Gert Strydom

Gold Star - 28,377 Points (03 April 1964 / Johannesburg, South Africa)

Gross Stupidity - Poem by Gert Strydom

It was at a time
where you had
to wear a uniform to school,
had to cut your hair
to a predetermined length

and got caned
if you were naughty,
failed a test,
or sometimes
to let the teacher
enforce his will.

If you complained at home
about getting a hiding at school,
you would probably
get another there too
if you deserved it,
but if you were right,
were punished unfairly
or without a real cause

it was seen in a different light
and a teacher
or whoever the punisher was
would have to face
your father in a fight
and could easily
be hit into hospital.

School regulations stipulated
that you couldn’t receive
more than six whippings on a day,
but at Estcourt high school
on my first day
at the new school
in standard nine (now grade eleven)
I received twelve.

We were lining up
to go to the hall
and a prefect told me
to cut my hair
which were just a bit
longer than how
they wanted it.

I said that I would
and while we were walking
to the entrance of the hall
I was told the same thing
over and over again.

On the eighth time
I told the English prefect
in Afrikaans
not to catch the pip
which was a Afrikaans adage
for do not catch a fit.

He told me to repeat
what I had said,
which I did
and thought
that I was cursing him
and took me
to the Headboy
who was English.

Where I had to repeat
myself again
and I did
as believed in telling
the truth.

The head boy took me
to the principal,
(Mister Robert Smith) ,
who thought
that I was saying
something like
go and play
with your member.

He called in the
(another Englishman) ,
a man with a red beard,
who was convinced
that I was cursing,
who shoved my head
under a table
and whipped me six times.

When I explained what it meant
they didn’t believe me
and called in a teacher
who taught Afrikaans
and the principal gave me
another six whippings
for being insubordinate
and wanted to expel me
if I didn’t have my hair cut
on by the next day.

I didn’t tell my stepfather
(who wasn’t a dad to me) ,
but even he
would have sorted
the headmaster
and vice-principal out
and it would have been
the Anglo-Boer war
all over again.

At the time I thought
that I was grossly stupid,
but thinking back
the headmaster and vice-principal
was probably more so.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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