French Trip pt 2 – La Détention

Posted: January 25, 2011 in Back To The Edge, Just A Strip Of A Lad (Telling You The Old, Old Stories You Love To Hear), Schooldays

It’s 1997. I’m 5 foot 3, and in a cold, dark room somewhere in the south of England.



It’s the last full day of our school trip to France. 20 whole minutes of Calais-ian mischief. Now we’re back in our cheap hostel and it is Judgement Day. The day that I receive my punishment for playing with my slinky toy while The Head speaks. It’s a shame it’s not The Head off Art Attack. I’d happily listen to his head-floppiness, but this isn’t CITV, and I’ve spent the entire residential distressed at my detention. This is my first ever detention and possibly the least justly ever given.

What should have been the times has become The Green Mile.

And I’m not alone.

Not even close.

There’s been some fun-times in my dorm. All the best people are in it. Phil, Cobden, Gilbertron and Kieran. Our dorm’s ace.

But for one thing.

Our neighbours! We actually have bad neighbours! By which I mean The Head. Who’s in the dorm next door.

We’re doo-r-med.

There was the classic moment a few nights ago. As night-time dawned, we were all in bed not going to sleep. Obviously we’re not gonna go to sleep! We’re in year 6! We’re 10/11 years old, and everybody in the building has toothpaste!

We’re not allowed to barricade ourselves in so we were keeping watch on the door.

When we heard a knock.

And froze.

Mr Warren walked in.

We thawed. Mr Warren is one of the best teachers. A) He’s musical, B) He met Princess Diana twice, and C) He’s got a hilariously posh voice.

“Evening boys.”

Amazing. It is so the times.

“Why aren’t you going to sleep?”

Love it. We all like Mr Warren, so we’re completely honest.

“We’re scared someone’s gonna come in and put toothpaste all over our faces!”

Mr Warren looks at us with utter bewilderment, like it’s been a good four or five years since he was our age.

“What an awwwwful waste of toooooothpaste!”


So I guess this week hasn’t been all fear and loathing. I should probably explain though why I’m not alone in this detention room. There’s a lot of kids here and it’s not smelling too sweet… Let me explain why I’m not the only kid in this… gas chamber.

The next morning had rolled around and Gilbertron had woke up feeling ill. I could tell he just wanted to get out of going for the morning walk, but he convinced The Head, and stayed in bed all day. So we go on the morning walk and make it back with some free time before lunch. Phil and I head back to the dorm. It’s a nice day outside, and we’ve had a fun morning, so we’re in high spirits.

Phil lets rip.

“I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky.”

Phil could easily get on Stars In Their Eyes. As a hilarious one the producers make fun of. I love his singing, but I’d never get him to sing backing vocals if I recorded an album. Sigh. Alright, fine.

But only on a football song.

Phil’s lilting into the second verse when there is a knock on the door.

A loud knock. We freeze.

The Head storms into the dorm.

Oh no!

He immediately lays into Phil for singing. How dare he? Singing in his own dorm? Had he not noticed poor Gilbertron in bed with what may or may not be a cold? Obviously he is a wretched excuse for an infant with no career prospects and no hope of ever finding love!

“That’s it, Philip! You’re in detention!”

Harsh! I mean, I hate Boyzone but I don’t put them into detention. Though I would if I could. Wouldn’t you?

That’s why Phil’s right here with me. Awaiting fate. The entire year 6 with the exception of two little girls and ‘poor Gilbertron’ is waiting for The Head to come and open up the crocodile tank. Which I presume has crocodiles in it.

I’ve never met a crocodile, but I hear they’re quite rude. I’m not looking forward to this.

We’ve been waiting for a while. Quite a while.

This is getting strange. Even the rubbishy dumb kids have started to notice! We all start looking around for The Head, or any of the teachers.

The search goes on for a few minutes until Kieran’s high pitched voice pierces through.

“There he is!”

I run to the window. The Head’s outside. Having a fag.

I grab my slinky and play with it with both hands while Phil bursts into song as loudly as he can.

Fags are ace.

Complete life savers.


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