I went home and hid behind a tree, crying over the mean substitute teacher.
Mrs Saunders had cancer so she was taking time off. Our substitute from the first day of term two was Mr Guinness.
Let me tell you about Mr Guinness.
He believed the only way you could learn was if he shouted.
I think Baz my surrogate foster dad and my foster mother believed I was a sook hiding behind that tree, especially when I refused to feed the animals.
I had met Mr Guinness before in Year 2, at a previous school. We practiced for cross country by running around the school boundary three times each morning. You could see him through the mist at the top of the hill, standing on the playground screaming through a microphone; “hurry up you slowpokes! Stop slacking off you lazy bludgers! I could run faster than that and I’m sixty!”
He remembered me too in that first day of term two, as the boy he once had to restrain during a fierce temper tantrum in the school library.
On his first day he yelled at us “Right! I tell you what. In High School the teachers aren’t going to care about you! Or what you do! Or how you learn! So every day from now is going to count. Got it?”
He developed my fear of high school, that no teacher would care about me, that it was a cold world of indifference. Basically, prison rules. Dunking in the toilet, stabbings, and the teachers would look the other way.
The weekly homework was lengthy, detailed and complicated and if we didn’t get it done he would go into his “the teachers of High School certainly aren’t going to care!”
It was difficult to balance feeding the animals with the amount of homework but it was possible with a bit of discipline.
And you know what? Fear of a teacher for the first time probably made a huge difference to me.