Tuesday, August 15, 2006

It's a hard life

if you go by Andrews reckoning.

Today was his first day at high school and one might have imagined, going by the wailing and gnashing of teeth we've endured over the past week, that he was going to his own execution!

Now I get to play curmugeonly old fart. I've waited long enough to get this old and I ain't missing out on the chance of playing the 'kids have it easy these days' game :-)

A few questions yesterday elicited the information that he, over the next year, attends school for 180 days where each day contains precisely 5 hours of classroom time. Geeze, I wish my life could be so easy!

But perhaps I'm being unfair; we did 6 hours a day for something like 260 days of the year but we didn't have homework. Factor that in and it probably evens out.

Of course I couldn't resist asking if they still do 'duckings' these days. I remember being filled with terror toward the end of 1965 as my own entrance to Footscray Tech, a 'tough' school, approached. All kinds of tales abounded about the harsh initiation rituals meted out to the new fish. One tale in particular; it seemed that they maintained a 44 (55 US) gallon drum three quarters filled with urine and each new boy was tossed in head first!

Adult perspective makes it hard to imagine that I ever believed such a tale but I surely did! At ten or eleven we didn't have enough experience to be able to apply plausibility tests; if our elders by two years could describe, with relish, what lay ahead of us we believed!

And of course, a year or two later, when we were in the same position, we retailed the same stories to our younger brothers. I didn't have a younger brother but I didn't let that stop me embellishing my friends descriptions to their younger brothers!

Things don't change[^]. Forty years pass and I can look back on it and see it for what it was and yet I still play the game.

The drum of piss turned out to be a myth but that didn't reduce my fear of a ducking! I reckon I spent most of the first three or four months of school year 1966 in a state of permanent thirst as the only way to avoid having to go to the toilet; only in that way could I avoid the indignity of being tipped, head first, into a toilet bowl and having the flush lever pulled!

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