John McCullagh January 9, 2004
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It was that picture of the infamous Brother Doc brought this incident to my mind.  It seems difficult to believe that such a cruel man could be so na


There is not an ex-CBS Grammar pupil of the late fifties or early sixties who did not fear the Doc’s class worse than the fires of hell itself.  It was an age before parental intervention at grammar school level would even be contemplated, so grossly over-severe corporal punishment went unrecorded.     Doc topped the list.  Pupils returning for the autumn term of the new school year would fearfully await their timetable; if they had the Doc for Latin, Religion or whatever, their worst nightmares were realized and they trembled from morning to night in anticipation of his next class.  He was known to have landed a number of teenage boys in Daisy Hill Casualty Department, so badly had he treated them.  He was said to have rammed one boy’s head clean through a blackboard.

He never bothered to learn the names of all the pupils in all his classes and I learned to survive by shrinking into myself and never, ever making eye contact with him.  This too had to be done subtly. If he suspected you were insulting him so, or cowering before him, you would receive redoubled persecution for the rest of your school career.  So you half-hid behind the lad seated in front of you, and should his glance stray in your direction, carefully studied whatever was written on the blackboard as though straining hard to understand its meaning.  That counted as a menial or compliant enough attitude with him.  He picked on any pupil who stood out, for any reason.  The especially tall were commanded to ‘hand me down a star’; the especially studious, mild or shy were scorned as ‘cissies’.

He took a keen interest in GAA and learned the names of any lad good enough to make the school team.  This talent usually saved him from the Doc’s excesses.  Not always.  When the Doc scanned the class to identify his next victim, if he knew no one else by name, then a footballer would do.  In our class it was Kevin McGeogh.  The practice ceased when Gerry Brown complained that his best players were resigning from school representation because of their treatment by the Doc.  He’d arrive in class afterwards and attempt to bribe the previous victim with chocolates or candy – and a cheesy smile.  Maybe he was stupid as well as cruel.

Doc never gave us an ‘easy’ class or strayed from strict adherence to the syllabus.  So when he came in that day with a grave expression but a chummy attitude, we knew his news must be far out of the ordinary.  It was.

‘Your immortal souls are in grave danger!’ he began ominously, before warming to this theme and expanding on it endlessly. 

Eventually he came to the point.  The local cinema, bowing to the lax morals of a changing time, was soon to show a film that openly and endlessly displayed a young, attractive woman’s bare breasts.

It is impossible to relate to you the facial expressions on the stupefied class of thirty fascinated and frustrated teenage boys.  Any expression of interest, much less lewdness, and particularly of amusement, was sure to return the schoolmaster to his normal vicious self. 

Sixty eyes tried to convey disinterested acceptance of his timely warning. 

The scene was repeated ten times throughout the school that day.

I’ve never been a keen cinema-goer and could name you no more than ten films of all time.  I’ll never forget the name of that one!  It was, ‘Lana: the Jungle Goddess’. 

If that sobriquet is earned simply from displaying the best-ever-seen pair of mammary glands, then goddess she surely was!  She might even have been pretty, I can’t remember.  I may not even have diverted my eyes upward for the whole two hours.

She didn’t have to act in the part, simply find reason to forever face the cameraman full-on.  Two hours of that!  We were in heaven.

The Frontier Cinema were delighted to have to retain the film for a whole week, instead of the usual three days: then again for a second week. 

This was unheard of popularity.  Homeworks were left undone as the Abbey boys begged, borrowed or stole the entrance money. 

Not just the Doc, but all the other Brothers became increasingly irate. 

The coup-de-grace came on the second Friday night.  Perhaps fearing he’d miss it altogether if he waited any longer, the Rev Doc, in his clerical garb but wearing a large hat – perhaps as disguise – strode resolutely along the queuing line of his own pupils.  To the last man they glanced quickly away lest they be chosen as the immoral victim. 

But Doc’s eyes were focused straight ahead.  With a deft tip of the hat to the girl at the ticket booth, he strode straight into the cinema and, significantly laying his hat on his lap he took a seat in the back row.

He later explained to his disbelieving pupils that he had to be fully aware of the horrendous nature of Hollywood’s immoral output. He was on a fact-finding mission.

But many boys lost their faith on that evening. 

And it was not Lana’s fault.

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