No apologies if I’ve told this story before; but it is good to start the year with an open heart and open mind which I certainly needed to one year.
This was a school year and I was starting a new job. My superior was running through the register of ‘my’ form of 16 year olds, jabbing a sharp-nailed index finger at Cormac’s name: ‘Watch him, he’s a nasty piece of work.’
I wished I’d not heard those words but tried to keep an open mind. Cormac turned out to be a bit of a bully, something of a leader, a lunchtime absconder and a smoker. To deal with the last problem first, I kept a tube of extra strong mints in my pocket. He could not smell his after-lunch breath, but if I could others would. The other little difficulties were alleviated a little when he and his fellow smoker were referred to me for a misdemeanour even I could not ignore, so detention slips were duly written and handed out.
After lessons they appeared with strong evidence of their innocence – on this occasion. ‘I could count this against all the times you should have had after school detention but didn’t, or I could just rip them up,’ I said. Actions speak louder than words, except for the next word: Sorry.
I went off sick soon after that. When I struggled back it was Cormac who stood up in form period and said, ‘Sir, you should not be here. Go home.’ He was right. I am ever grateful for the solidarity he showed that day.