Saturday, June 18, 2005

Catholic dogs sit on logs

There was a Catholic school down the road and around the corner from the primary school I attended.

We were released from thralldom at 3:30 PM, they were captives until 3:45 or thereabouts. Thus we were able to position ourselves to jeer at the Catholics as they emerged from school. We'd chant 'Catholic dogs sit on logs, stink like frogs' and other juvenile insults. They responded by chanting 'Proddie dogs sit on logs etc etc' but we were unanimous in condemning such peurile insults as mere imitation.

I'm totally at a loss to explain just why we did this. I don't think a one of us, on either side, had any idea of the historic rivalries between Catholics and Protestants. I did it because my mates did it and it seemed like fun. I'm sure they did it because their mates did. Or because their older brothers had done it (I had no older brother). Or whatever. Sometimes the jeers escalated into fistfights.

It seemed like fun at first but, for some reason, one of the Catholics took a dislike to me in particular. He was about the same age as I but he was somewhat bigger and he had hard fists. I was never much of a fighter; then, as now, I'm better at talking my way out of trouble than at fighting my way out of it. But talk didn't work with this kid.

To make matters worse, he lived at the end of our street. Our street did a T junction onto Gamon Street and he happened to occupy the house directly looking down our street. I swear, at times it seemed as if he was watching specifically for me. I'd be on my way somewhere that needed me to pass through that intersection and suddenly, without warning, he'd descend. Made my life hell for a couple of years.

I wish I had a nice powerful ending to this; some story of the underdog beating the crap out of the bully and the bully retiring, licking his wounds. But it didn't happen that way. At the end of 1966 we moved to a different suburb which got him off my back. But that wasn't the last time I saw him.

He cropped up at Footscray Tech in 1967, in my class. A bit of an adrenalin filled moment when I first saw him but, for whatever reason, he didn't do a thing. Indifference reigned. We probably exchanged a dozen words that entire year and then he was gone to another school.

I have no idea what his name was.

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