Academic Writing

Memoir 1: Andrew Bamford was a Pain in my Arse—Sorry Andrew.

This week’s scholarly writing task was based on:

lorna_crozierCrozier, L. (2009). Common birds of Canada. In Lorna Crozier, Small beneath the sky: A prairie memoir, pp. 5–16. Nanoose Bay, BC: Greystone Books

Think about a memory of schooling (as Crozier did) and write a page about your memory of that event. Again, aim to be specific in your detail and description. Think about the point you want to make about the event and have everything work towards that understanding (without telling us directly).

The second part of this assignment asks you to think of a time when you made a choice between two things in a learning context (it could be the same time as above or a different event). Do not write about what you did, but imagine what would have happened if you had made the other choice. Write a short fictional description of that event told from the third person.

The second part of this assignment can be found here:

Memoir 2: Have You Seen My Notes?…-seen-my-notes/


Memoir 1:  Andrew Bamford was a Pain in my Arse—Sorry Andrew.

Andrew Bamford was one of those kids that nobody likes. Well I say nobody, but that wasn’t strictly true. He was very popular with all of the girls, especially the smart girls in grade 11; the girls that I wanted to be popular with, the ones that could talk about something other than make-up and clothes. I suppose he was also popular with the performing arts crowd, the kids who sang, danced and did all the scenery and backstage stuff for the school performances. At the time all of this ruckus began, he was singing and dancing his way through St. Clement Danes School’s 1982 Christmas production of Oliver. He was the lead as usual. Big smile, mop of blonde hair, blue eyes, perfect sense of rhythm, and a singing voice that made me sound like… well, sound like a clumsy twelve-year-old whose voice was breaking, and probably couldn’t hit a note in time if somebody held it still for him. But he wasn’t popular with anybody else… only that wasn’t true either. He was funny, he could make people laugh, so I’ve probably got to admit he was quite well liked by everybody that met him really. Bugger. He wasn’t popular with me. Bloody Andrew Bamford!

It was him being funny that started all of this, this sitting outside the headmaster’s office, waiting, nervously waiting. It was the bloody waiting that really got to you. What was it going to be like? Everybody that had been sitting where I was, absolutely loved to tell you what it was like; and that made the waiting worse, the anticipation of the pain that would be visited upon you by an old man in academic robes and a mortarboard, wielding an inch thick wooden paddle with smooth holes drilled through it. They said you could hear the wind whistle through the holes as it came at you. Bloody Andrew Bamford, it was all his fault. I know he said something that day, he swears he didn’t, but I know he did. Just as I was walking through the cloisters, heading to rugby practice. He couldn’t play rugby could he? That was something he couldn’t do, and he couldn’t do karate either, though none of that matters now. I know he said something, because all of the girls laughed. She laughed, Sara Harrington had been absolutely howling. And I just got so mad. I know he said something. Then it was all over so quickly. I’d just got my brown belt that week—he didn’t stand a chance—there he was on the floor, curled up in a ball and holding his ribs, face puffy red with tears, and she was kneeling over him and saying something about what a bastard I was. I wasn’t! I wasn’t a bastard, it was him. His fault. Andrew Bamford. But with her anger it began to sink in, slowly, the heat of mortified embarrassment washing over my face and body, as uncomfortable sweat formed between my shoulder blades. It really wasn’t Andrew Bamford that nobody liked, and I’d just made it unfathomably worse. I didn’t go to rugby practice that night, because I just knew what would happen; some teacher with his arm round Andrew Bamford’s shoulder, and all the girls, including her, following in their wake and shouting, “That’s him! He’s the one!”

So I went home, better to face it the next day, only I didn’t face it; I bunked off instead, played truant. Rather than go to school, I went to the dojo and trained all day. I was working for my black belt now, and the Japanese guys that ran the place didn’t care if I was twelve and not at school, because when I was there I swept up, I kept the place clean, I paid for and earned my keep all at the same time. But I couldn’t hide there forever. That was Friday, so I didn’t get to face anything for a couple more days, though when I did, it was—quite literally—a pain in the arse. That pain faded quickly, and didn’t bother me nearly as much as the looks on people’s faces. Yes you could hear the wind whistle through the holes in the paddle, but I can’t remember that with the crystal clarity that I can words like bully and bastard; probably because I know I earned them. If I hadn’t liked myself much before all of that, I really didn’t afterward. I’d like to say that I made the effort to redeem myself, that Andrew and I ended up friends, but life isn’t a children’s TV program, although I did redeem myself enough to make it to Sara Harrington’s birthday party, about which, no more should be said. The destruction of the antique children’s rocking chair, and the motorcycle in the tropical fish pond really were not my fault; I was trying to stop it all from happening. I’m sorry Sara’s mum and dad, I still can’t afford to pay for the fish. Sara and I have not kept in touch since our school days.

Since then I have detested bullies, and as a teacher I have learned many strategies to approach them; psychology and patient discussion, motivated by my own suppressed guilt are usually employed, but that doesn’t mean that my knuckles don’t itch sometimes. What it does mean I hope, is that although Andrew Bamford may have been a pain in my arse, I was a lot worse to him and without knowing it, he taught me how not to be a complete bastard. I know it’s very late in being said, but I am truly sorry Andrew.

One thought on “Memoir 1: Andrew Bamford was a Pain in my Arse—Sorry Andrew.

  1. Pingback: Memoir 2: Have You Seen My Notes? | Talk Curriculum

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