Closure

Discussion of the children's schools in the UK.
pablo
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat Nov 01, 2008 7:04 am

Closure

Postby pablo » Sat Nov 01, 2008 11:09 am

Hi all,

I'm not sure where to start with this.

I've been aware of this website and the inquiry for about 2 years. I only heard about the inquiry from an old classmate after it had concluded, though I'm not sure I'd have got involved with it anyway. Yesterday is the first time I've really logged on and read about it, watched the Channel 4 news article and started to read some of your posts. It's all a bit depressing, isn't it? And I think that's why I've stayed away till now.

I feel the need to express/share some of my experiences, thoughts and feelings. I've thought about doing this as a blog, but for now I'll post here and it'll probably come out in dribs and drabs over the next few days & weeks.

Why am I writing this?
Actually I'm really clear about my purpose in being here: what it is and what it isn't.
  • I want closure and I think that expressing myself like this will help me achieve that.
  • I want to express myself somewhere other than a personal diary. It somehow needs to be expressed to other humans. I guess this says I need some validation from others who will understand.
  • I do not want to stoke the flames. I'm keenly aware that recollecting some events (and reading recollections) can cause other memories to surface and that this can become almost an addictive self-serving behaviour. Been there, done that, not interested in going there... and actually I don't need to go there.
  • This is personal. In a sense I don't even need it to be read; I just need to express it. If you want to respond or add to this, feel free, but I'm not soliciting responses and I'm not sure if I want/need to be in touch with former inmates(sic).
  • I'm not interested in effecting a change (at SES / St James). Maybe it's a step too far for me right now. Maybe it's that I think my creative energies are better focussed elsewhere. Maybe I think it's a lost cause.
  • I am also not interested in apologies or reconciliation. For myself, closure is more about me becoming ready to let go of the past and let it be. I understand that everyone needs to find their own path to closure and that apologies work for some. For me, I would find an apology trite. And I think the belief system runs so deep with some of these individuals that true reconciliation would be impossible.

I want to start by thanking those of you who have brought the issues to light and provoked the inquiry. Whilst I am being more selfish about my motives, I am grateful to you because over the past 2 years this has allowed me to recognise "I was abused." It's still very painful to say that, but it's better than quietly believing that I was alone and somehow over-sensitive, weak, etc. etc..

I am aware that I may well be inconsistent and self-contradictory above and no doubt below, but that's the world of emotions and hey, I'm okay with that. I won't be entering into debate on what I write.


For the time being at least, I want to remain anonymous, and I make no apologies for that. My posts may make it obvious to those who know me and you're welcome to private message me, but I'd ask that you respect my anonymity in the public domain.

I was at St James for 8 years in Mr Torpy/Mottram's class, 1975-1984.

Pablo.

Matthew
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Location: London

Re: Closure

Postby Matthew » Sun Nov 02, 2008 1:51 am

Hi Pablo,

Welcome, and thanks for sharing.

Feel free to express your thoughts/feelings as and when they arise; thats what its all about here.

Matthew

pablo
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat Nov 01, 2008 7:04 am

Re: Closure

Postby pablo » Sun Nov 02, 2008 1:54 pm

(Thanks, Matthew.)



Having got on and lived my life after St James for the last 25 years, having put the past behind me, I find myself turning round and putting the past directly squarely in front of me. Why would I do that?

In truth, I think I've always known that one day I'd probably have to face the pain and deal with it. But for so long it's been buried so deep and locked away so tightly that even if I had wanted to address some issues, it wasn't accessible.

Over the past year or two I've had to recognise some negative behaviour patterns in myself. They affect my health and they affect my relationships with others.

I think I'm going to have to backtrack. In order to survive St James I learned to hide my emotions. I learned that emotions are a sign of weakness and that weakness is not tolerated. So the best way to get through the days, weeks, months and years was to hide my emotions. Squash them down, bury them deep, don't let the bastards know you're hurting, be brave, or at least put on a brave mask.

I got so good at this and it became so much a part of how I am that I didn't know I was doing it. It was necessary as a means of survival as a child. As an adult it is such a negative behaviour. There are two side-effects:
  • I became like a pressure container, with boiling emotion upon boiling emotion being compressed into a tight space. At some point you need to release the pressure, but it has to be done carefully. Either you're in for an explosion that will rupture everything in sight, or you have to release things gradually. I have never ruptured thank god. But there have been times when more was released in one go than I could handle and I've felt lost, tossed around in the turbulence for a while. After 15 years of gradual releases, I'm now down to the last bit of pressure and I'm ready to open up the valve and be done with it. Leaving aside the simile, it has meant that in relationships at times of heightened emotions I have become so intense and overwhelmed that I have scared others off. I truly hope I'm done with that. It hasn't happened for a long time... but then again I haven't dared to get into a situation where it could happen again for a long time because I haven't trusted myself to be able to handle it.
  • My friends and close ones can't tell when I am feeling vulnerable or in need of some TLC. I always seem so capable and grounded. At the start of relationships it sometimes means I appear to be uninterested or aloof. I have to consciously make an effort to display my feelings conspicuously.

Well, I cannot stomach it anymore. As it turns out that's not a metaphor. I developed Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) which basically meant daily Delhi belly and low energy levels. It triggered wheat intolerance, dairy intolerance. (Well, maybe intolerance in general!) Now I'm happy to say that with help in the form of kinesiology from a fantastic practitioner, I'm no longer dairy intolerant, I'm only mildly wheat intolerant and I'm back to stable normal most of the time. My energy levels are back up but this the first thing to get hit.

Over the past 5 years, I have taken myself to the brink of exhaustion several times. It's such a negative behaviour. And it's not fun. I have to remain alert to the dark rings around my eyes as a sign of getting too close to the edge. It can take 2-3 months of going to bed at 9 or 10pm to recover from exhaustion, which isn't fun and is a killer for a social life.

So, using kinesiology again, I have wanted to explore why I pressure myself to the point of exhaustion. What benefit do I gain? Who am I trying to impress? Who do I need to prove myself to?

In the process of looking at this, layers have been removed and it's exposed, among other things, this seething pool of anger, hatred, resentment and so on. That's why I'm here today. On my journey so far, I have learned to love myself, genuinely to value and accept myself, deep down, with all my faults and failing; to realise that actually I deserve to be happy, I deserve all good things in my life.

Already this has taken away a lot of those pressures: because I accept myself as I am, I have no need to prove myself to me, my father, or anyone else; because I value myself, I will protect myself and that means being kind to myself and not making myself ill. At this moment, I'm starting to get some of this. I still have some bad habits and I'm gradually learning alternative ways of being and doing things that can be just as productive but without the high stress levels.


I thought I was going to write a lot about what happened to me at St James but it's interesting that hasn't happened so far. Instead it's more about who I am now, dealing with this stuff. And maybe that's how it is: what happened in the past is not as important as what is happening now as a result of the past. I think that's the hardest thing for us to accept - to know that so many injustices were perpetrated against us and to accept that yes that was the case but actually, right now, that's not important because right now life is rich and life is happening and shits like Debenham and Russell and the whole oppressive system that was St James in the late 70s early 80s are, in a sense, no longer relevant.

To an extent I'm aware that, with the SES & St James still in existence, it's twisted belief system thriving and some of those abusers still in positions of power, I'm ducking some important issues. But to be honest I can't deal with those things, not in a productive way, while I'm still caught up in all my personal stuff. I would just see red and be unable to do something positive for the children at the schools and for myself. At this moment, I am not the right person.

Pablo

pablo
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Re: Closure

Postby pablo » Sun Nov 02, 2008 2:20 pm

So now, some memories.

I actually remember being interviewed for St James by Nicholas Debenham, aged 5. At the time I was at the comprehensive primary school across the road from my house. I didn't know who this man was, why me and my dad were with him or why he was asking me questions. He asked me 2+2. At first I thought Why should I answer him but my dad said I should. I answered 4. He asked me 2x2 and I didn't know what he was asking.

I joined St James on my 6th birthday, April 1975, the 2nd term of the school's existence. I remember some happy memories of playing in Kensington Gardens by the Natural History Museum. And I remember the austere atmosphere in the classroom. It was a shock going from small, bright classrooms where we would blow paint pictures through straws and read ladybird books or learn to tell the time, to this large formal classroom with an unsmiling Mrs David at the front teaching arithmetic.

It was a common occurrence for us kids to be so afraid to put our hand up to go to the toilet that we would wee on our chairs. I don't remember ever doing it at the first primary school. But it happened for a while at St James and I know I wasn't the only one. I would sneak off my chair and wipe the seat dry with my arm and then slip quietly back onto the seat. Comically I do remember once putting my hand up and asking to go to the toilet and Mrs David telling me to work out a subtraction she had on the board first. A moment later she realised that I couldn't think about anything but peeing and she allowed me to go.


I have a nephew who's 9 years old now and who I love dearly. I am so glad that he is at a school where he is happy, looked after, and thriving. This is so important to me (and to my sisters). Every now and then I'll ask my sister how he's doing or I'll ask him a question or two, and it's so heartening to know he is in a good school and a happy child.

pablo
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Joined: Sat Nov 01, 2008 7:04 am

Re: Closure

Postby pablo » Sun Nov 02, 2008 3:11 pm

At some point I do want to talk about some of the darker moments at St James, if only to have them documented.

What I want to say now is about the physical, mental and emotional abuse. Yes I was punched by Colin Russell. Yes I was caned by Nicholas Debenham. Yes I was slippered by Felicity Debenham née Hare. So I'm hardly unique in any of those. (Jeez I really fired up to rage thinking about Felicity Hare. Whew there's a lot of passion there.)

But these physical abuses are, in my mind, neither here nor there. They stung for a moment. They may have bruised for a week. But then they're gone. I see this as small fry compared to say knifing, truly being beaten up or so on. Russell punched us (he says) to toughen us up. In a sense that worked because I don't give a shit about being hit. I know I'm physically strong, can take it and can deliver back if necessary.

What really does matter are the mental, emotional, psychological abuses. Systematic bullying from teachers. A culture of false 'nobility', 'purity', 'gentlemanliness', and self-righteous snobbery that exerted itself as an environment where you didn't have room to breathe, to talk, to be silly, to be a child, to express yourself, to be noisy once in a while, to be naughty, to grow, to flourish. In this respect I think St James was the equivalent to a child of what Guantanamo is to adults today. And I truly do not think there is any exaggeration or melodrama in that statement.

To use David Boddy's analogy of a potter (see the end of the Channel 4 interview), and by the way this potter analogy is one of those parables we heard so often at school: he talks of a potter having one hand in the pot to shape it and another on the outside to constrain it. (I'm paraphrasing.) Yes in that sense we were treated like slabs of clay that 'needed' shaping into the form they wanted to shape us, with pressure being exerted on us inside and out. Children need room to grow for themselves. Yes they need guidance and indeed look to adults for clear limits because this helps them define their safe space - you only need to see an episode or two of Supernanny to see this - but within that space there needs to be freedom. A child is more like a plant than a lump of clay. Each child will naturally grow into their own shape and can be guided in doing so, while a lump of clay needs outside force to take shape.

In my opinion David Boddy demonstrated in that interview the hubris that is typical of my experience of SES / St James, of people who think they know better, who think they are somehow better and more enlightened than the masses, and as a result who grant themselves the right to exert their 'wisdom' on others. It is not really a surprise that when you take that kind of self-validating attitude and you empower individuals who are arrogant and cruel to look after the vulnerable, you end up with a culture where abuse is endemic.

Therefore, it is no surprise to me that Nicholas Debenham does not think he has done anything wrong. Indeed, he probably thinks he's done a great service to mankind and is irritated by the few 'weak' individuals who cannot take responsibility for themselves. When you are so deeply dyed in a self-validating belief system, you see the world and all actions through tinted glasses and I doubt he will ever be able to see his actions as we and the rest of the world see them.

I do genuinely believe that David Boddy and the governors feel regret and remorse at the pain that has been caused. I believe that SES set up St James and St Vedast with the best of intentions. But I also think that these 'projects' were misguided then and remain misguided now. If there is no abuse going on now it will be because potential abusers are not given power or the abuse culture has been changed, but while there is this wall of self-righteous belief that SES knows a truth that the rest of the world don't get and that it is their duty to make a difference to the next generation, there is damage being done and there is the potential for abuse.

This is not unique to SES though. It is, in a word, fundamentalism. We see it in Christianity. We're seeing it all too clearly in the Muslim tradition today. In all cases, seeds of profound heart-opening life-changing wisdom formalised into rigid doctrines that are then adopted by zealots and forced upon the vulnerable, by which stage it is a set of selfish motives masquerading as greatness.

Just my opinion!!!

Pablo

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bonsai
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Re: Closure

Postby bonsai » Sun Nov 02, 2008 5:28 pm

Pablo,

Welcome and thank you for your contributions. Whether you wish them to provoke dialogue or whether you seek your own closure through expression is fine. I do sincerely hope that you, like the plenty of others here that have been victim of this twisted belief system, find what it is that frees you from these experiences.

You were in the school before me but it is fair to say that the school didn't change much. I recognise in what you have written much of what happened to me or that I observed happening to those around me during my time in St James. At its core I do not think it has changed at all.

I really agree with your comments about the potter analogy and the whole idea you raise about there being a "need" to mould people. I agree with the people are more like plants needing to be given space and resources with which to grow and flourish. My own pseudonym here "bonsai" is carefully chosen though to represent the fact that by carefully manipulating the environment in which a tree grows you can get some pretty twisted shapes out and in the case of bonsai trees all with the express intention of aesthetic beauty.

Welcome on board and thank you for having the courage to share your feelings publicly.

Bonsai

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ET
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Re: Closure

Postby ET » Mon Nov 03, 2008 4:26 pm

Hi Pablo and welcome to the board.

Wow, what an eloquent and thought-provoking disclosure. I really identify with what you say about not being able to express emotion or feelings, I suffered with this for years, and my sister still does. Your description of having to force yourself to show how you feel in social situations is an almost mirror description of how she says she also feels.
All I can say is that with the right help and supportive people around you it can and does get easier. I hope you will find that sharing your experiences and feelings on this board helps with that process.

Despite the fact that we were all in it together, each child felt as if he/she was alone. Now we are not. I hope you can take some comfort from that, as I have.

Welcome again, and thanks for posting so openly.
Pupil at St James Girl's School from 1979-1989, from age 4-14. Parents ex-members of SES.

pablo
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Joined: Sat Nov 01, 2008 7:04 am

Re: Closure

Postby pablo » Mon Nov 03, 2008 6:01 pm

Thanks Bonsai and ET. I didn't think your comments would matter, but they do, and I appreciate them. :-)

pablo
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Re: Closure

Postby pablo » Wed Nov 05, 2008 12:00 pm

So far I've not really disclosed specific details of my experience at the school. This has surprised me and I will probably do so before I leave, but I find that I have less of a need to 'get it off my chest' than I expected. Instead I am drawn to look at the impact of my time at St James school on me and my life. It feels more relevant and more immediate to me.

Already it has involved a lot of tears. In fact it's just like having my heart broken. At the same time it is cathartic. (Not very productive at work though!) There's a distillation process going on in me, filtering the pain from the experiences and washing away the pain. I know from dealing with another big issue in my life that there is an end to the road. This is important, because who wants to get into re-experiencing pain if all it's going to do is cause fresh trauma? I've always wondered what it's like to truly be free and resolved on a big issue. I now know the answer is that the memories remain, but they are like a discharged battery, thinking about them doesn't cause pain, and so there's neither any reason to avoid the memories, and nor is there any reason to go visiting them. But if they arise, as memories do when they're triggered, then they arise and can be acknowledged for what they were.

Again I give my appreciation to those who have set up this site and for facilitating this process for me and others.

As I'm writing this thread, I'm also reading my way through the rest of this site. I've just reached "October 2004", David Hipshon's apology and Katherine Watson's posts around the time of the inquiry announcement. In my time at St James, Mr Hipshon appeared fairly late on and was 'just another teacher'. I really only saw him for running. However, I am truly moved by what he wrote. It comes across as brave, mature and heartfelt, and I admire his courage for doing that. Also seeing Katherine's goodwill, patience and compassion is moving. These acts in themselves have lifted something from me. Thank you.

Pablo

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bonsai
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Re: Closure

Postby bonsai » Wed Nov 05, 2008 1:39 pm

pablo wrote:I know from dealing with another big issue in my life that there is an end to the road. This is important, because who wants to get into re-experiencing pain if all it's going to do is cause fresh trauma? I've always wondered what it's like to truly be free and resolved on a big issue. I now know the answer is that the memories remain, but they are like a discharged battery, thinking about them doesn't cause pain, and so there's neither any reason to avoid the memories, and nor is there any reason to go visiting them. But if they arise, as memories do when they're triggered, then they arise and can be acknowledged for what they were.

Pablo. Thank you for sharing this. I find your analogy of the process that you are going through a useful one and very similar to my own experiences. Whilst you had very clear reasons for your own expressions on this board that had little to do with the other participants, I am very grateful that you have posted here. I think it is a very fine example of how and why one must deal with the issues of the past. I hope the fact that you have done it in this way will be a source of inspiration and strength for those who have yet to do address their own however they choose to do so. I believe that there are still plenty out there and rather more than the schools would like to acknowledge.


pablo wrote:In my time at St James, Mr Hipshon appeared fairly late on and was 'just another teacher'. I really only saw him for running. However, I am truly moved by what he wrote. It comes across as brave, mature and heartfelt, and I admire his courage for doing that. Also seeing Katherine's goodwill, patience and compassion is moving. These acts in themselves have lifted something from me.

Those teachers who have had the courage to come forward and speak publicly have had an enornously positive effect. I still hope that others will come forward and do likewise though I have little expectation that they will. The point though is that these apologies do have a lasting effect that serves for a longer time if done in this public manner and that there are others out there who have not yet had the chance to participate in processes that have already been completed (notably the inquiry).

So a big thank you for sharing this process with us here.

Bonsai

pablo
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Re: Closure (Mrs Hare's terrifying singing lessons)

Postby pablo » Wed Nov 05, 2008 7:08 pm

(Thanks, Bonsai. This is helping me. If it helps others too, all the better.)


Just read Sarah M's posts on page 20 of the "EXPERIENCES".
I penned a response here about the emotional numbness thing, but it's just a bit too much disclosure so I've filed that away for the time being.

(Someone also mentioned about being told they're a daydreamer. Again I thought I had the monopoly on that... along with bone idle, lazy, weak, etc.. It seems that our report cards were not far off being carbon copies after all.)


But I do want to talk about Felicity Hare as she was then.
I very quickly came to fear singing lessons and hate Mrs Hare.
This would be sometime between 1975 and 1978 I think. I must have been aged 6-8.

It was a common occurrence for there to be beatings from her, sometimes the whole class, sometimes a select few. It seemed that more time per lesson was spent on beatings than on singing. I have this memory of standing in line like a dinner line, holding one of my shoes, waiting to approach, be told to bend over and receiving a beating. On one occasion I remember watching her single out one boy - I still remember who - for a pants & trousers down multiple smacking, bare hand on bare bum.

I also recall that there appeared to be no reason for the punishments. It was just her frustration at not knowing how to control a class of 6-8 year olds. I think it was probably that we didn't become silent quickly enough when she demanded silence.


In comparison the humourless Noel Skinner was a blessing when he arrived on the scene.

Pablo

pablo
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Re: Closure

Postby pablo » Thu Nov 06, 2008 9:06 pm

As I was recalling the singing lessons yesterday, my memory of the events jolted. At first I remembered the event more as a scene, seeing children lined up. I haven't thought about Mrs Hare for more than a decade, maybe two. Bits of memory jumped into place: oh yes we had to take off one of our shoes. Then suddenly the outside perspective jumped and I reexperienced being in the line, holding my shoe, children ahead and behind me, the adrenilin of fear, the bending over and the sting of impact. Such a visceral experience.

I think it happened so many times that it became the norm. I'm accessing parts of my memory that haven't been touched in so long, each memory triggering the next. My parents always regarded Mr Torpy fondly and so I'd assumed they must have been right, but I remember he used to use this black plimsoll that he kept in the cupboard, or there was the ruler. What a sting. And if you didn't quite touch your toes when bending over, or if you flinched and lifted up a little, you were likely to get another whack. This would happen in front of the class, and so you had to show some bravado, no tears and try to make it to your seat without showing the pain, and then of course sit down. I expect I was slippered, smacked or shoe'd by most of the teachers up to the age of about 10. After that, in the senior school I don't remember being hit so much. Maybe it happened, maybe it didn't.

Pablo

pablo
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Re: Closure (Documentary evidence)

Postby pablo » Thu Nov 06, 2008 9:48 pm

If anyone was keen on actual documentary evidence, here it is.

2 or 3 years ago my dad had a massive clearout of his garage. In there was a large box of schoolbooks. Up until about a year ago I had almost all my old schoolbooks and all my report cards. I did some letting-go in stages. I realised that I don't need this stuff and having it is not helping me. I was keeping it sort of with the idea of being able to say "Look what happened to me and how mad they were" but as time went on I have gradually shifted to realising that actually my life now is more important and that I want to celebrate it and experience it to the full without holding on to this stuff. In two steps over about 3 months, I dumped the report cards and about 90% of the books. I've kept a small handful of the nuttiest stuff (like physics or chemistry lessons that start with a discourse on Agni, Akasha, or one of the other "elements"). So nutty!! Mmm, that'll be handy for O' Level. I also kept a diary from 1983, which has about 6 or 7 entries. The following are some verbatim entries, complete with teacher nicknames, (but with boys names obscured) and they include a lot more detail than I remember myself:

Tuesday, 1st February 1983 (aged 13):
It's worth noting there had been snowfall and there was snow on the ground outside. The following happened in Chepstow Villas in the main building by the back door while we were forming queues to go into lunch.

At lunch I was getting into line and I asked Mmmmm to save me a place. Then Mr Russell (the bloody titch) said "Silence" and I said to Mmmmm, "OK?" and he said "Yes." I was walking into line and suddenly the left of my head went numb and I heard a massive bang. Russell had hit me. I got at the end of the line, ANGRY, and he came and shouted, (as usual), "You don't talk when I tell you to be silent, Okay?" "YES. SIR." I said loudly and angrily. Then he poked me in my chest almost winding me and repeated what he said. I repeat "YES, SIR" and put my hand in my pocket. He wrenched it out and again he said it. Again I said "YES, SIR"
He sent me outside with only day school clothes, to stand by the office wall, hands out of pockets, not leaning against the wall. Kkkkk and Aaaaa were sent out by Salaman (sparrow) God knows why, to stand under the porch. I went over to them and Russell told me to go back. Rrrrr was sent out and the other two in. I said I wasn't allowed to move and he came over to where I was and we spoke about how sickening Russell was.
Rrrrr was allowed inside and Russell came out to start his defence tactics by shouting that my friends would come and ask what happened and that I would probably tell my Mother and Father. By this time my knees were literally knocking, I had my arms crossed and I was reluctantly crying. I shouted at him, "What has this got to do with my parents?" I sussed him but he carried on blathering. In the end he sent me in to have lunch and told me to see him at 4:30.
While I was outside I realised that my pen in my shirt pocket was cracked on the cover. I had 5 mins miserable lunch and went upstairs. After Boxing he was polishing his shoes and he asked to see me. He started showing off his shoe polishing gadget and then said with a grin on his face, "Sorry" and "Do you forgive me?" I didn't answer. Then he said "How do you feel?" I said "I'm still a bit angry" and he said "Well I'd better still see you at 4.30."
After meditation I was in the refectory playing an electronic game and he walked into the kitchen. After a minute I switched off the game and went over to him. He said "You're late" and that I had been cheeky. I said "Sorry" for talking at lunch. He forgave me all to (sic) readily. Then he went on and asked me why, if it was so easy to say sorry it took me 4 hours? Then he asked if I stayed for Homework, and left.
After homework he said to me, "Well?" I said "Well what?" and he said "Oh, nothing" and walked out. After group I told Mum 'n' Dad. They decided to let the matter drop.



Notes:
1. The thing about my pen being cracked was that Russell's poke to my ribs was so hard it cracked the pen, and we're talking one of those Osmiroid ink pens of course.
2. I was staying for homework because I had SES 'group' that night.
3. The following days I had a cold because of having to stand outdoors in the freezing cold with only a jumper over my shirt, no outdoor clothes allowed.
4. That stuff about what I called Russell's 'defence tactics' is that it was obvious to me he was a bit worried I would report him, and like a true abuser he was bullying me to try and intimidate me into silence.
5. When I went back indoors, I had only a very small lunch as I had been given 5 minutes. I was in tears and was passed trying to hide it. Mr Salaman was clearly concerned, though he would not voice anything, but he made sure a place was made for me and that I was served promptly. (Being served promptly mattered, because the rule was that we were not allowed to take food onto our plates; we had to wait to be served. If the people around you were unobservant or didn't like you, you could end up with a thin meal, or occasionally none. Asking to be served or being caught nudging your neighbour in the ribs resulted in punishment, usually waiting 5 minutes without food.)


Wednesday, 2nd February:
Ill due to Russell


Thursday, 3rd Februrary:
At school. Off all sport


Friday, 4th Februrary:
Same as yesterday.



I didn't write anymore in my diary about this event, but there were several 'aftershocks'. Colin Russell called me into detention several times. I recall it being about one per week for the next 4-6 weeks, but it may have just been a day or two between them. At these detentions the farce of apologies and forgiveness continued. The next detention Russell came in and said he was sorry and asked I would forgive him. It transpired later in that detention that he was saying sorry for arriving late to the detention, and nothing to do with the preceding incident. This series of detentions were all about extracting forgiveness from me. Bizarre and twisted or what? If you thought my analogy of "Guantanamo for kids" was over the top, maybe this illustrates my point.

I think the detentions stopped after I told my parents again and they spoke to someone at the school.

Really fucked off,
Pablo

pablo
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Re: Closure (More documentary evidence)

Postby pablo » Thu Nov 06, 2008 10:15 pm

Monday, 28th February 1983 (aged 13):
Went to school, felt ill. Forgot that I left my Blazer in the white cupboard. Had register. Went to assemblyin St Peter's Church with only Jumper. Froze. Came back and found blazer. Put it on for meditation. Mottram (Grizzle) told me to take it off. I asked to wear it. He let me. Phew!
Had Maths. 2nd lesson Greek. Debenham (head (Noddy)) had to take the lesson. Got 1 Black Mark for not having my board up. Even without clips. He called me deaf for not listening to him talking to others. Got another BM for coat. (I almost arrived late and had to put coat on back of chair.) Got another BM for wearing Blazer with permission.



Notes:
1. As you'll see from another thread, black marks added up to punishments, though I don't recall what. A slipper? 3x slipper? Detention?
2. We had caligraphy boards that had to be up at 45 or 60 degrees and we had to clip the books etc. to them for writing in. This was instead of leaning over a desk like in other schools. Each lesson would tend to start with the ritual of putting the boards up and end with putting them down, all of which inevitably had to be done near-silently or we'd have to do it again and again or face punishment, etc. etc..

Not so much evidence of abuse as evidence of the culture and Nicholas Debenham's inexhaustable irritability (and a nice little example of humanity from Desmond Mottram).

Wound up!
Pablo

Daffy
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Re: Closure

Postby Daffy » Thu Nov 06, 2008 10:40 pm

Pablo, as far as I can recall your diary is the first instance of what courts would call a 'contemporaneous account' of what went on at St James. I am looking forward to reading more extracts - please keep them coming. It helps disprove the lie that our memories are somehow warped by the passage of time.

When I left St James, I destroyed every single school report, school book and other 'souvenirs', in a deliberate attempt to put the entire experience behind me. But the souvenirs in my head don't go away so easily.


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