Where my Legacy Treads
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The protagonist is unhappy with the treatment meted out to him by his alma mater and wants to teach them a lesson. What happens next?
29TH APRIL 1998
If only they knew how much damage they’d inflicted. My alma mater, St Delvards’s Primary School, seven miles down the road from my cottage. The venue of unbridled misery, misfortune, miasma – until 1st July 1988, at which point I gleefully strolled out its doors for the final time.
Headteacher Mrs Mandell and her horrendous cadre of “teachers” still preside over the place, waging war on creativity and perpetually telling their favourite kids how brilliant they are. Each and every “lesson” a deluge of drivel and insanity, with no room made for understanding or kindness, drowning out any dissenting voices with a deafening, desiccated drone.
6TH MAY 1998
As I softly close my hotel room door, ever careful to avoid detection, Ceefax’s local news section alerts me to a “celebration event” at that godforsaken pit. It just so happens that the tenth anniversary of my delightful departure coincides with the 100th year of their execrable existence. Who would have thought it?
Mandell’s demonic influence clearly extends beyond the school grounds; it spreads well into the local area and those unfortunate enough still to reside there. I consume the hotel’s complimentary coffee, fully cognisant of the ace that fate has played me.
13TH MAY 1998
With my fastidious planning notes for the grand mission safely concealed within my trusty Funfax Organiser – itself hidden away inside a drawer – I head for the local skatepark, a place of limitless joy where “yo, bruv” forms the preamble to every conversational gambit and the “winner stays on, loser gets a forfeit” philosophy holds sway.
I sit on a beach in the spring warmth, feigning a twist of my Walkman radio dial whilst actually listening to a conversation of teenage skateboarders regarding how this “celebration” imbroglio will play out. My ears take in some useful information on who may be in attendance, what they might be occupied with and when these festivities are taking place. Hello, hello.
20TH MAY 1998
Taking this mission from the outposts of my imagination to reality requires immense nous and strategy, plenteous courage and artistry. It may seem nebulous and intangible to me now, rather like the beauty of these resplendent hills I am climbing, seen by nobody and thought of by nobody.
I am to them the forgotten nonentity, the enigma who tried to apply imagination where it was not welcome, who drifted into reconditeness and perpetual self-destruct mode. Therefore, I must show them – in the grandest way imaginable – how wrong they were to underestimate me, just as I underestimated their near-infinite capacity to destroy the confidence of infants.
27TH MAY 1998
Shall we take a whistle-stop tour of the enemies, then? Where do I start? Mr Valecue: the twisted sadist who wilfully ignored my cries after I’d been stung by a wasp during his lesson. Doing so in such circumstances does not strike me as adjuvant – or for that matter clement; rather, it was an egregious act of child cruelty, to the point of turpitude.
Then there’s Miss Diskin, whose lessons consisted of anodyne and vacuous clichés stapled together, designed primarily to resect all and any creative thinking from her pupils’ brains. With strong competition, Mrs Mandell takes the gold medal, having expelled me for “vandalising school property” – even after it was proven not to have been my action – as well as refusing to recognise my perfect spelling test record (ten out of ten every week for four years). It truly is enough to turn one’s stomach.
3RD JUNE 1998
Yes Mr Paperclip Man, I am indeed writing a letter. A letter of complaint. To Mrs Mandell. Four parts reasonable, one part vitriolic. In the spirit of negotiation, perhaps she and they can be reasoned with.
What Tony Blair managed to achieve in Northern Ireland at Easter has given me hope. Hope that they might just see my angle. Let’s give them a chance to come back at me.
10TH JUNE 1998
As César Sampaio heads in World Cup 98’s opening goal, I stare at the mound of letters on the cabinet with an acute sense of disappointment. No reply.
Either they have yet to read my missive, or – the more likely state of affairs – they have and are retreating into the comforting certainties of tradition by non-engagement with someone whose credo is at odds with theirs. Well, they had their chance. Not taken. Game over.
17TH JUNE 1998
Those limpid lines of demarcation between me and those who damage will soon be inapplicable, thanks to my fool proof formula: high-test hydrogen peroxide, with manganese oxide as the catalyst. Those two faithful friends should initiate a catalytic explosion and ignite a fire, tearing through large chunks of the Delvard premises, obliterating classrooms, damaging computer equipment beyond repair and with a bit of luck, rendering all or most of my old teachers dead/insentient.
I am fully prepared to sacrifice my own life in the process; a life effectively over in any case. At least I shall die wearing my lucky trainers, safe in the knowledge that St Delvard’s will likely never recover from such a cataclysmic event.
24TH JUNE 1998
This is a script destiny could never have written. On the eve of the tenth anniversary of my exit, here I am again – with the whole place to myself. How could they have foreseen my ability to find out what the four-digit code was for the back entrance? Then again, they always did underestimate what I was capable of.
Bang! That splendid sound resonates across this clear summer night, the stars and moon powerless to stop me cutting off the voltage to the entire school premises. One-nil to me! As I set up camp in the underground storage base, I reflect upon the fact that tomorrow’s special guests will be denied the excitement of Tim Henman’s Wimbledon quarter-final, not to mention the opportunity to view CCTV footage of the unannounced main event.
1ST JULY 1998
In the words of a song that’s out at the moment, “I’m going deeper underground...there’s too much panic in this town”. Having studied the layout of St Delvard’s in infinitesimal detail, I am confident that detonating my material here will inflict maximum damage upon this institution of damagers.
The scent of the past is suddenly everywhere, as the past invades the present. Stealthily peering out the back window, I can see Valecue and Mandell – two-thirds of the toxic ternion – on the lawn, gleefully oblivious they are soon to be consigned to the past. Now is the moment; there aren’t many more…
EPILOGUE: As the emergency services were clearing the detritus and beginning to identify the numerous casualties from the carnage, the local media reported that several former pupils were to be honoured at a surprise awards ceremony in the main hall – including the individual who never got a spelling wrong.