Being the Rebel By John Walker

When the children stood up for themselves or tested the boundaries.

Chris behind the bushes

Lulu, threats of being sent to Hamilton Lodge

Lulu, the rebel

Transcript for 'Chris behind the bushes':

CW - In most winters, we would  stay indoors most of the time. We weren't really allowed to go out, we were told to stay downstairs in the common room. We would either play cards, listen to records, watch the TV or do a bit of drawing. There were not very many activities [in the winter months].

But when we were older, we were allowed to go out for walks. We were free to sign out and walk to other places like Brighton [which is 3 miles from the school], but we had to be of a certain age to do that.

At my time, when I was boarding, I was too young to be allowed out and we were pretty much trapped in the school. But in the Summer and Spring, there was more to do outside.

There was a copse outside, a circle of bushes and trees, and there was a lot of 'hiding' going on there. We would find the odd peck there, it was very innocent. But the problem was that the Head Master's office was directly opposite the copse and he could see everything that was going on from his window.

So, the next morning in assembly, the Head Master said, "I want to see Christopher Wyer, this boy, that boy, .. in my office, please." And we were on our way to the Head Master's office for telling off.

We learnt to be a tad bit wiser next time and hide a little better, where the Head Master can't see!

Transcript for 'Lulu, threats of being sent to Hamilton Lodge':

KB - You were allowed to sign a bit at the play time..

LF - Not really.

KB - I am talking about St Thomas.

LF - Yes, I was allowed.

KB - Were you NEVER allowed to sign at Ovingdean?

LF - I would get told off for signing at Ovingdean. I remember one occasion when four of us walked to a fallen log on the grounds. We were just nattering away, as we always did, using a school sign. The Head Master walked towards us but we didn't pay him much attention and carried on giggling away. We never thought we were using sign language but we weren't using the correct grammar of sign language; we were just mouthing supported by some pointing and signs.

When the Head Master reached us, he said, "if you carry on signing, you will have to go to Hamilton Lodge school." Do you know the school? It is the other deaf school in Brighton. We were reticent to say anything more for fear of being moved out. 

We would often share the same bus with children from Hamilton Lodge to get home for the weekend. Both schools were on the bus and we were sworn enemies. We looked down on their signing and put on the fact we were oral. It was the attitude we had when we were 14 or 15 years old. We were 'better off' being oral, while they were more 'common' for signing. The attitudes we had were awful. 

We gave in to his demands and reluctantly spoke to the teachers and continued signing in hiding. Ovingdean was more strict about signing, compared to St Thomas, which was rather weak.

Transcript for 'Lulu, the rebel':

LF - It was the Head Master's decision that [as a punishment] that in every class, during the period of two weeks, the teacher would make comments about my behaviour in class. There was a report for every class I went to: maths, English, geography, drama. The teacher would put down a note, which eventually went to Deputy Head to see if I have been a good girl.

KB - Keeping a check on you!

LF - Because of that we became so much closer, to an extent that I became her favourite pupil. We found that we had a lot in common: we were both the only child in our families. She had empathy with my situation at home. If I had a problem at home, I would share it with her and she would help me to talk it through.

KB - It is nice that you could.

LF - After that period of being on report, I started to have a respect for her and I tried not to be naughty in her class, which is different from what I did to the other teachers. When the teacher asked me to leave the class and stand outside, I kept refusing to go because I didn't want my favourite teacher to catch me again standing outside in the corridor. I begged and begged to stay in the class, until I was firmly told to leave the class. So, I stood outside praying that the Deputy Head wouldn't see me in the corridor, and I was so relieved when she didn't.

I was a rebel, and it all boiled down to the problems of communication and my frustration with the oral methods.

This page was added on 26/09/2012.

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