My Takes

Just my humble opinion…

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

Halloween at The Walcotts Again!

Cave woman, Mrs. Roper and Robin Hood

On Saturday, a collection of famous people convened at our house.  Dexter, Robin Hood,  Mrs. Roper, Cat Woman…even the Devil showed up, accompanied ironically by an Angel.

It was  our 10th Anniversary Halloween Party and we also used the occasion as a house warming also.  Many of our friends had yet to see the new house.

Amie worked diligently, as usual, to put together a Car Rally as the precursor to the evening.  We were divided into four teams and given various tasks to do, problems to solved and objects to acquire throughout the city.  I was selected as the driver for our team.   She also did an admirable job with the food, creating some unique Halloween treats and dishes.  My favorite were the ribs and meatballs.

This was my third straight year taking part in a car rally and my third straight year being on the last place team.  I am not sure what I’m doing it wrong but as the common factor, I place the blame firmly on my head.

Trying on a woman’s shoe in a store.

The evening went great.  It was good to see friends we talk to but haven’t seen in a long time. (Thanks Facebook).  It was also sobering to see how much the gang had changed in just ten years.   Our parties used to be loud and late with enough drinks to stock a small bar.   Next morning would find someone sleeping on our couch.  It’s much tamer now with a few of us having kids or just aged.  Going hard is not an option anymore.

Oh, Amie and I went as Cave Man and Cave Woman.

Straddling the line between bravery and stupidity.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier #respect #honor

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier #respect #honor (Photo credit: FashionbyHe)

As Hurricane Sandy bears down on the United States with dangerous intent, I read an article that the US servicemen who guard the Tomb of The Unknowns, would not be taking refuge from the storm.  They would instead, treat it like any other day and stand guard, just as they have since 1948.  Bravery? Dedication?  Or just plain stupidity?

Now don’t get me wrong, I admire the brave men and women of the armed forces who fight to protect our countries.  I also take my hat off to the many who died in the wars.   Their contribution is admirable.   Still, I think that these soldiers lives should not be put at risk while their superiors are most likely hiding out from the storm.  I am sure that the dead soldiers that they are guarding would rather they seek self-preservation than guard their remains.  It’s a good show of respect yes, but also a good show of stupidity and misdirected commitment.

I think that if the dead unknowns could talk they would say, “Don’t be idiots, we are already dead.  Do you want to end up like us?  Go run for cover!  We’ll still be here when it’s all over.”  I can understand firemen risking their lives to save the living but risking your life to save the dead?  Doesn’t make sense.

Just my take.

 

Conversation with an insurance claims adjuster

Yesterday, I was grilled like a piece of steak, by an insurance claims adjuster.  I had made a claim for damages caused when a recently replaced control arm of our family van broke.  The conversation went something like this:

Adjuster:  So tell me again about the events leading up to this accident

Me:  Are you kidding me? What accident? I know I shouldn’t have come here.  This is stupid.  Ok, like I said we were at a car rally and I was the driver.

Adjuster:  So you said you went to pull away from the curb and then what?

Me: I heard a bang and I thought I’d hit the car in front of me.  I tried to reverse but it wasn’t moving.

Adjuster:  One sec, let me write all this down…

Me:  What are you writing?  There’s nothing to write.  The silly thing just broke and that’s it.

Adjuster:  You also said you were with some women.  What are their names?

Me:  Well don’t make it sound like that.  I wasn’t with some women. I was with my team.  Their names are Linda, Donna and the other I don’t remember.  They work with my wife.

Adjuster:  So we can contact them to verify your story?

Me:  Oh yes, I have nothing to hide.

Adjuster:  Anyone else saw the accident?

Me:  It’s not an accident! Yeah, the other teams heard the bang and looked at me thinking I had also hit the vehicle ahead.

Adjuster:   I see, I see…one sec.  *Types furiously*

Adjuster:  Did your wife hit a curb or been in an accident recently with the van?

Me:  Absolutely not!  We barely drive the vehicle as we work all day. It’s parked at either my work or hers.

Adjuster:  Have you hit a large pothole recently?

Me: Nope.  Nothing unusual.  Now what are you getting at?

Adjuster:  Anyone else other than you and your wife drives the vehicle?

Me:  Nope, we have young kids who are not old enough to drive.  What does this have to do with the arm breaking?

Adjuster:  I see, I see…So you were at a car rally put on by your wife’s work and you went to pull away from the curb and your lower control arm broke.  Is that correct so far?

Me:  Now this is really pissing me off! I am already half an hour late picking up my boys from the sitter and you keep asking me the same dumb questions over and over?  Why don’t you take the claim and shove it! Yes it’s correct.

Adjuster:  And you had this part replaced in May of this year?

Me:  Correct.  Five months ago.  This should not have happened and I’m not paying for this!  Look young fella, it’s not like I even intended to make a claim.  All I wanted was for the garage to fix my vehicle at no cost to me.  I’m not sure how you got involved in all this.

Adjuster:  Understood.

Adjuster:  (Close to an hour later)  Well sir, I will pass this on to the adjuster on your case (What!?  You are not my adjuster? You just wasted my time as the go-between??) and he will decide if we should go ahead.  I can tell him that you seemed honest and I have no reason to doubt your statement.  Have a nice day!

Me:  So much for a 5 minute meeting.  Took me an hour to say ‘my lower control arm broke.‘  Thanks.  Oh and could you please put a rush on that as we are a family of six and we need the van back asap.

Adjuster:  I will, no problem.

The sitter was not too pleased with me when I picked up the boys.

Thursday’s Thoughts: Winnipeg’s Praying Police Chief

A few weeks ago, the City of Winnipeg got its first black police chief when Jamaican born Devon Clunis got the nod for the position.  Devon, who has over 20 years of service, also served as the police chaplain.  Since his selection, his strong Christian faith has been a topic of discussion.

In one of his first meeting with the media,  (A Christian news magazine), Clunis wore his faith on his sleeve and said the following:

EXCERPTS from the ChristianWeek story, New police chief: prayer will play a role in reducing violent crime

– “I’m a little tired of us… being ‘(the) murder capital of Canada,’ ” says Devon Clunis, who was appointed chief of police at the beginning of October. “People consistently say, ‘How are you going to solve that?’ It’s not simply going to be because we’re going to go out there and police it away. I truly believe that prayer will be a significant piece of that.

“What would happen if we all just truly — I’m talking about all religious stripes here — started praying for the peace of this city and then actually started putting some action behind that?” he adds. “I believe something phenomenal is going to happen in our city. I truly believe it’s coming. I don’t think I’ve arrived at this position just by chance.”

– Clunis attributes his success to God. He says he has never asked God to make him a powerful person, but rather he has prayed that God make him a leader who treats people with dignity and respect and who is successful in his endeavours.

– Clunis says at the end of the day, he just wants to give of himself to help the community.

– “God still cares, He’s still involved in our lives,” Clunis says, “and I believe without a shadow of a doubt the only reason that I am in this position is because God is involved in it. Without a shadow of a doubt.”

Yesterday, the media was in a frenzy.  ‘Chief urges prayer to fight crime’ was the general headline, his words sadly taken out of context.

Chief Clunis has my support.  I am happy to see a man of strong christian values in his position.  I have seen, read and heard of too many ‘bad cops’ and ‘dirty cops” that I, for the most part, have lost faith in them.   Clunis has given me a reason to have at least a glimmer of hope.

As for using prayer as part of his arsenal, why not?  With Winnipeg the nation’s crime capital, what do we have to lose? And while you kneel in prayer for our city,  don’t forget to say one for Clunis.  He needs our prayers and support and we need him to stay strong in his faith no matter what comes.

Oh, and like him, I also believe that the only reason he’s in this position is ‘because God is involved in it’.

All the best, Chief!  Keep the faith!

Just my take.

 

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo

No one bothered to tell me about this show before? I had to find in while surfing the web.  No one also bothered to think that this was a bit odd and wrong?  A 7-year old  parading around dressed inappropriately?  And we wonder about our lost morality and values…  And we wonder why there are so many young girls in Hollywood messed up to the hilts.   We promote it with garbage like this.

So I found out that Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is a show on TLC featuring toddler, Alana Thompson and her family.   Apparently, the family gained famed after being on Kids & Tiaras, another exploitation show.  (Oops, did I say exploitation? I meant beauty show).  In its first season, it was one of TLC’s most watched shows.  So there’s definitely an audience out there for that sort of thing.  We both know what they are called, it’s illegal in some states.

In case you didn’t know, HBB’s mom give her Go Go Juice so she could be alert for her engagements.  Don’t be alarmed, it’s only a mixture of red bull and mountain dew, the equivalent of two cups of coffee.  Nothing a precocious 7-year old can’t handle.

Now I don’t know about you, but this makes me furious.  I know it’s not my kid but seriously?  Have you seen pics of this girl and her family?  Worst yet, have you seen pics of this girl?  Suggestively posing in skin-revealing clothing that some, even you, might find cute but I don’t and I can’t.  How far is this exploitation of children going to go?  I know we are in an economic downturn and people are doing anything for money to take care of themselves and their families.  Fame and fortune at any cost is the order of the day.  But please, not the children.  Let them be children.

You know you should quit when your kid tells you they hate being in the spotlight and hate it when fans approach them.   End it now before it becomes  “There Goes Honey Boo Boo”

 

Hey, if this sort of thing turns your crank and you are a fan of this show, don’t let me rain on your parade, knock yourself out as they say cuz it’s just MY TAKE.

Braving the heights to save $$

The Happy Painter

Two months ago when we moved into our brand new house, Amie gushed, “Wow! I am happy with everything.  I don’t have to change anything for a long time.”  In my mind I thought, “Yeah right.  We will be painting by next Christmas.”  I was wrong. So very wrong.  We were painting  two months later.  Reason? The house was in one basic but very nice looking color.  We couldn’t have that, some rooms or walls had to be re-painted.

Now this blog is not about my wife’s penchant for changing things that are perfect, at least to me.  I am cool with it and usually just get dragged along anyways, just like I was on Saturday morning.

A few weeks ago, I came home to Amie repainting our en suite bathroom.  No, nothing was wrong with the original color.  Then Friday evening, she started painting the main wall of the living room.  We have very high ceilings so she called around for a painter to finish the top part of the wall.

Now, I am terrified of heights.  I don’t take well to not being on solid ground.  I don’t do ladders or trees.  (I have actually attempted to climb trees a couple of times only to get stuck when I realized how far up I was).  Amie doesn’t do ladders.  She doesn’t mind heights but she minds ladders.  Hence her decision to call in the pros.

I looked at what had to be done and seriously, I couldn’t rationalize paying anyone to paint an area that would take maybe twenty minutes or less.  Throughout the night, I played different options and scenarios over and over in my head. and by the morning, I had an idea what I was going to do.

I waited until Amie left to take Mikhail to his dance appointment then I went to get a ladder from the neighbor.  On the way out, I found an old extension ladder in the garage that I decided could very well do the trick.  I brought it inside and propped it against the wall.  It looked just about right.  After breathing a prayer, I dipped the brush in the paint and started up the ladder…

High above the floor, I immediately got so into my work, I quickly forgot about my fear of heights.   I concentrated on not getting any paint on the adjoining walls or ceiling.  Amie would flip if I did and my daredevil task would be for nothing.  With a steady hand, I was able to make a close-to-perfect line between wall and ceiling.  I was proud and that also helped to ease my fear of being off the ground.

Amie came home when I was on the last corner.  She paled when she saw me.  “Hurry up and come down! I can’t watch this!” She was still impressed that I had fashioned a clothes hanger to make a hook that held the paint can on the ladder so I didn’t have to climb up and down.

I later told her to give me the money that she saved on hiring a painter but she countered that it was our money and it was not saved but would be used for something else, like basement reno.  She has a point there.

 

A Thank You Letter To The National Hockey League

Original NHL logo, used until 2005. A version ...

Dear NHL,

It’s me, Carlos.  You should know me by now since I’ve been a faithful follower of yours for some time now.  I even bought season tickets so I can actually go to games.  My wife thinks I am addicted but I think she’s just jealous.  She said when I am watching games, I ignore her and everyone else including the kids.  If you still don’t know who I am, that’s fine.

The reason I’m writing to you is I want to say thank you for giving me a much-needed break by being in a lockout.  I am now realizing that there is more to life than the NHL.  It has only been a month but man, did I ever need this.  You see, we have just built a new house and you know how that goes, you spend the rest of your life turning it into a home. Renovations to the hilt.  Finish the basement, build a deck, landscape the yard…  There’s no way I would have gotten anything done while trying to keep up with the games.  I have finished framing the basement (You should see my stick handling skills with a 2×2 or a 2×4) and started wiring last night.  No one knew that I even had it in me. HA! I’ll show them.

With the extra time I now have, I am also thinking of taking some skating lessons with my boys, instead of watching a bunch of overpaid guys skate.  (Sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.  You guys deserve more than the 50/50 split the owners are offering).  Instead of Hockey Nights In Canada, it’s now Family Night At The Walcotts.   Sounds more productive, you must admit.  Before bedtime, my boys and I watch the show ‘Wipeout’ instead of hockey.  I am finding things around the house that I never even knew I had.  Books I haven’t read, tools I haven’t used, a son…

Hey, remember how my blood pressure used to spike while watching close games with bad calls?  Especially those going into overtime?  Well so far, my blood pressure has been near perfect.  No stress over power plays and bias referees.  I have my own goals now and they do not involve hockey.

This has to be the best thing you could have ever done for me.  (Well other than giving me a chance to see Ovie).  I am like a new man with a new lease on life! I can really get used to this.

Hopefully, I’ll see you next year.  Gotta run, got lots on the plate.

Faithfully,

Carlos

P.S  Now if you can top that off by sending  Ovechkin to my house for Christmas, that would be awesome!  He’s not that busy anyways and the boys would be so excited!  I would be too.

 

DeHORNing The BULLies

English: A Bully Free Zone sign - School in Be...

The web is abuzz on  the sad and tragic story of Amanda Todd, the 15-year old girl who took her own life after being cyber bullied.   you can read it here.

I did a lot of thinking after I read this story, trying to find how bullying could have such devastating effect on someone, not just Amanda.  (Apparently,  Amanda’s life fell apart after she was coerced into flashing her breasts online).

Amanda’s online indiscretion came back to haunt her in a way that she could not deal with.  It followed her to school and everywhere and she responded the way the bullies wanted her to.  She was the perfect victim.   Not everyone  has the mental toughness and attitude to deal with something like this.  Some would shrug it off and tell the bullies to shove it or even call their bluff.  You want to show my boobs on Facebook?  Go right ahead, who cares?  Amanda couldn’t and didn’t and it ate her alive.

Back in my day, bullying was not an issue.  The word ‘bully’ was used casually as in, ‘Leave me alone, you big bully!’  No one was ever accused of actually bullying anyone.  I was called rude names and embarrassed in front of classmates, heck, even my teacher joined in sometimes.  By day’s end, it was all forgotten until the next bullying.   I was never depressed because of it even though it was rather belittling to me.  My wife confessed that she too was bullied because of her early chest development.  Boys would snap her bra and joined the girls in  taunting her.  Again, it was a distant memory by day’s end for her also.   That didn’t mean it was right back then.

In school, I can’t think of anyone who wasn’t harassed or bullied in some way.  Unless it came down to a physical confrontation, it was never an issue and no one complained, not even the victim.

After the tragic fact,  many questions could be asked.  Why didn’t Amanda stay off the computer after being bullied online? Why didn’t she complain to the school authorities? The police, her parent?  All moot now in regards to this poor girl.

Why is bullying getting so dangerous? Are people more insensitive or are our kids overly sensitive?  I don’t know, I am just asking.  Teens everywhere are killing themselves far too often because of bullying.    Why wasn’t this happening years ago?  What changed?  Were we tougher?   Granted, the internet wasn’t around so if a girl bared her breasts, it ended up being her word against those who saw.

In my opinion, our changed society is playing a big part in providing bullies with ammunition they never had before.   Kids cannot deal with not fitting in and being accepted.  Looks are everything.  Self esteem is held together by a thread that falls apart at the first snag.  Computers have provided a breeding ground for a new form of bullying.  Cyber bullies are preying on unsupervised kids with unlimited and uncensored access to websites.  Parents are proud of their 8-year old’s ability to surf the net without assistance.

So how do we change this?  How do we unarmed the bullies and nullify their game?  Anti bullying laws may not be enough.  We could start in our homes. One thing I noticed is that most of the victims are silent until their final act shouts out the fact that they were bullied to death.  Maybe we as parents need to make ourselves and our home a safe haven that our kids can come to with their issues.   We could provide a strong support team that is available to them 24/7, this way they do not feel like they are alone as in Amanda’s case.  She should have never felt that she was alone and had no one to turn to.  Sadly, it’s only after their death that we tell the deceased that we were there for them if only they had come to us.  Maybe in life we did not give them reason to think that way?  Teaching kids to be strong mentally, with respect for themselves and each other is also a step in the right direction.  Although we sometimes cannot control how our children turn out, our homes are usually where it all starts.

We may not be able to actually stop bullying  but we could prepare our children and help them to recognize and deal with all forms of bullying.  Bullying is wrong!  No one should feel the way Amanda did.  If you are a bully or have the tendencies, please seek help.  If you are bullied, never think you are alone.

RIP Amanda!  You were loved!

Never Alone

Politricks

English:

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I must admit that I probably do not pay as much attention as I should to politics.  I used to,  but have concluded that all politicians are the same, more or less.  I usually give political debates close to the same attention as I give WWE wrestlers.  That’s my opinion.

During Obama’s campaign that got him in The White House in 2008, I gave in to the hype that surrounded this historic moment.  A black man on the verge of running the most powerful country in the world? Epic.  As a black man, I could not have been any more proud.  I didn’t care about his political credentials, just that history was close to being created.  As a matter of fact, I did point out the fact that the pickings for the biggest office came down to a fairly inexperienced black man and a guy that should have been enjoying his retirement, not running for president.

I like Obama.  I think he is great for black people in making them realize that dreams do come through and everything is possible.  Forget black people, he’s good for everyone   I however, do still believe that very little separates him from say, Mitt Romney.   They both have their weaknesses and their strengths.  Unfortunately,  weaknesses of any kind is generally not tolerated by the masses.  Obama has made empty promises but that is right in line with being a poli-trickcian.   He has also fulfilled some promises.  Nothing new here.

Should Mitt win the Presidency, which I don’t see happening, I am sure that there will be bright spots in his term..  That’s just how it works.  For all the bad things said about G.W Bush, he was re-elected so he couldn’t have been that bad, right?

Whether I like it or not, politics is important to us all.  In Canada, it is important we keep an eye on our neighbors as we are the first to feel the ripple effect.  Even though in my opinion, there’s never much to choose between candidates, we should all vote and play a part in the selection process.  We should also never underestimate the power of the people.  We put them there, we could remove them also, anytime.  Unfortunately, we always forget that and let ruthless leaders run wild indefinitely.

My prediction is Obama will cruise to another victory.

Don’t forget, this is just my take.  What do I know eh?

Grammar School Adventures and Teacher Crush

I once patrolled these hallowed halls

Back in the day, Boys Grammar School, later renamed The St. Vincent Grammar School, was THE school.  It was the school that prestigious people attended.  The Governor, Prime Minister, top doctors and outstanding athletes, you name them, they went there, and to attend the same school as they did was indeed an honor, at least in my books.

My first day of school, I was so caught up in the atmosphere of just being there that I hardly noticed the pain in my head as it succumbed to being slapped by the ‘old boys’ as part of the school’s hazing. “Are you a new boy?” I was asked again and again.  To my ‘yes’ reply, I was tapped upside the head.  (they called it tapping but it felt less like a tap and more like a hard slap).  Once I tried saying no in the hopes that I could fool them into thinking I was not a newbie.  Smack!    “Don’t lie to us!”  I didn’t have to be told twice.  I took my tapping like a man.  A small price to pay to be attending the Boys Grammar School.  (Tapping was banned soon after, so unfortunately, I never had my chance to be a tapper).

My first year was a blur.  I strutted around downtown in my khaki uniform like a soldier on parade.  My skinny legs with knobby knees jutting out of my shorts were nothing to be proud of but I didn’t care.  In a couple of years they would be covered with long pants.  I could wait.

That’s me, third from left

I had to repeat first Form!  Yes I did. I admit, I was a country boy attending the top school and in town to boot!  I was like a kid in a candy store.  I explored downtown, I learned and mastered the pool game, I hung out at the library, for the wrong reasons of course, I followed my hard-assed town friends and stole books from our favorite bookstore. (More on that later).  I knew where all the cool bars and hangouts were.  Ras Ital, then the most prominent Rastaman on the island, was a popular eating place.  We ate Ital food,(Rasta veggie dish), played pool and enjoyed the sweet smell of ganja on our lunch breaks.  Pulsating reggae music and darkened room completed the experience.  So you see, there was just no room for studying.  Oh, the dark room also made it so relaxing that we were late getting back from lunches.

Boys Grammar School as the name suggests, was an all boys’ school.   Other than having English as part of its curriculum, it had nothing to do with Grammar.  I was never sure why the ‘Grammar’ but I think it was an English thing since I’ve seen a lot of schools in England with the ‘Grammar’ in their names. The fact that our school system was based on the English system may confirm this.

Coincidentally, conveniently and ironically, the Girls High School, which is also the sister school to Grammar School, was next to us.  Just a wire fence prevented us from trespassing.  Many an hour was wasted just looking through the fence to catch a glimpse of some uniformed lass walking around the compound.  The girls were not oblivious to our longing stares and most of the time, responded in kind.  We were warned never to trespass or encroach.  Tantalized from a distance.  So close and yet so far…We could almost smell their perfume.

So like I said, I failed my first year and had to stay back while watching my classmates advance.  Well some of them at least.   A few  proved their loyalty by also failing and staying back with me.   Looking on the bright side, I gained some new lifelong friends from the new batch of boys.

I vowed to pull up my socks from then on.  (No pun) I still strutted around downtown and engaged in non-scholastic activities but I also started making time for homework and curricular activities.  (I still hated anything to do with numbers so math homework was out).

By that time, I also had my first crush.  I bet you are thinking that my town-boy-smarter-than-country-boy friends taught me a way to sneak over to the GHS (Girls’ High School) without being caught. No, I had a crush on my English teacher!  She was no ordinary teacher.  She was THE English teacher.  Freshly graduated from GHS herself, where her mom was the headmistress no less.  She came from a well-known and prestigious family.  I was out of her league but at my age, leagues didn’t exist and crushes knew no boundaries.  So me being a poor country boy and all was no deterrent.

My teacher was a fine specimen to my virgin eyes that had no clue what a fine specimen was.   She should have been an art teacher as everything she said was art to me.  I hung on to her every word.   Most kids my age looked forward to weekends, not me.  They were not welcomed as they meant two whole days of not seeing Miss A.  Coincidentally, English was also my favorite subject so I just could not get enough of it.

My obsession manifested itself in my English essays.  I always found a way to incorporate Andrea into my stories, so much so that she called me to her office one day to discuss this.  I was ecstatic! I finally was going to have some alone time with her,  one on one!.  She asked me why I wrote the way I did.  I stood there like a deer in headlights.  I was speechless.  I couldn’t muster a word to save myself.  Yeah, me, the wordy guy who couldn’t shut up if paid to do so, was speechless standing in front of my crush. How embarrassing.  She took me out of my misery by telling me not to worry and explained that it was just a phase and I will be fine.  Then she dismissed me.   Just like that.  Our first time alone and I didn’t take the chance to profess my feelings for her.  I don’t think I ever said bye.

She was right.  After a while, without fuel, my phase did disappear and I was able to lead a normal English teacher-obsession-free life.  I still think she was a fine specimen though.

My proudest moment came when I finally got my chance to be a ‘big boy’.  I was in long pants!  Complete with tie and jacket with school crest on the pocket (Worn on first and last days of school).  If you thought I strutted before, then you should have seen me then. I made sure to get full value out of my new uniform.  I paraded it around town like a wandering street model.   Jacket over my arm, then over the shoulder, buttoned and unbuttoned, I tried every look and style.  At assemblies, I made sure everyone got a glimpse of me as I hollered to the strains of our school song ‘Per aspera ad astra’.   I wish I could have bottled that experience.

Caning was the punishment administered at that time,  cruel and unusual if you ask me.  The head teacher would get you to stand facing backwards against a chair with your backside presenting a nice target to him.  He would then whack your offered rear end with a cane.  We called it ‘twack’ and I got twacked once.  Three strokes for enjoying a stick sweetie, (Lollipop) in class.  A free period to boot!  I hated that class monitor for a long time after that.  The head teacher too for that matter.

We used to be late getting back from lunch as we would go down to the wharf and watched the boats and ships.  Sometimes we sat on the rocks and skipped stones.  One day we were running really late  and as we neared the school we saw the head teacher standing at the door to the office.  He was peering at us in his famous dark glasses.  Without changing expression, he raised his arm and with his index finger, beckoned us.  I told my pals to remove their watches and I quickly turned back the hands of my watch to an earlier time.  He asked, ‘Do you know what time it is?” I replied that I did but apparently my watch must be wrong. I showed him my watch and he let us off with a warning.  Yep, I was a quick thinker back then.

Sports day, which pitted the various houses against each other was a big favorite.  Although my house, Lopey, had a few notables, I felt a bit embarrassed being Lopey.  Miller and Reeves had the cool guys and athletes and I was understandably jealous.  Lopey was the equivalent to GHS’ Grimble house.  At the time, both were underachieving.  I am sorry but I didn’t wear my yellow Lopey ribbon proudly.  Yellow wasn’t and still isn’t a color that strikes fear in anyone.

Oh, about the books we pilfered.  (I know you are probably thinking, “Get to the part where you stole books”).  The boys in my immediate circle of friends were all avid readers.  Comics, Westerns, Crimes, we read them all.  So it was natural that we found a bookstore to cater to our needs and we did.   Being in Wayfarer bookstore was like being in a book buffet.  We never intended to become small time crooks. Actually we never wanted to be any type of crooks, just to go there, buy or browse books, and get out.  But inevitably, we gave in to our impulses.  Well not exactly our impulses.  It was the town boys again who first introduced us to book stealing.  (Those darn Town Boys eh!) We started with small comic books and then they showed us how to smuggle paper backs and hard covers in the confines of  our waistbands.  Some of us daring ones would even smuggle two books at a time! It was like Christmas every day.

Then one day we heard the words that would become etched forever in our memory and become a catchphrase among us.  While engaged in the task of stuffing a book down his pants, a customer who happened to see this act, said to my friend, ‘Put it back!’  He complied without comment.  This should have served as a warning that our time was up but it did not.  We continued our smuggling operation until one day it all came apart.  I was heading back to school with my criminal buddies, excited about our latest haul.  We were blocks away from the bookstore and I was bragging about how easy the operation was when I felt someone grabbed me, turned me around, reached into my pants and withdrew my bounty.  It was an employee from the bookstore.  How rude! Sexual assault?  Harassment?

By the time we got to school all nervous and trembling, the principal had already been alerted to our criminal activities and was waiting for us.   After giving us the speech on the severity of what we did, we were sent home and told not to come back without our parents.   It seemed like everyone on the little island knew about this.  ‘Put it back!’ became a catchphrase.   We were later able to laugh about it and some of us never stole again.

Note:  BoysGrammar School was later changed to St. Vincent Grammar School after girls were accepted in upper form. (Advanced level).

Some of those who carved a niche in my memory:

Andrea Keizer – Of course she’s number one. English teacher

Mr. Campbell – Head teacher and the only person to cane me

Drakes – (steel throat) – Best math teacher in the land. RIP

Moony – Best 100m runner at the time.  (I thought he was the world’s fastest man then).

Mr. Leacock – Accounts teacher who brought his drill sergeant experience into the classroom.

Mr. Cummings – French teacher who seemed to be in his own world. I wonder what he’s up to?

F.I Jack – Very nice history teacher.  Unruffled.

C.P Hall – Geography teacher.  He was temperamental.  Surprised me when he got into Calypso singing.

Neddy – Another French teacher with an attitude.  Always kicked me out of the classroom.  “Walcott! Leave the class!”  Seriously? He’s probably in jail somewhere.

The gang who made it all possible,  Moony (Edmond Jackson), Rickie (Burnett), Cally, Squealer, Elliot (Mystery), Goodluck, Sappy and the other town boys who thought they knew everything.  (Sorry guys if I missed any notables, it’s been a while).

Per Aspera Ad Astra!

The gang

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