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i.m. Ron Durdey


Each time I walk or drive by the one storey

Edwardian sandstone building with its

daunting windows and an entrance for Boys

and another for Girls and Infants

one of my alma maters, an All Age

Church of England school – a memory

will appear like a genie… It is Empire Day,

’51. Mr Youd, the Head Master,

takes the assembly. We sing, ‘I vow to Thee,

my country, all earthly things above,

Entire and whole and perfect…’ I whisper

something to a friend. ‘Stand on the mat!’

And I do but it is the wrong mat – not

the one outside his office where the rough boys

from the farms and the council estate wait

to be caned. He forgets me. He walks past

at break. ‘What’s your name?’ I tell him and see

he remembers and thinks carefully. ‘Go!

Count yourself lucky this time!’


I would like to think I had, at nine,

been mocking his imperial twaddle.

‘We may have lost India but…’ and knew

it was the wrong mat. Maybe I was sharing

my aunts’ views of him, his school peers:

toady, bully and a quarter master

corporal in Ceylon while their father

and step brothers were on the Western Front.

Perhaps the line ‘The love that makes undaunted

the final sacrifice’ made me think

of my father. Whatever it was

I had learned a lesson.




© Copyright David Selzer
1 Response
  • Mary Clark
    July 5, 2016

    As children, we detect the hypocrisy of self-appointed authority with a sureness we seem to lose later in life.

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