive to remarks made by my fellow pupils. Although the glasses helped me to see better I often left them at home.

Mr Llewellyn referred to me as “professor,” though whether that was because I looked studious in my specs or because I more often than not absent-mindedly “forgot” them, I do not know. It would not have occurred to me to ask for I was timid. Life was too much of a burden for a young lad to bear without challenging authority figures, of which the world was over-populated, and even so simple a thing as asking a question would seem to be “cheeky.”

Once I scraped some blackboard chalk on the edge of a tin and collected the resultant powder. After applying the chalk dust to my face to give me an unaccustomed pallor, I raised my hand and said, “I don’t feel very well, sir.” “Go and stand out in the yard ‘til you feel better,” said the kind teacher.

As I reached to door to open it, he called “Why are you laughing, Bray?” I cannot remember that I was laughing. My emotions being of a different order at that moment. “I’m not, sir” I returned with suitable gravity. “Go on then.”

I stood in the schoolyard feeling a fraud but enjoying the freedom of outside when a figure strode along Bow Street, which stood at the bottom side of the school parallel to Water Street. The figure was of the tall, slim Mr Riley, who had become headmaster on the retirement of Mr Armitage. “What are you doing outside?” he demanded. “I’m not very well, sir” “Are you feeling any better?” “Yes, sir.” “Then go back to your class.”

I returned to class after washing the remains of the dust from my face. It was a relief to be back in class when fear of the detection of my fraud had passed.

The other teacher we had that year was Mr Brook and of him, apart from the fact that he looked like Alan Ladd and was, therefore, quite handsome, I remember nothing.


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