Friday 28th September 2018
Reading time 02 minutes 19 seconds
Excluding Ibiza the Isle of Wight is known as England’s favourite holiday island. To me it is the English equivalent of “Devil’s Island” and memories of the place came flooding back to me earlier this week.
I’ll start at the beginning.
1982. I was in the last year of Primary school and, excluding teachers and dinner ladies, the kids ruled the school. I was close to starting big school, then 5 years later I could leave education forever which was my only ever real goal in life. So pleased have I been with that achievement I only recently stopped celebrating.
As a parting gift for our final year we were offered a week away, with our school mates, to the land of different coloured sand in jars. It was a path well-trodden for our school and many playground myths had been born. The trip sounded as exciting to an 11-year-old as an early night does to a 47-year-old.
I convinced my Dad to let me go but looking back I’m not sure how much arm twisting he needed to get me out of the house for a week.
We stayed on a holiday camp and if you can picture the Great Escape prison compound you are there. My neighbours were Joanna (a trend setter, like me, as she was the only other kid from a single parent family) and Wendy. My chalet had a shower and as a bath kind of guy this wouldn’t do. Jo and Wendy had one, so I asked if I could use their facilities and they were very accommodating.
At age 11 I was about 3 feet tall and lying in that tub I could easily have been doing the backstroke. Then disturbing my tranquil moment came a firm knock on the door.
It was Mr Smith, our teacher, who was a beast of a man and someone we all lived in fear of. If you were naughty in his class he’d throw a bean bag at your head and I can tell you he was a great shot. I reckon he had seen some very bad things in his life, as he looked like a squadron leader/war veteran, but he never said a word about them. Later in life he became the lollipop man and I think back on him with very fond, rose tinted, memories.
He knocked his knock of terror again. “Willsy, what are you doing?”
“Having a bath sir!” Wasn’t that obvious? Why else would I be in the girl’s bathroom? This comment ignited his anger and he instructed me to leave immediately.
“But I’m in the bath sir”.
“Well then get out” he commanded.
I could sense, through his shouting, that I may be in a spot of trouble. I wondered what I had done and assumed it must have been something big as I could feel his wrath oozing through a very cheap door. Weirdly the bathroom doors could be locked but the chalet doors couldn’t. I guess this was so the guards could check on us at night?
Mr Smith was also screaming at Joanna and it sounded as though she was in more trouble than me, so I opened the bathroom door and stepped out.
I stood there wearing a towel around my waist holding my clothes. This really infuriated him.
“Get to your room Willsy and why are you here?”
“Make up your mind sir, do you want me to leave or to answer stupid questions?” Are the words I didn’t say as teachers could give you a whack back then.
I explained about me not liking showers and only liking baths and this toppled him over the edge. He then marched me out of the room and back to mine with my ear between his fingers and me struggling to keep the towel around my waist.
The thing about Mr Smith is that he was all hot air and the ‘incident’ was forgotten by the time I left for big school.
I contacted Jo & Wendy. Wendy sadly had no memories of the incident but Joanna on the other hand remembered it all apart from why we were in trouble. Sadly, the mystery remains but I’ve never been able to fully relax in a bath since.
This weeks photo: I don’t ever recall being this relaxed on stage but my friend little Andrew captured it perfectly.