Hello. You will all be glad to hear that the happiness of last week has not subsided, but also, I'm sure, equally glad that it's not going to stop me delving into the pit of misery that was my childhood. Yes, let's this train back on track.
I would be a horrible biographer; far too easily distracted you see. A few posts back I recounted the tale of my run ins with scruff. I told of my first meeting with him, and I told of our most memorable encounters. The thing I didn't make properly clear, was that there was a couple of years between those two points. Problem is, when next I discussed school, I stuck with the latter period, and gave you the story of Mr.V. All well and good, you might think, except that that leaves a pretty hefty gap in the timeline, and at least one major (or minor, if you're anyone else, but it'll stay with me forever) incident. Yes, the time my crippling shyness joined forces with my defective body, to embarrass me in front of my entire class. Oh joy.
To fully explain this little tale, we don't just need to rewind a year, to the incident in question, but much further back, to the days of the The Hallowed Flat. It was while we were living in The Hallowed Flat, that my parents had decided my wetting of the bed had become problematical. I was too old for such things, they said, and it had to stop. Sadly, their usual methods of physical violence and ritual humiliation ("YOUR SISTER DOESN'T WET THE BED! SHE'S YOUNGER THAN YOU! THE BABY WETS THE BED, DO YOU LIKE BEING LIKE THE BABY? IS THAT WHAT YOU ARE? ARE YOU A BABY? ARE YOU? WELL? Do you want cornflakes or weetabix?") failed to bear fruit and eventually the decision was made to take me to the Doctor.
Turns out I had a weak bladder; it wasn't developing as quickly as it should. It's a common thing, by all accounts, and not permanent. Eventually, it would 'toughen up' as it were, but in the meantime I'd just have to live with it.
Although to be fair, it did mean I got to wear the Electric Shock Buzzer Of Doom, so that was cool. The ESBOD, which is not, I hasten to add, the name the Doctor gave it, was a device that clipped to your pyjamas, and had a sensor that went into your underwear. If you started to wet yourself, it would detect it and an alarm would go off. Hopefully you would then wake up and be able to control yourself long enough to get to the toilet. You'd still need to go more than other people, but at least you weren't going in your bed. I feared that device like no-ones business. Irrational, maybe, but you see all those safety videos at school, and learn the whole electricity/water connection, and then attach something like that to your nethers? Frightening shit for a little kid.
Anyway, yes, I had a weak bladder. For the most part it was only really a problem when I slept; if I was conscious I was usually able to hold it until I got to the toilet. Usually. Sometimes though, the urge would be too sudden, or the distance too great, or some other factor would get in the way, and I'd pee my pants in public. This went on for years; the public incidents until I was about 10, the bed wetting until into my teens. Bad times.
And it's the last of those public incidents that prompts today's entry. I was in the class below Mr V's and the teacher; let's call him Mr R (because his name started with R, so, you know, it makes sense); was doing a bit of a roundup of the days events, as was his wont before he let us go home; what we had learned about, who had done particularly well at what, or what he wanted us to be thinking about at home; which rarely, if ever, included Turtles with ninja skills or muscle bound men waving a sword around while screaming about being in possession of large amounts of power; to my mind showing a disturbing lack of understanding of his audience. He was droning on and on and suddenly I could feel the familiar, desperate urge to go. This wasn't one of the slow builds; this was full on from minute one. I knew there was no chance I could hold it for long.
So I did the sensible thing, right? I put up my hand and requested permission to go to the toilet. Right? Er, no. That would be too simply. Instead, I allowed the crippling shyness that prevented me from doing anything, and I mean anything, to draw attention to myself, to take hold. Were this the middle of a lesson, and I could have gone to his desk and quietly whispered that I needed the toilet, I would have done that. To interrupt him while he was talking and say it in front of the whole class? Unthinkable.
Now, here's the thing; parents were arriving*, so I knew that he would have to be wrapping things up soon. I hadn't had a public 'accident' in a long while and I was adamant that I could hold it. I crossed my legs and I squeezed and I tried very hard to keep all of my concentration on the job at hand...
"Paul, could you come and hand out these homework sheets for me please?"
I looked around me nervously. People were looking at me. I didn't want to draw attention to myself by not doing what I was told, but at the same time... I stood up, I took a single step toward MR R. The floodgates opened. There was nothing I could do; I felt it happen and I just stopped, dead in my tracks, looked down, and watched as the biggest wet patch you've ever seen engulfed the crotch (and crotch adjacent) areas of my trousers.
I heard some strangled gasps from other members of my class but I think everyone was too shocked to react beyond that, although one of the mothers gave out a muffled "Bloody Hell, he's pissed himself." Mr R. just stared at me with this haunted look on his face; either he just really hated the sight of pee, or he was having flashbacks to a horrible childhood experience of his own, hitherto suppressed in the pits of his sub-conscious. Probably that one, yeah.
For my part I just kept quiet until I was sure the flow had fully exhausted itself and then I looked Mr R. square in the face and said, as calmly as possible in the circumstances...
"Sir." "I'm wet."
So there you have it. The tale of my very last public (accidental) urination incident. Although it very nearly wasn't. The following year, during a period of illness for Mr V (which we of course attributed to his rampant alcoholism) we had a lovely young substitute teacher. A lovely young substitute teacher with a heart of pure malice, that is. I requested permission to go to the toilet and she refused. I asked again and she refused again. She gave me a very stern lecture about how I was old enough now to wait until break time to go to the toilet. I wasn't a little baby, after all.
I returned to my desk (still not having mastered the art of asking from my seat, where others might hear me) and proceeded to mist up around the old eye muscles. I knew it was going to happen again. It was inevitable. And I knew I'd have weeks, if not months of torment and ridicule to look forward to if it did. Tears were forthcoming, I knew it. Then I heard a voice... "Miss, why can't Paul go to the toilet?" "Yeah Miss, you have to let him go." "He's got a weak bladder Miss, you have to let him go, it's not fair Miss, he'll pee himself."
Yes, my friends were fighting my cause for me. Admittedly they were fighting my cause with an argument I could have used myself if I wasn't a quivering coward who didn't dare speak back to a person of authority, but still... The teacher backed down, I was allowed to go for a wee, and the day was saved by the best friends a boy could ever have. Although personally, I think they just didn't want me to piss myself anywhere near them.
*Our school allowed parents to come into the school and pick you up straight from your class in Winter, to stop them having to wait in the cold. As someone who regularly collects a child from school, this is a policy I would heartily endorse the return of. I'm sure the security issues could be handled, right?