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#7690 - 04/21/03 11:55 PM Schoolboy hero.
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
In the colour magazines in this weeks Sunday Times there's an article about one of my childhood heroes, a boy called J.C.T.Jennings.

Jennings was of an era when Britain was just beginning to come alive after long effects of the war. The 1950's and 60's saw the rationing and damage becoming part of history and a brighter mood amongst the population. A baby boom came along and in 1953 I was part of it.
Jennings was probably older than me by about 10 or 12 years, it's hard to tell as his creator, the author Anthony Buckeridge, made him eternally 11 years old whatever adventure he was in.
The adventures were all based at the fictional Linbury Court Boarding School, a place of endless jolly fun, sticky cakes and hot chocolate. The school had teachers that were both fearsome and kind and whatever mischief Jennings and his friends got up to it all ended in smiles.

As a boy I learned to read very quickly and grew up loving books, I still do, and the whole series of Jennings books were eagerly read by the time I was about 10.
Boarding school looked like fun to me, a place of adventure and camaraderie. Something that appealed to me as I lived in a remote place with no other kids about, so I imagined the midnight feasts in the dormitory and wondered if I might one day do the same thing.

At the age of 11 off I went to boarding school, along with my best friend Mick as well, so we could really become just like Jennings and his best friend Derbyshire.
I remember watching my parents blue Austin car disappear up the long drive and trying not to cry. Jennings gave me inspiration and strength though and I toughed it out. In front of the older boys anyway.

For the first few weeks it was all new and strangely exciting, so being homesick wasn't a big problem - we barely had time to think about our families anyway. There was so much to do, new boys to choose as friends, sports to try, clubs to join - our time was barely our own. I remember I was beginning to enjoy myself, but things soon changed.

Within the first few months I was abused by older boys and eventually beaten and raped into submission by them. From then on the adventure became a nightmare as the headmaster called me a liar for speaking the truth and a teacher joined in the abuse.
This was nothing like the books; this was more like the movie Deliverance where the anticipation and the early part of the adventure gradually descend into a terror that has no end in sight.
There were no midnight feasts, the older boys stole our sweets and the food was barely edible. Canings were severe and frequent. We cleaned the older boys rugby boots and did all their jobs for them as well, but that was ‘traditional’, it was what had happened for generations before in places like Eton, so it was just considered 'character building' and allowed to go on even though this crummy school was never in the same league as Eton. But the headmaster had ideas above his station.

The atmosphere was one of despondency amongst the younger boys and our original class of 40 boys dwindled to about 15 at the end of 5 years. Try as I might I cannot remember happy times there, and that's a terrible thing.
I was not alone in being abused, that I know for certain. And I have suspicions about many of the teachers there as well.
Sadly I also know a few boys who committed suicide during or after their time there, Mick being one of them.

Anthony Buckeridge and his schoolboy hero Jennings inspired me to do something at an early age, they sparked within me something that made me want to do something for myself. And I pestered my parents to send me to a boarding school, which they did, although they could barely afford it.
Jennings made me laugh and I became enthralled with his adventures, and it doesn't matter if my 'adventures' were different.
Jennings sparked my imagination and I saw a world outside my remote country home and I decided that I wanted to be in that world.
Unfortunately I had the spark knocked out of me and I'm only just getting it back.

But I'm not blaming Jennings for what happened, it wasn't any more his fault than mine, he's still a hero.


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

#7691 - 04/22/03 12:23 AM Re: Schoolboy hero.
outis Offline

Registered: 02/27/03
Posts: 2261
Loc: Maryland USA

That sounds like a great boyhood hero to have. It's good that you're still able to appreciate what's good and decent about it, too, rather than letting the ugliness at school ruin something else that was good.

Unfortunately I had the spark knocked out of me and I'm only just getting it back.
Getting our sparks back is why we're here.



"Telemachos, your guest is no discredit to you. I wasted no time in stringing the bow, and I did not miss the mark. My strength is yet unbroken…"—The Odyssey, translated by W.H.D. Rouse

#7692 - 04/22/03 12:32 AM Re: Schoolboy hero.
Sick Puppy Offline

Registered: 03/30/03
Posts: 300
Loc: Nowhere Land
Oh... that is very sad to me, that you were just an innocent child who wanted to have fun at a boarding school like your hero... but instead you got abused there. \:\( I am sorry for that... but I am glad that you can still see the fun and goodness in those books. It's nice to have heroes. \:\)

And one day we will die
And our ashes will fly
From the aeroplane over the sea
But for now we are young
Let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see

Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

#7693 - 04/22/03 04:35 AM Re: Schoolboy hero.
Sleepy Offline

Registered: 10/08/02
Posts: 288
Loc: Arizona, USA
Despite the nature of your story you were still able to put it in poetic terms. It sounds like Jennings still gives your imagination a spark. And that's pretty cool.
Take care,

"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end."
--Ursula K. Le Guin

"Mental health is a commitment to reality at all times."
--M. Scott Peck

#7694 - 04/22/03 03:02 PM Re: Schoolboy hero.
Wuamei Offline

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...

My heart breaks for you as a child in that boarding school that held such hopes & dreams for you, and for you as an adult as you bravely & capably thru the pain put back together the pieces
of your shattered dreams & form a real life for yourself, with your wonderful wife.

It sounds as tho you may have gone to boarding school to leave a somewhat secluded or lonely home environment?

Mine was a wide-open, big-town to big-city upbringing, still secluded & definitely lonely in many ways, but certainly with much exposure to the world out there, which we were right in really

My SA ended when I was put into a home for
orphans & broken home children at age 12, my last
overt SA having occured at age 11, driving me into
rebellion & trouble.

To my confused feelings & thots at the time, being
put in the home was the nightmare, not being taken out of my abusive family home.

And I wasn't even sexually abused there! Some physical, verbal & emotional abuse, yes, but nothing like I had suffered with my mother.

Still it was in the children's home that I seemed to lose what heroes & hopes I'd once had, as unrealistic & even unhealthy as they sometimes were.

My childhood heroes were mostly comic book superheroes & my hope was to become one of them,
beat up all my known enemies & unknown demons, and
be a hero to the world.

I pretty much gave up after I was put in the home, actually after the rape at age 11 that led to being put there. I tried to retain the superheroes & the hopes that went with them, even tried to pick up new heroes like football players & wrestlers, but nothing stuck. I'da been happy just to fly away & disappear.

Yet here I am, years later, almost as old as you are, Dave ;\) ; and here we in wolf country
surviving & sometimes even thriving. Bro, it makes
me wanna...


May we never lose our heroes & hopes. There are plenty of them right here!


"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

#7695 - 04/22/03 03:12 PM Re: Schoolboy hero.
Sleepy Offline

Registered: 10/08/02
Posts: 288
Loc: Arizona, USA
One final thought, I think you've found your Eton right here. The camaraderie can't be beat! And the personal growth is wonderful.

"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end."
--Ursula K. Le Guin

"Mental health is a commitment to reality at all times."
--M. Scott Peck


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