If music be the food of love …

So I’ve just posted Chapter 6 from the spare toilet paper that was my first (and only) novel … ‘Paul King Stole My Haircut’. Looking back at this (which incidentally I wrote around 1999) I remember now that most of the descriptions of the fictional music lessons (and music teachers) were actually quite accurate and based on my real teachers (names changed, of course).

Music lessons were an utterly miserable affair, equipment wasn’t what it is these days and we were never allowed anywhere near the piano. I still can’t remember the names of those wooden bongy things we had, individual tubular blocks that you hit with a rubber mallet thingy …

Being a large, cumbersome school in the midst of the Sussex countryside in a town that was far less interesting than it thought itself meant sheer apathy when it came to teaching music, apart from (let’s call him) ‘Mr Robinson’. A short, goatee-bearded man with a penchant for garish shirts and trousers too flared he had a temper not seen this side of Basil Fawlty losing the plot after the moose falls on his head. Moreover, he looked a lot like ‘Mike’, the unfunny one from The Young Ones, which lead to a lot of spontaneous Rik Mayall impressions and derisory snorting.

Back in the day when it was somehow legal for teachers to throw small, hard, blunt objects at the heads of small, soft vulnerable objects such as children lessons often consisted of ‘Mr Robinson‘ herding three classes of disinteredted students into a suspicious-smelling room with wooden floors and plasterboard walls that bowed and bent if you leant too far into them. ‘Robinson‘ would then strut up and down the classroom like an American courtroom lawyer, prosecuting a hopeless case of mistaken identity; imagining to himself that he’d made the wittiest of remarks, wasted on an audience of bored senseless teenagers who were wondering where ‘Miss Fanciable’, the new drama teacher with the lime-green TR7 spent her Friday nights?

Robinson’s‘ teaching method was delightfully simple – put on Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite on the record player and then strut up and down, shouting things like ‘Crotchet‘, ‘Quaver‘, ‘Allegro‘ and ‘You boy! Chewing gum in the bin you despicable prat!

Robinson’s‘ aim with the board rubber was legendary; rumour had it he could take down a kangaroo from 300 yards and he certainly got plenty of practice aiming at the acre riddled foreheads of Sussex youth. Nowadays, this thug would be arrested – back then he was simply doing his job. I heard a rumour that he’d only recently retired, due to stress. Stress! The f*cker had no idea the worry and anxiety he’d caused to me and my classmates during those dark days.

I hated music lessons. I hated music. And it was all ‘Robinson’s’ fault.

Then one day, relief of a kind arrived with ‘Miss Fanciable‘ – covering his class. Here was our chance to appreciate music, to enjoy our lesson for a change, and whatsmore, ‘Miss Fanciable’ had promised to bring in her Beatles’ record.

Yellow Submarine …

Yellow ‘effin’ Submarine …


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