Ken's Story Telling

Dave Spence

MD virtual champion 2020. Golden Pie winner 2018.
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I was lucky enough to manage to get Ken, my father, over to us the day before lock down; he has, therefore, been with us quite a while and my missus and I have been a captive audience (his favourite type) for his stories. I have heard most of them hundreds of times over the years but they still manage to evoke emotion, laughter, sadness etc. I must stress that they are all absolutely true, I have verified them via his mates and his numerous brothers and sisters. This is one of my favourites, I will recount it as a story:-

Ken sat at his desk in the big classroom, the teacher droned on in a monotone and he was gazing out of the window bored rigid, what interest did an 11 year old have in the first world war? The other 30 odd kids in the class were also bored, but they had the sense to look as though they were paying attention.
"SPENCE" roared the teacher "what did I just say boy"?
"I don't know sir" stammered Ken
"Get out here" snarled the teacher
Ken stood up and adjusted the waist of his older brothers 'hand me down' trousers and shuffled towards the front, he couldn't do any more than shuffle as the shoes he was wearing were two sizes too big for him. His mother had got them from the shoeless children's charity the previous day. He stood trembling at the front of the classroom whilst the other kids tried not to draw attention to themselves because they knew what was going to happen.

"Why were you not listening"? said the teacher
"I don't know sir" murmured Ken as he stood there very self conscious in his hand me down trousers, his oversized shoes and the old white blouse that had belonged to one of his sisters. The fact that he was from a very poor family was patently obvious, being that he had 12 surviving siblings and the year being 1938 meant that money was 'tight' to say the least and he had lost count of the number of days schooling he had missed through not having any shoes to wear and it was a school rule that pupils were not allowed barefoot. The 'new' ones he now had should last him a couple of years but he knew that, unless he was prepared to fight for them, one of his brothers would steal them; the saying first up best dressed was an absolute truth in his family.

"Let see if we can't do something to help you pay attention" said the teacher "bend over my desk".

Ken bent over the desk, legs trembling; he had been in this position before.

Mr Green (the teacher) then brought a cricket bat from the corner behind the desk and with two hands, let fly on Kens backside with all the strength he could muster.

Ken bit his lip against the blinding pain and resisted the urge to cry out or straighten up, he knew that to do so would prolong the punishment.

The teacher swung the bat again and again until he reached the obligatory six.

"Now go and stand outside" said the teacher, as though nothing had happened.

Ken went out of the door and stood there trying to hold back the tears. He stiffened; he could hear the headmaster talking around a corner in the corridor. If the headmaster caught him outside the room it would be a caning, if he went back into the class without being invited he would get 'the bat' again; he legged it down to the door, across the playground and, climbing the railings, made his escape. He moped around the back streets of Lenton until the big clock outside the Player's factory told him it was time for him to go home.

"What's happened to your trousers?" asked his mother as he slipped into the back door.

Ken felt behind him and realised there was a tear in the backside of his trousers which must have happened when he climbed the school railings.

"I fell over mam, sorry"

"Come here" said his mother picking up needle and thread and she dragged him over her lap and started to sew his trousers 'in situ'. His shirt had ridden up and his mother suddenly stopped sewing,

"What are these marks Kenny?" she asked quietly

"Mr green hit me for not listening" replied Ken

His mother sat him down by the fire and without saying a word passed him a hunk of bread that had been scraped around the frying pan. Ken could not believe his luck and for a few blissful minutes he was the happiest boy in the world.

The next day he was once more sat at his desk and once again Mr Green was droning on, Ken was careful this time to look attentive. He risked a glance out of the window and saw someone, who looked like his mother, striding towards the school. Looking through the window at the other side of the room,he had a view of the corridor and he was horrified to see that it was his mother heading towards the door. As she got closer Ken lifted the lid of his desk to hide, the door was opened and he risked a peep round the side of the lid.

His mother walked in and approached the teacher.
"Can I help you mrs......?" he asked
"Are you Mr Green"
"Yes" came the reply
Ken's mother drew back her arm and punched him full in the face,

"I'm Mrs Spence, you lay a finger on my son again and I will kill you"

She then turned on her heel and walked out, leaving the teacher holding a bloody handkerchief to his nose.

The teacher never spoke another word to Ken for the rst of his school life.
 
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