Friday, June 03, 2016

The headmistress of my infants school in Wickford wore her hair erect in buns, bun upon bun and depending from a scaffold of outrage commensurate to Victorian vestiges. In my mind, they seemed to build whenever she was made angry, and I would make my family laugh with my impersonation of her, saying "bundle, bundle, bundle" whilst putting one fist atop another over my head. Each "b" would be pronounced more explosively as I planted my fists higher and higher in an act that resembled some kind of drawing straws sortition. 

As a five-year-old in the year of the Queen's silver jubilee, I made Mrs Goodman angry a lot. I was sent to her office frequently, once for strangling myself during playtime until I went crimson. She had been given an account of the incident by a playground monitor, but Mrs Goodman told me that I must demonstrate to her exactly what happened, and without hesitation I put my hands either side of my neck, so that my elbows pointed at her as she sat at her desk, a picture of the Queen behind her head, and I held my breath. After watching me for several seconds, my elbows wavering with accusing zeal in the vicinity of the monarch, that dutiful subject, Mrs Goodman, cried out a shrill "Stop". Top knot atop top knot, she wrested my shoes from my feet and made me stand in just my socks on a copy of the Daily Mail outside her office, a bizarre punishment, which she often used, presumably designed to humiliate and degrade.