|Not Concrete Piles|
No, this is not a tale of rampant sodomy in an English boarding school (which is actually quite common, so I've been told).
Firstly I'm Scottish, and would rather die the death of a thousand cuts (quite like Scotland playing football on the International stage) rather than have to actually live in England.
Secondly I attended Hillhead High School in Glasgow. Non-boarding but selective. The only criteria for entry (in the 1960s, when catering for the intellectually elite was still OK) was passing the entry exam and having parents who could afford the £3.10s fees per term, plus buying school books and uniforms.
|The Old School|
It was at Hillhead High School that I first encountered Piles, or Mr. Haemorrhoid as we (very quietly called him) This unfortunately named gentleman had the dubious privilege of being my French teacher. He was supposed to be a good French teacher, but I had the grumpy nose-picking bastard for 5 years, and I never even passed "O" Level French (Standard Grade nowadays).
In a quick aside, I also remember one poor bastard, a kindly giant from the Western Isles (much further West and North than I think Ali X abides) who spoke with a lovely lilting Gaelic sibilancy, (which was a pity, as he was my German teacher, and guttural accents of the Vaterland don't sound right when pronounced with a decided heedrum-hodrum bias, and years later when I tried to use what rusty Deutsch I could recall, to order some beer (the real reason for learning to speak foreign) the native Germans took me for some native rustic idiot from Bavaria.) and who we reduced to a swearing, rage-gibbering alcoholic ogre within 18 months.
|Unfortunately, these drunken Scots look nothing like my alcoholic German teacher. Pretty though.|
I can still remember the last words he said to us, before stamping out to his endless days in the sanitarium; "You little bastards can all go to hell", just because one of our kid couldn't remember the basic German for "I am" (ich bin) . Don't forget that this was after 2 years of attempting to teach us German. The first words we actually learned were ich bin,so I suppose it does explain to a certain extent the poor old Gael's reaction. I still think it was a bit excessive though, and I never did pass my "O" Level German either.
Look, I'm a scientist, not bloody linguist.
|I'm a Scientist|
My Mum always used to lecture me on the dangers of sitting on the toilet, or on cold concrete or stone floors, as both these behaviours would end up with the curse of the piles. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about.
What were piles?
Were they fatal?
Was it catching?
Was it painful?
Nobody would tell me, just that you would get them by sitting on the toilet for too long.
Alas, I was an avid book reader from an early age, and had developed the habit of reading entire novels whilst sitting on the "throne of reflection". The situation got considerably worse when I reached adolescence.and discovered underwear catalogues.
Admittedly they often were carrying strategically positioned Beach Balls, or stood behind curiously opaque badminton or volley ball nets. For some unknown reason, the powers-that-be had ordained that such "natural" and "healthy" images were not corrosive to the nation's ethical core and could be sold to those of mature years. (I still think that the old fascist bastards (The Judges) were strongly influenced by the black and white films originating from Nazi Germany in the 30s, showing ranks of buxom, flaxen haired mädchen throwing beach balls about, combined with the deleterious English boarding school regime of cold showers and buggery)
|German Girls in the 30s, exercising. |
(Please note what looks like The Curmudgeon squeezing in between the last two rows)
Maybe my Mum was right, and sitting on the throne for such extended periods caused the dreaded affliction, but personally, I think the fact that both my Mum, and especially my Dad, had varicose veins and piles, showing a genetic inclination to vascular problems which I probably inherited.
Anyway, in my late teens they struck..It wasn't too bad. The occasional application of the
but no real problem.
Until I was in the Army.
We were half way through a live firing exercise (some real ammunition was used to give a sense of realism) and I was leading my Section up a hill towards our next objective (the occasional bullet snapping overhead)when my Sergeant suddenly grabbed me and flung me to the ground.
My first thought was "Shit, the troops are mutinying"
My second thought was (look I am not responsible for my id or subconscious or unconscious or whatever) "Shit, the ugly bastard fancies me and I'm going to be buggered"
My third thought was rudely interrupted when he shouted at me "For F*ck's sake Sir, you've been shot"
My alternative third though was "Shit, I've been shot"
Closely followed by, "Odd, it doesn't seem to hurt"
Then I saw that my Sergeant was trying to rip off my trousers , and my thoughts instantly regressed to thought the second.
"Your trousers are all covered in blood Sir" he shouted, and I could now see that the grass I was sitting on was becoming saturated with blood.
"Christ" I thought, " I've been shot in the arse."......... My last thought before consciousness departed was "For God's sake, don't use a tourniquet"
Good; may relapse in the far future.
He was right.