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Picture this: there is a ... well, a box.
Not just any box mind you, but a big box. A box on the scale of a building, but not a big building.
No, this box is just a medium-sized building, but listen here.
This small box is divided by a wall.
Now you may think the box would be split down the middle, but no. Two thirds of the way down, they decided they wanted two rooms out of the already medium-sized box.
In one, they filled it with your standard things: heaters, air conditioners, good Wi-Fi and comfy chairs, as well as the wall being lined with windows.
These standard things, compared to the contents of that small room, were luxury.
And in the middle of that small room with no air-con and barely enough room to move, in the staunching heat of summer, were 14 or more screaming, yelling year 7 pupils.
As I mentioned, there was no air-con and only one window at the very back of the room.
So as soon as Miss threw it open to escape the heat and noise, we launched at her, as one (our finest act of teamwork year round).
It wasn’t directed at her though. She was just in the way.
No, what we really wanted was freedom — freedom from that horrendous heat.
I still remember today,
the battles that took place
by that window, boy and girl alike.
For if you controlled that window, you controlled the class.
Now, if you did try to put your head down, do some work, nothing happened, for the ink from your pen had all but dried and the sweat from your forehead would hit the page and sizzle, making the page smoulder.
The smell was as terrible as you think, more even.
The smell of sweat drenched socks and shirts, filling the air with their sour stench.
The smell of paper slowly burning in the heat. The smell of Nigel’s slightly-off bacon and egg pie recooking in his bag.
To say we all made it out of this class was a miracle, but compared to the winters, the summer was bliss.
Did I mention, no heaters?
Not a single one, in all of the room.
The winter did not creep up on us. No. It struck with brutal swiftness, one day in the warmth, and next into the frosty grounds of winter.
Have you heard the term ‘‘out of the frying pan, into the fire’’?
I think that aptly describes our predicament.
The room itself is an incarnation of Niflheimr — the Norse realm of ice and winter.
For it was indeed icy. No water was allowed, for if it would spill, it would freeze instantly, creating a deadly surface to walk, nay, slide over, causing you to fall and high five the nearest desk corner with your face.
If you didn’t die from over-zealous American traditions, you were sure to kick the bucket from frostbite.
If I bring up terrible enough memories (of which there are many), I can see young Ally, her eyelashes all but fallen off!
A terrible day I must say, but even worse was Napalm Davis (yes, the man, myth and legend himself) holding up one of his long luscious blue legs above his head, clubbing everyone who came near.
We had grown mad trying to survive the winter — Ally attempting to glue her eyelashes to her forehead, Napalm with a pile of unconscious children before him. All hell had broken loose; it was the coldest winter ever to be experienced.
No-one worked, for if you tried to write you ran the risk of losing a finger or two, and the other class had locked us out of their room, trying to protect themselves from our insanity.
Nearing the end of winter, we were about to storm the beaches as they say, and try taking the rest of P block for ourselves, only to be saved by The Messiah.
A holy man who glowed true and strong, a man who struck fear in the heart of winter.
This man, this prophet, installed a heater into the room, something unthought of, but something that saved us in our weakest moment.
In the days we call The Golden Age, Napalm found a prosthetic limb and Ally remembered where eyelashes were supposed to go. (She had arranged them on to her knees by this time).
We thrived for a long time, and then, at the end of the year, summer came round again ...