A diverse offering twixt the interesting, the unusual, and the amusing.
Friday, 13 December 2013
My Absolute, Absolute, Final School Memoir: "Meet me at the Fives Court".
I was privileged to attend one of the oldest schools in the world (officially founded in 970 AD, but actually much older). It was an institution where one's 'Honour' was taken extremely seriously.
If a senior boy felt that he had been insulted, he had the option to either flog you, or invite you to 'The Fives Court'. The latter was employed very rarely.
Being invited to The Fives Court involved unwritten rules. Centuries of quivering boys had had to endure its unfair system of settling scores against much bigger, older, and stronger, boys.
It was accepted that the senior boy would ALWAYS win the combat; the junior having been taught his lesson was then obliged to shake hands and thank his conqueror (as was the case with flogging).
Cro had upset some senior 'twit' of a boy, and his 'friends' had goaded him into inviting me to The Fives Court. A time was set, the word was spread, and it looked likely to attract a good audience.
I can't remember the name of the 'twit', nor can I remember how I'd insulted him, but I can remember very clearly meeting him at the fives court complete with his second, who held a white towel over his arm in traditional style. It was all very theatrical, and frankly rather ridiculous. As expected, a good baying crowd had turned up to watch the fun.
The second waved a handkerchief, and shouted something like 'FIGHT '. Then the 'twit' started to dance around me on the tips of his toes, with his fists out in front (Ali style). He was shorter than me, well built, but not at all athletic. I stood and watched as he cavorted around the small enclosed courtyard waiting for his moment.
Well, I'm sure you know what's coming next. I lost my patience and threw an opening right jab to his nose, anticipating that this would encourage whatever bravado he possessed. In fact he fell to the floor, clutched at his bleeding nose, and shrieked with pain. The cheers from the hundred or so boys, both in and out of the fives court, soon drowned all else, and I was carried out shoulder high by the highly amused crowd. The Mummy's boy 'twit' was taken off to see Matron.
Unfortunately this wasn't the end of the matter, and I was later called to explain my 'ungentlemanly' behaviour by another senior boy (who'd been vaguely involved in the affair).
I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I had broken with 1000 years of tradition, and that as such I would have to accept punishment.
I bent over, and received 6 of the most feeble whacks in the history of flogging.
It seemed as if everyone, and tradition, had been satisfied (except, I imagine, the 'twit' himself).
p.s. Just in case anyone doesn't know what 'Fives' is, it is an ancient game, rather like Squash, which is played with a gloved hand, rather than a racquet; and takes place in a somewhat smaller high-walled square-ish court.
p.p.s. In 1970 (the school's millenniary year), HM The Queen came to say kind words, and in memory of her visit the school decided to take-in GIRLS. So, 'meeting in the fives court' is now probably confined to history (unless, of course, it would be for alternative reasons). I had, of course, left by this time.
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The difference between an optimist and a pessimist, is that the optimist enjoys himself whilst waiting for the inevitable! I AM that optimist!
This is a daily, optimistic, 'photos and comments' blog. I make no judgements (only occasionally), just notes. If you wish to comment in any way at all, please feel free. Everything and everyone (except the obdurate and dictatorial) is very welcome.
I was born just south of London, but for the past 46 years I've lived in S W France. I am a painter by profession, and writer by desire. Lady Magnon and I live in an ancient cottage, in a tiny village, in perfectly tranquil countryside. We have a vegetable garden called 'Haddock's' (this may crop up from time to time), plenty of fruit trees, and a view that takes the breath away; we also have a Border Collie called Billy. I try to treat our planet with respect, and encourage others to do likewise (without preaching).
Contentment is a glass of red, a plate of charcuterie, and a slice of good country bread. Perfect!