Saturday, 9 July 2005


Laying on my bed reading my latest book, about Tesla's life, I stopped reading to think about what I had read. My mind went off on one of those little obscure journeys it does flitting from one thing to the next when I got to thinking about school life.

I was about eight years old when I was first sent to the headmaster's office for my constant lateness. The lateness was down to my home life and having to make sure the house was cleaned and hoovered before I was able to leave for school. My mother wouldn't let me leave unless it was in a fit state. And then on the way to school I'd try and make up for my miserable life by trying to find an elusive and allegedly lucky, four-leafed clover. I never, ever, found one and I'd end up even later still.

Finally I was sent to the headmaster's office for the lateness. It was terrifying sitting outside the door waiting for I don't know what, when I decided to try and distract myself from the impending doom. (Life is so dramatic when you are a kid!) In a flash I realised I needed a hobby and one that didn't require cost or equipment so I took up "surfaces" as a hobby. Bear with me, this is madness. There I am outside the headmaster's office with my face scrunched up against the walls looking along the surfaces. Noting the smoothness, the roughness, the dents and dips, all sorts. I was quite pleased with myself as I reckoned it was a great hobby and one that I could do anywhere.

The distraction obviously worked because I really can not remember how it went with the headmaster or what happened next. But all these years later I can still see those surfaces and how the corridor looked outside the headmaster's office.

Another time I was sent to the headmaster was when I was 16. I had found myself a job, accommodation and a new life and run away from home. I was away for a very successful week which is another story, but because I had told just one friend an idea of where I had gone, she cracked under pressure from my parents and I was hauled home once they had found me.

It was with great humiliation I appeared as requested at the headmaster's office together with my mother. He went on and on and then turned to me in his booming voice and asked "what have you got to say for yourself young girl?". I didn't know I thought. What sort of question was that. I couldn't tell him the truth of my home life and as my mind whirred overtime I thought I wasn't going to say I was sorry and in any case I knew that if I said sorry he would just go on and on as it was just a facile response. So I said what I think any self-respecting, under-developed, under-sized scrap of a girl would do and I told him quite confidently in response "I want to join the navy". On reflection, as an adult, I think my response completely undermined the situation and he did his utmost not to laugh at the absurdity of it all. He didn't laugh but I don't think the lecture lasted for too long after that.

Original Comments:

Badaunt said...
You had greater inner resources than I did when I was eight, clearly. (You have also inspired a blog post.)
Saturday, July 09, 2005 10:36:00 AM
Cheryl said...
I didn't have your childhood, but only because my mum did.
Would we change what happened, knowing it would change who we are? Its difficult. But I have to say that luck or that childhood fashioned you into a very independant, strong, reliable, resilient, quick thinking and caring person, and into someone determined to see joy, to look for the cracks in the clouds.
So ner. xxxxxx
Saturday, July 09, 2005 11:49:00 AM
doris said...
Many a time I've heard an old bloke (always men) say how they thank their father (usually) for the beatings as it made him into the man he is. I have to say that I have never once adopted those thoughts.

As to whether these experiences craft us into the people we are today then there is no doubt there has to be an element. But I reckon there is another element which comes from within and is unique to everyone that converts our experiences into positive or negative behaviours. And heaven knows, I have had enough negative internal mechanisms going on and to overcome.

After much self-analysis and therapy I am over my childhood so it is no longer an issue - but it is interesting for me to share this now. And to talk about situations I have never told anyone.

I actually thought this story was quite funny! You know how it is having to be parked outside a head teacher's office can be so scary for a kid.
Saturday, July 09, 2005 2:11:00 PM
Cheryl said...
I want to join the Navy - brilliantly funny. But in the same way it was funny when my eldest, aged seven, shut up a nosey neighbour. The woman cornered her to find out where my first husband had gone to rather than ask me - poor kid. Her answer to 'so why havent I seen your dad recently?' was 'he works nights'. To us now, yes its funny. Immediate and very human reaction was to tear a strip off the neighbour.
Saturday, July 09, 2005 3:44:00 PM
Fidget said...
I was NEVER (ok over exaggeration) late for school. The fear of having to go home and say i missed the bus...... oh golly
Saturday, July 09, 2005 7:25:00 PM
doris said...
Gosh Badaunt! That is quite a vivid story of yours.

Ooo - hello Fidget, I shall come visit.

Cheryl - thank goodness for our brilliant kids with their quips.
Saturday, July 09, 2005 8:33:00 PM
Bernadette said...
With your kind permission, Doris, I might borrow your line today!

Continued prayers and thoughts for your friends and family...
Saturday, July 09, 2005 9:26:00 PM
doris said...
Go for it Bonnie - it will be interesting to see where it goes :-)
Saturday, July 09, 2005 9:46:00 PM
Thaleia said...
Going to the prinicipal office is never 'fun'... you added a nice little twist with you're 'going to the navy' part...

Running away from home is never easy... Are you still in contact with the home front now... I left home (leaving just a note) 5 years ago and since 3 years we've been in contact again... I must say it does feel good to have 'm back in my life again.. although things have changed a lot between us...

Take care
Saturday, July 09, 2005 9:57:00 PM
doris said...
Hi Thaleia - that first time was 7 days; the second time a few months later, when I was legally old enough to leave school, I was gone about 2.5 years; and then over the next 12 year we had some major falling outs until the ultimate one when I finally broke free psychologically. There seems to be a family thing with each generation being estranged from the previous so when my kids were both younger I decided I didn't want this cycle to continue and that I had to break it. We all have contact now, a lot of it even, but I wouldn't call it happy families but it does. I'm looking forward to coming to visit your blog :-)

PS. On a funny note, excuse the pun, did you have to think hard as to where to leave the note? I did and found that the back of the fridge was quite good. You see, I had had a failed attempt to leave in which my brother intercepted me so this time I left with minimum stuff (the first time I even packed my typewriter!) and with stealth so that I could get as much distance before it was realised.

Heaven forbid if my kids should ever have to go to the efforts I did. My daughter is 15 and hopefully a lot happier than I ever was.
Saturday, July 09, 2005 10:09:00 PM
doris said...
Cheryl has also written on this theme. So funny!
Saturday, July 09, 2005 10:44:00 PM
PresentStorm said...
HIya via Michele's :)
Saturday, July 09, 2005 11:32:00 PM
jane said...
I was anticipating so many different things you were going to blurt out. Going to the navy wasnt one of them! I caught myself laughing too.
The hurt you felt as a child came thru loud & clear. So sorry.
Sunday, July 10, 2005 10:16:00 AM
Milt Bogs said...
Surfaces sounds good to me. I'm off to give it a go right now.
Sunday, July 10, 2005 3:59:00 PM
Karen said...
I was always late for school too - Mine was due to my love of making daisy chains - I would often arrive an hour or so late but I had some great daisy chains to show for it.
Sunday, July 10, 2005 5:19:00 PM
Pookie65 said...
I would love to have seen the look on the headmasters face. From the mouth of a babe comes a statement of a confidence and assurance.

Not sure if this is a hobby so much as a habit but as I child I started scratching paper. Every type of paper had a unique feel to it. Newspaper was (still is) very grainy to be so thin. And construction paper made ther hair on my arms stand up. To this day I catch myself scratching paper. Perhaps "surface" hobbies aren't so odd afterall. (Why did I just tell you this?)

Anyway, you are a wonderful storyteller. Thanks for sharing.
Monday, July 11, 2005 2:18:00 AM
doris said...
Pookie65 - I can relate to that! And I don't think I could really call my activity a hobby either but I did. (I enjoyed visiting your blog!)

Karen - Ahhh, did you ever tell your teacher the real reason why you were late?

Milt - Enjoy! I did.... and still do! :-)

Jane - Glad you laughed because I did once I re-read what I had written. The whole scenario is just absurd.

Hello Presentstorm - we've visited each other before.
Monday, July 11, 2005 11:30:00 AM
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Monday, July 11, 2005 4:55:00 PM
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Monday, July 11, 2005 4:59:00 PM
guest said...
You were obviously a very imaginative girl child with a good sense of humor. With the strict discipline your mom put you through when you were younger it’s amazing you turned out to be as balanced of a person as you seem to be right now. Even though you never found that 4-leaf clover it appears that luck has been on your side all along.
Monday, July 11, 2005 5:06:00 PM
doris said...
Aww Kilroy :-) I think if one has the appearance of being balanced then others think you are until you actually feel it yourself. A bit like walk the talk, I think?!

It is true I have been ever so lucky in so many ways. I could never have guessed back then the wonderful life I have now. There is something to be said for not giving up.
Monday, July 11, 2005 5:14:00 PM
arrazello said...
I think you and I have something in common. I too was always late and my attendance was unbelievably bad (the truant officer was always around our house). Similar reasons kept me away from school - I was the oldest of nine, lots of home responsibilities. Yep and I left home at 16 but I never ent back!
Wednesday, July 13, 2005 11:24:00 AM
doris said...
Isn't it sad - I bet your parent/s never thought they would lose contact with their eldest. That is not a judgement, just an observation.

But isn't it great to be an adult and away from all that! :-)
Wednesday, July 13, 2005 12:23:00 PM
arrazello said...
I left home because my mum threw me out for washing my clothes too much. She said she couldn't afford the electric! Maybe I should do a little blog on that. Never heard such a petty reason before.
I never held a grudge for long.
Thursday, July 14, 2005 1:26:00 PM
Anomaly Resource said...
Which Tesla book was it?
I read "Tesla: The Modern Sorcerer", by Daniel Blair Stewart and loved it! I realize that a lot of people say it's for kids, but even most of the critics said they enjoyed it. I want to read Tesla's autobiography, but haven't gotten around to it yet...
By the way, you've said that you and your husband are interested in Velikovsky. Well, I just found a very interesting site run by a group of historians who are preserving Velikovsky's unpublished works. I already printed out "In the Beginning" and I'm almost done with it! It makes "Worlds in Collision" look tame!
Friday, August 12, 2005 5:36:00 AM
doris said...
Hi Anomaly!

It is Tesla: Man out of Time Margaret Cheney

I'm still reading it so it hasn't been quite as compelling but I'm still enjoying it otherwise I wouldn't continue.

Your book sounds great! There are a lot of so-called kids books which I think more adults should read. I understand that when computers were becoming more popular that the children's Ladybird book on Computers was the first book of choice for the British Civil Service! It was good - I bought a copy too.

Thanks for the link. I know little about Velikovsky so am always delighted when someone else knows of him.
Friday, August 12, 2005 8:36:00 AM

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