One thing you’ll do as you approach a certain age
Is to take more notice of the ‘Family Notices’ page,
Though todays tabloid lacks yesteryears broadsheet heft
It’s a morbid pleasure checkin’ out who you know has left.
I like to read the morning paper before the afternoon
So one morn I ordered brunch and opened the Tribune;
The usual ho-hum news, more plague, pestilence and war,
Then I fell upon some news that shook me to my souls core.
The sweet mochaccino suddenly took on a sour taste,
The ever sunny tan faded as I sat staring, chalk faced,
For there, amongst the fine print writ bold in gothic font
Was news of a loss so heavy I dropped my damn croissant!
My old Deputy Headmaster of dear Hagleigh High- dead?
I raised my trembling hands up to hold my shaking head,
I thought of the lessons that Bertie had dutifully imparted,
How his role as leader was never less than whole-hearted.
I recalled the angles and planes of that indomitable face,
All those deep-seared lifelong lessons time cannot erase…
My concerned wife said I appeared to be the picture of grief,
She handed me some tissue, which I took with tearful relief.
The old Alma Mater had supplied a glowing obituary
For one most considered Hagleigh’s highest luminary,
The tale they told of this sainted man of the highest order
Compelled me to compile my thoughts on the Tribunes border.
In my day, at Hagleigh High the most I hoped to achieve
Was to gain School Certificate and honourably leave,
Unfortunately, to gain this certificate one had to pass
Both English and Mathematics- a step too far for me, alas.
To fail in either one meant one hadn’t made the grade,
You’d be cast off to the Armed Forces, or off to get a trade,
And the Deputy-Head taught my class Mathematics- of course!
One lousy week in his class saw him flogging this flagging horse.
I was made painfully aware I had deficiencies to overcome,
Not heeding screamed instructions? to him I’m deaf or dumb;
In my first month I knew mathematics could not be mastered
Thanks to a sneering confidence-sapping bat-crap crazy bastard.
I was left an an utter loss by Berties scrawlings on the board,
The answer I came up with was ‘shut up, pray to be ignored,’
Yet my English improbably improved with every word I wrote-
Penmanship forging ahead; I forged a most convincing sick note.
Pre-math class every morning you’d find me sitting, sweating
In the toilets, relieving myself of any chance of pants wetting,
Every other cubicle engaged by four-fifths of the Fifth Form,
Every coughing, wheezing weedy Kool kid smokin’ up a storm.
I do still recall those chill mornings, getting my knickers in a twist,
All I need is to roll the Rolex up, count the livid scars on my wrist.
So, to end my little bye bye Bertie story, I’m glad he’s gone to Glory,
But first, let’s hope, like me, he does three full years in Purgatory.