Steele-eyed span

June 24, 2017 at 10:04 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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In Year 5 or 6, there occurred one of the most corrosive incidents of my life.

I was in an experimental ‘open area’ – far removed from standard school rooms.

Several classes occupied a common ‘free-range’ space and we were given phenomenal liberty to learn as we pleased.

One day, a group of teaching students came to marvel at our set-up.

They wandered among knots of kids who were very much doing their own thing.

My thing at the time was cubits: small plastic cubes that connected in a kind of low-tech fischertecknic/LEGO way.

I could play with them alone for hours – and even took them home.

Yet I didn’t realise their educative value.

An earnest student teacher quizzed me about my model making, then offered to show me how the cubes could be used to grasp mathematics.

I wasn’t keen, but onlookers had gathered, so the student teacher went ahead.

He explained that 1 cube could be joined to 9 others to make a line of 10. He then joined 10 lines of 10 to make a plane of 100. For 3 x bonus points, he then showed how 10 planes could be assembled to make a cube of 1000.

Unfortunately, he had lost me at 5.

It wasn’t his fault. Looking back, I certainly wouldn’t have tried to engage a twitchy loner with autism.

After considerable effort, his enthusiasm finally waned as he realised I just wasn’t going to get it.

By this time, I was completely overstimulated by the exercise and freaked out by the observers.

I stumbled away muttering, ‘One times ten times ten times one times ten times … etc.’

That could have been the end of it, but Mrs Steele stepped in.

Having watched the botched interaction, she was livid I’d disrespected our guest.

She pursued me, span me round, knelt down and hissed at my face:

‘Paul Hassing:- You. Are. Miserable!!!’

I looked at her cold eyes, iron hair and lined (now frighteningly compressed) lips.

Her words shot straight into my heart.

Where they remain to this day.

When her fingers finally unclenched from my arm, I tottered off in a different direction, this time muttering, ‘I. Am. Miserable. I. Am. Miserable. I. Am. Miserable.’

And, after several 100 repetitions,

I believed it.

At my session last week, a new counsellor suggested a link between this experience and my childhood sexual abuse.

No-one has posited this before, but the years roughly match.

The counsellor said abused children often act up in class, drawing teacher ire.

And while I don’t think I was misbehaving per se, I feel her theory could have

merit.

It’ll be fascinating to see if EMDR therapy can finally draw this sword from my soul.

Thank you for reading.

Here is some suitably sad music to play us out.


To keep this tale fresh and strong, you may wish to

Whatever the sum, I’ll be filled with thanks.


 

 

 

 

 

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Big drama

December 27, 2016 at 8:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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My catholic high school (secondary college) had an approach to teaching drama that modern parents could consider … questionable.

In Year 7 (Form 1), I experienced this method at age 12.

It was 1977. Only now do I appreciate how odd it all was.

The classes were held in a bricked basement, with no view in or out.

The spherical, late-middle-aged man who controlled the (unsupervised) proceedings was known (modified for legal reasons) as ‘Prof’.

Prof never got out of his chair, but seemed forever rotating in it.

We were a gaggle of prepubescent boys – a world away from today’s knowing, sexualised offspring.

The only naked woman most of us had seen was in our black-and-white biology textbook. (And we had to draw straws for that one … but that’s another story.)

In light of our extreme callowness, Prof decided we needed ‘warming up’ before we could stride the stage in earnest.

He therefore announced that each of us would take several minutes to devise a ‘television commercial’

for our own underpants.

And perform it

in them.

This would occur on the dais in front of Prof’s desk.

Reactions in the group were mixed.

A few extroverts relished the chance and fled to corners to rehearse.

Others seemed bemused, but compliant.

I honestly can’t recall my response – possibly because I was fixated on that of one student.

He was low and slight, with a wig of jet hair shockingly matched to alabaster skin. He had buck teeth, red-rimmed eyes and thin limbs that seemed they’d snap in a breeze.

Let’s call him Damon.

Damon was bullied. Cripplingly shy. And at that instant, he looked like the last soul of a wrecked ship on a reef of pain.

By the time Damon scraped enough courage to ask if he could be excused from this ‘exercise’ Prof was already judging performances.

As boy after boy stripped and spruiked his goods, Damon writhed, wrung his hands and became ever more wretched.

Again he begged Prof’s indulgence, this time in tears, but was brushed off.

At last, Damon’s turn came.

Most of the undies so far had been of the jockette style – bought in multi-hued packs at the supermarket.

Damon’s ‘bog catchers’ were altogether different.

They were so white, they gave his skin colour.

They were so big, they shrank him by a third.

They were so ill-fitted, they looked like they could storm off the stage in protest.

All I recall of Damon’s maiden performance was that it was excruciating, and brief.

The mocking laughter that engulfed him from script to stage door lasted much, much longer.

Possibly to this day.

I’m pretty sure Prof marked Damon very low for lack of ‘presence’.

Other boys got glowing reviews.

And

money.

Yes. Prof produced a handful of currency that drew us like filings to his iron desk.

His fat fingers dispensed largesse to those who’d pleased him most.

We later learned this was Prof’s known modus operandi.

One senior teacher even extolled Prof for ‘generously motivating students out of his own pocket’.

I find this astonishing now.

But at the time, I was so in ‘need’ of funds for my next kit model that I got with the program.

Indeed, I once embraced the role of Female Nurse with such ardour that I rode the school bus sporting my mother’s nail polish – to my father’s chagrin and my future bullies’ delight.

Rumours persisted about certain students who pleased Prof beyond fiscal measure and were treated to private coaching sessions – in his home.

In hindsight, I’m extremely glad my best ‘review’ was $1.60.

I’ll say just one more thing about this unusual episode.

When Bing Crosby died, Prof assigned us to write a journalistic article about his life.

Now this was something to which I could turn my hand.

I spent days researching and crafting the perfect piece.

Prof marked it ‘C++-‘.

I asked where my real mark had gone.

He retorted that, while the article was extremely well written and presented (++) it was too good to have been produced by such a young auteur (C-).

In short, I must have plagiarised the whole thing from a source even loftier than The Sun.

You can imagine

my

disgust.

Further reading.


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