In those days at Annamar School, my older brother Petie was a real scamp! If there was devilment, it was he who was at the centre of it. There was a house of the road that doubled as a local shop – there were lots of those in them days!
Anyway they would display the sweets in the sash window, and often leave the window open to attract customers.
Petie stretched his arm in one day from his hidey-place outside the window. He was trying to steal a stick of ‘jib’. You know what ‘jib’ was ? You would probably call it sugar candy today. Anyway didn’t the sash window fall down and Petie, the thief, was trapped there?!
We called them the Ban- ards but we always got names wrong. They might have been Maynards. Anyway they had a good vegetable plot beside the house that came in useful when we were hungry! We would pull a turnip, wipe the mud off it, skin it as best we could and eat it raw. Turnip’s nice raw, did you know that? And carrots of course.
Ban-ard had just about enough of it one day and walked to the school to complain.
‘Ah, no!’ reassured Mr Norris, the Head Teacher. ‘The McKeowns are well-reared!
None of them would do that!’
‘Well-reared?’ he roared. ‘That boy’s a thief – and his father before him no better!’
Of course, we still had to negotiate past Bar-nards to get to school and that’s where he got his revenge. It happened the very next morning. Suddenly he appeared at the gate.
‘On yer knees, the lot of ye!’ he ordered. We looked at one another.
‘On yer knees!!’ he roared.
‘Yer goin’ t’ say the Rosary for yer sins’.
Obediently we dropped to our knees, all five of us.
‘Thou oh Lord will reopen our lips
And our tongues shall announce thy praise.’
We expected the first decade and our knees were in agony by then, what with the small stones on the road. We all started to rise.
‘Get down! Who told ye you could get up?! That’s only the first decade!’
He launched immediately into the second decade of the Rosary. By the time we finished the fifth and he let us go, we knew we were so late for school that we would all get slapped. That was his intention.
We never thought to tell the reason.
There would be little sympathy – indeed a lot of sympathy for old Ban-ard.
Adults were always right in those times!
…. more Sheetrim memories to follow later …..