It’s a cold winters day and I’m 7 years old sitting in my class. As I look out of the window with my chin resting on my hand and my elbow resting on the table, I can see the clouds. I am trying to design a picture out of them. As I see the face of a vicious courageous masterful lion in the clouds, I smile to myself and pat myself on the back with a great sense of achievement. I’ve just managed to create a lion in the sky. I always love playing this scintillating game when the need arises. The need usually arises at school during my English class, much to my regret later in life.
Today is a cold as an Eskimo’s house day. I feet the furious cold as I sit in this old Victorian school. You can just imagine what happened in the old days here, when staring out the window would result in a smack with a cane. Sometimes my teacher would remind us that this is what used to happen, and that someone of us could do with a good lashing. Much to our amusement, he is not one to hold back on his draconian opinions. It seems like he is living in the Victorian times himself. He loves to talk about the old days and we love to ignore him.
As I gaze out of the window, a sudden air of excitement rushes through the room, quickly warming the atmosphere. All the children start “ssshhhing” and trying to hold back their excitement. Standing in front of the class is Mr Dante.
Mr Dante is a well-dressed middle-aged man who dresses like his John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever. He has an air of charisma and an aura about him. We call him a teacher, but nobody can recall what class he teaches; that doesn’t matter to us. He’s the golden ticket. Mr Dante often takes kids up to his office, for story time. This is the highlight of the week for the chosen kids.
“Right, I will now pick three boys to come to story time” he proclaims with enthusiasm.
He looks around the room and every little boy has his arm raised. All the boys raise their arms up high as they can; some almost flying away with their hand, me included. This is my chance to get out of class and have some fun.
As Mr Dante points to two other kids, my hand goes further up higher. I’m now almost standing with my legs crossed, like I want to go to the toilet. He scans the room with his finger, and eventually stops at me.
“You’ll do” He remarks.
“Yessss” I yell, to chuckling the amusement of the class.
As we walk toward Mr Dante’s office above the toilets, I can’t but help notice how much brighter the school looks. It seems like everything looks exciting and newer. As we reach the office, it cold and damp outside the office. The door opens and the toasty warm air hits me in the face. As I step into the office, I can feel the heaters are on full blast, making this an ideal place to feel right at home.
As we sat on the floor Mr Dante read us a couple of stories, much to our enthralled excitement and enjoyment.
“Ok that is it for today” he announces, to the ghastly disappointment of the boys.
“Phil stay behind to tidy up.” He demands.
As everyone begrudgingly makes their way back to class, lucky Phil stays behind and helps Mr Dante. We can’t believe how lucky Phil is to stay out of class longer than us. I’m wondering why I never got selected to stay behind. I almost feel offended that I was not good enough to do an important job like tidying.
It’s now been 20 years since that day, and I pick up the local Guardian newspaper, and the headline on the front page reads “School Teacher Arrested on Suspicion of Sexual Abuse of Boys”. It’s followed by a picture of Mr Dante.