Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Smoking Monkeys And Spanish Gold

Marie Lewis was the oldest pupil at  St. Olga's School For Girls. Marie was the eldest by quite a clear margin due to the fact that during her fifth year she had contracted a very bad case of glandular fever that had kept her off school for almost four months.
After a long discussion with both Marie and her parents, it was decided by the headmistress that rather than taking her O levels and running the real risk of failing each subject, it would be wiser for her to redo her whole fifth form. So Marie repeated the year in classes with her juniors though socially she was classed as a sixth former. So when it came to doing her A levels again she was with pupils a year her junior, so now in upper six Marie was almost nineteen years of age with her birthday falling in early September.

Despite her age though Marie was sitting in the dining room for the second time this week on an after school detention. Though today she looked a lot different to how she looked on Tuesday night. Of all her clothing that she had worn on Tuesday only the red V-neck jumper was the same, as she really did not wish to give Miss Jane Morley any excuse for criticism or for further punishments.
Gone was the short black skirt from Tuesday now replaced by a knee length charcoal grey skirt.
Gone were her dark tights, now she was sporting a pair of white ankle socks.
Gone was her ivory blouse, tonight she was wearing a crisp white shirt and the school green and red tie.
Her fashionable shoes had now made way for an old pair of flat black ones.
She had even went to the extent of digging out a pair of plain white cotton knickers should Miss Morley decide to give her a full uniform inspection, something totally unheard of in the sixth form but this was Miss Morley and Marie had really upset her!

Marie looked up quickly as she heard a door open, it wasn't the door from the teachers and admin area though, it was only the door from the assembly hall. In walked three girls from the lower school, their green jumpers giving away their lowly rank in the school's pecking order. The three young teens looked at Marie and her state of dress in amazement, as no sixth formers ever really wore their full uniform.

"Looks as if someone is in trouble tonight girls!", one of the young teens said, the other two sniggered at her comment, Marie just hung her head as she pondered as to just how much trouble she may be in.

Marie was right to be worried, Miss Morley was quickly gaining a reputation as being one of the strictest teachers in the school, a woman who was justifiably feared by all the lower school!
That though was only half the problem, at twenty four Miss Morley was the youngest teacher at the school. Also she was from the same village as Marie, where she still lived at her parents home above the local newsagents, and she was also Marie's elder sister Gaynor's best friend.
Jane Morley and Gaynor had known each other since they were about six, they both went to the same schools, including St Olga's, and were practically inseparable all through their childhood and teens. Even now, boyfriends notwithstanding they were as close as ever. When they reached their latter teens they both babysat  Marie if her parents went out on an evening. Then as Marie reached her teens she would go out with them to concerts etc., at Marie's eighteenth birthday party it was Jane and Gaynor that more or less carried her home!

It was this social closeness that was the cause of both of Marie's detentions, it was the very fact that they were both going to the City Hall tonight that had led to her being in this position.
On the Monday lunchtime, Miss Morley had ventured into the sixth form block to see Marie about what time the mini bus would be leaving tonight, she couldn't find her in the common room but was directed to the toilets. As she entered the toilets, Marie and another girl called Susan were having a cigarette, Susan had the good sense to immediately throw her cigarette into the toilet bowl. Marie though just continued smoking, which Miss Morley saw rightly as a distinct lack of respect, so instead of talking about concert buses she said.

"Lewis what on earth do you think you are doing?"

"Well I'm just having a quick ciggy, Ja..  Miss Morley," her smile fading as she saw the look upon Miss Morley's face.

"Has there been a sudden change in rules that I'm not aware of, Lewis?"

", Miss...but you know everyone turns a blind eye for sixth formers...."

"Hard to turn a blind eye when it is so blatant," Miss Morley said shaking her head, she knew she would have to take some kind of action to save face, or word would get out about her being soft on her friend's sister, "an hours detention tomorrow night in the dining room,"

With that Miss Morley left the stunned Marie standing red faced, cigarette still in her hand.
St. Olga's held a policy regarding after school detentions, they were always served on the school day after they were awarded, this gave the pupil time to let their parents know that they would be home later than usual. In Marie's case though all it did was gave her an extra day to stew upon the unfairness of her punishment.
So by three forty five on the Tuesday when Marie entered the dining room she was incandescent with rage at her supposed friend.
Another policy that the school held was that the detention was not to be used merely for the pupils to complete their homework. Some of the teachers would just make the girls sit in total silence for the hour's duration, others though would give their charges tasks to do, lines or perhaps an essay. The reasoning for this being that teenagers daydream enough without it being actively encouraged in detention.
Miss Morley was one of that persuasion that teens daydreamed to much, she also did not like the metronomic repetition of lines, she always chose an essay unlike most of the other staff members though she would actually read the essay after it was handed in. So when she entered the dining room and saw the annoyed looking Marie, she merely handed her four foolscap lined sheets and said.

"Right, Lewis, I would like five hundred words on your views about school children smoking," she deliberately emphasised the word children in the sentence.

Glaring as she took the paper Marie nodded silently, then she watched as Miss Morley went to take a seat at one of the top tables reserved for the teaching staff and pulled out a load of exercise books from her bag and set about marking them.

"I'll give you five hundred words on smoking all right you bitch!" Marie muttered under her breath.

Marie then set about madly scribbling her ideas down, but stopping every so often to make sure of her word count, she wanted to get her point across, but did not want to give Miss Morley the satisfaction of getting more than her due quota of words!
After about half an hour Marie had finished her assignment, so she spent the next half hour trying to annoy Miss Morley. Tapping her teeth with her pen, drumming her finger nails on the table clicking her high heels upon the wooden floor. All these little distractions echoed nicely in the empty room much to Marie's satisfaction.
Then when four forty five finally arrived Marie stood up, picked up her bag and marched to Miss Morley's table.

"Here is your essay, Miss!" Marie almost spat out as she threw the sheets down on the table and stormed out of the school through the teachers entrance at the back of the dining hall. 

The following morning as Marie was having a history lesson on the ramifications of the treaty of Versailles, there was a knock upon the classroom door and a rather nervous looking first or second former entered the room.

"Yes dear how can I help you?" asked Miss Morgan.

"Er...please, Miss, Miss Morley needs to see Marie Lewis in the teacher's staffroom," the girl said in obvious awe at being in the sixth form block.


"Yes Miss.....she told me to tell you it was a matter of some importance,"

"Well, Marie, you heard the you go!"

Marie could feel her self blush, as all eyes in the room were now focused upon her.
Reaching the staffroom she knocked and waited, not even upper six pupils could get away with just walking into the inner sanctum of the staff block.
Miss Morley answered the door.

"Please come in, Lewis we seem to have a little problem," Miss Morley said as she held open for door for Marie to enter.

Now Marie was starting to feel a little edgy as she saw last night's essay in Miss Morley's hand.

"Here, Lewis," Miss Morley said handing the essay over, "have yourself a little read and you will see where our, or should I say your problem lies!"

                                                     Smoking Monkeys And Spanish Gold

So here I am in the school dining room being held back for an hours detention, a young adult of almost nineteen years of age kept back for detention.
What was my heinous crime to put me in this situation?
Smoking on school premises.
OK I accept the fact that it is strictly speaking against the school rules, surely though as I was smoking in the six form block toilets, well away from the inquisitive eyes of the lower school some leeway should have been and normally is given by most of the teaching staff? 
After all a person of my age is old enough to vote, to marry, to drink alcohol, and to serve and to die for the country in the armed forces, but not allowed to have a lunchtime cigarette.
Does this not seem somewhat wrong?
Then we come to how these cigarettes were purchased in the first place. Did it involve some kind of black market illegal wheeling and dealing?
No it involved me going into the local shop and handing over some of my hard earned cash to the lady behind the counter. I did say hard earned cash as I work Saturdays to finance my seemingly, at least in the eyes of some members of this school's staff, illegal habit.
As I stand in the newsagents what do I see around me?
I see all the paraphernalia of smoking adapted for a child's usage.
On one stand holding children's toys I see smoking monkeys, in amongst the sweeties I see Spanish Gold candy tobacco.
It does not end there though, under the glass counterpane we have chocolate cigars, chocolate lighters and of course candy cigarettes complete with coupons to collect. Unlike real cigarettes these coupons cannot be collected for purchasing household goods, they are only cards for collecting and swapping in the school play yards of England.

So surely it is these shopkeepers and not myself who is setting the bad example to our youth?
These shopkeepers and confectioners not only passively promoting smoking, they are making it to be an aspirational choice. Why would they do that? Why would they promote an unhealthy activity and encourage it upon our youth?
Could it be the fact that young children spend all their pocket money on sweets, when they reach their teens however a lesser ratio of their allowance is spent on sweets, then in adulthood even less again. The very shops that sell these sweets also sell cigarettes, is this just a coincidence? Or is it a deliberate plan to encourage smoking and in so doing keeping the till bells ringing!

Most early mornings in our local shop you will see second and third formers dressed in full school uniform buying cigarettes plainly not purchasing them for their parents. In my mind this is no different to the prohibition rum runners of nineteen thirties America encouraging and facilitating the breaking of laws for profit! Of course this is only my humble opinion.


As Marie reread her work she started to chew at the inside of her gums, last night as she wrote it it seemed like biting satire. Now though it seemed like the chaotic ramblings of a sullen teen, she also knew that she had gone to far in comparing Miss Morley's mother to the Chicago Mafia!

"Er...well... erm." Marie struggled to find anything to say.

"Apart from the fact that your views are risible and insulting, though this in only my humble opinion," Miss Morley said paraphrasing Marie's last line, "the work is incomplete, so your detention last night is now in my humble opinion void, and will be treat as such!"

"What! what do you mean incomplete and void?" Marie said in utter confusion.  

"Your charming little tale is just short of five hundred words," Miss Morley held her hand up to stop Marie butting in,"you seemed to have counted the title as part of your essay, so as I said that is looked upon as you not doing last night's punishment, so we will be back in the dining room tomorrow evening,"

"But tomorrow is Thursday....we are...." again Miss Morley held up her hand to silence Marie's protestations.

"Tomorrow at three forty five, Lewis, that is all now run along back to your classes!"

So that brings us to today and Marie sitting in the dining room awaiting her fate.
Another door opens, this time it is Miss Morley who upon seeing the three other girls sitting at the table across from Marie says.

"Why are you three in here?"

"We are waiting for Miss Hardly...sorry I mean Miss Yardley," Miss Morley was all to aware that that was no slip of the tongue, it was in reference to Miss Yardley's rather flat chest, it was common knowledge amongst all the staff that Miss Yardley was known as "hardly Yardley" by most of the girls. Miss Morley also knew that due to Miss Yardley's shock of ginger hair and the popularity of the Star Wars film that she was also known as "Chewbacca", though non of this really concerned Miss Morley tonight.

"Well don't think you are going to be sitting there chatting, spread yourselves around the room till she gets here," Miss Morley said and the girls slowly picked up their coats and bags, "NOW GIRLS! or I'll have the three of you back in here on Monday," at that the girls quickly changed tables.

Miss Morley then went over to Marie, Marie looked up her pale blue eyes peeking out from below her curly dark brown fringe, she looked every bit the hunted animal.

"Right, Lewis, I don't want any histrionics OK," she whispered, and Marie nodded," neither of us want to be here any later than necessary tonight, so pick up your things and we are going to the sickbay,"

Marie felt her heart drop, these were the very words she did not want to hear. The sickbay at St. Olga's served two purposes, one was the obvious one a place for girls to go for first aid or when "taken poorly", the other usage was it was the office that teachers used when caning a pupil.
Marie rose to her feet and slunk along behind Miss Morley, then she had the added embarrassment of having to stand by the glass doors waiting for Miss Morley getting the punishment book from the school secretary. Standing there in full view of the three lower school girls she knew that by lunchtime tomorrow it would be all around the school that a sixth former had "got the whack".
She could almost hear it in her ears "can you imagine, being that old and getting the cane?". Marie's eyes were already starting to mist over and they hadn't even got to the sickbay yet.

"Come on then," Miss Morley said as she breezed past Marie, the large brown ledger under her arm.

On entering the room Miss Morley flicked on the light and pulled down the blinds, then she quickly filled out the entry in the book and asked Marie to sign it. Marie looked at the line, it read: Four strokes upon the bottom for not fully attending detention.
Marie knew that that was not quite the whole truth, but signed anyway.

"Right, Lewis, I know this is your first caning so I will explain the procedure," Miss Morley said as if she was instructing a class as she collected a cane from the wall cupboard, "you will lift your skirt up clear of your knickers, then bend over placing your palms upon the seat of the chair, any leaping about or general acting up will earn you extra strokes, so when you are ready please,"

Marie knew protesting would do her no good, so she slowly lifted up her skirt and bent over. Her old cotton knickers may have fitted her once, but now with her hips and bottom filling out to a more mature feminine shape the very seams seemed in danger of popping their threads.
Marie gritted her teeth and closed her eyes, she did not have long to wait, firstly she felt a light brush of the cane on her drum tight underwear followed by a searing sheet of pain as connected truly.
She opened her eyes, the floor beneath her was a blur and before she could gain any composure she felt a second blaze of heat. This second stroke brought forth a scream of pain.

Miss Morley shook her head, "what a drama queen" she thought to herself as she picked out her next line of attack. This time she chose the lower part of the proffered bottom, knowing that it would make contact with a fair proportion of bared skin due to those badly fitting knickers.
It was too much for Marie, she leaped up clutching at her bottom and then did an impromptu rain dance as she tried to stamp the pain out from her bottom!
Miss Morley sighed deeply and shook her head, "why does she keep putting me in these situations" she wondered.

"Lewis that has just earned you two strokes on the hand!"

"Please I couldn't help it.....please....." Marie said tears now running down her face.

"No I warned you and once I say something......." Miss Morley said her voice full of sympathy, a tone that no other girl had heard in this room, "right hand out palm up."

Shaking like a leaf Marie held her hand out, the first stroke caught her full across the fleshy part of her palm, the second stroke however due to Marie's involuntary reaction of trying to pull away from the stroke caught her fingers. This sent Marie off on another little dance, this time with her hand wedged deep in he left armpit.

"We are going to be here all night at this rate," Miss Morley said, again shaking her head at all the fuss that was being made, "one more on your bottom then you can go!"

Marie nodded, her eyes blinking wildly as she pulled up her skirt for the second time and again bent over the chair.
For all that Miss Morley was feeling sorry for Marie she knew it would not be fair on other pupils for her to go easy on her.
So she didn't.
The final stroke was just as tight as the preceding ones, but surprisingly it was took in a much better spirit by Marie.

Miss Morley sighed in relief that she had finally managed to get this brought to a close.

"Right Lewis, you can adjust your clothing and collect up your things and go now,"

"Thank you, Miss, I'm sorry you know I never meant to insult your know that I really like her?"

Miss Morley nodded as she picked up the punishment book and replaced the cane in the cupboard.

Five minutes later as Jane Morley drove out of the school gates, she saw the forlorn figure of Marie at the bus stop across the road. She pulled her car over and leaned across and opened the passenger door, slowly and with much discomfort Marie lowered herself into the seat. They then travelled along in silence, till Jane finally broke the deadlock.

"Should be a good show tonight?"

"I've read about his gigs and he supposed to be excellent live," Marie answered enthusiastically.

"He bloody wants to be at five quid for a ticket!"

"I know but it is David Bowie!" Marie said wincing in pain as her throbbing fingers pulled out two cigarettes from her packet,she lit one and handed it to Jane, then lit the other one for herself.

Jane looked at Marie and shook her head for the umpteenth today, and said.

"Bloody smoking monkeys! what on earth were you thinking about?"

Both girls laughed, they were back to being friends and not teacher and pupil.

                                                             THE END