Saturday, 24 August 2013

The Red Spelling Book

As most of you have seen, my spelling is fairly bad. Thanks to spell check you have no real idea how bad it actually is. I first realised I had a true problem when I was given a red, "Collins Pocket Spelling Book," going into the Master's class.

Our little school bordered the shores of a lake a couple of miles outside Galway city. We had about forty students spread over three classes making up the whole school. Mrs Feeney had all the smallies, first class to third, were taught by the Master and fourth to sixth classes had Mrs Burke. I hated leaving Mrs Feeney's class, but time tide and the school system waits for no man. The master was old and very cross looking. So far I had found school to be easy and great fun. The only thing Mrs Feeney had ever corrected me on was singing. Prior to a visit by the bishop, we were practicing hymns. The whole room were gathered around her desk singing a Christmas song when Mrs Feeney waved her hands and stopped everyone mid song.
"Squid, why don't you just pretend to sing," she said sweetly.  I had been giving the song great gusto but even today I can't hold a note. God knows what racket I was making. Red faced I did as she said. When the bishop came I stood at the back of the group and acted like a goldfish. Who wants to sing for silly men in dresses anyway!

The spelling book was different. The master told us to open the book on our second day in his class. He asked everyone to spell five different words. I got all mine wrong. His face darkened like thunder but he said nothing, I was terrified. That night we had to memorise the first page in the spelling book. I went over and over the words trying to get the letters to stick together in my head but they just would not stay. They were like butterfly's in my brain, they kept flitting around when I tried to remember them. After a long time I got them to sit still. I though I had it cracked. I asked my dad to quiz me, as soon as he asked the first word all the butterflies took flight again. Spell river he said.  "R.i.v.r," I tried. No matter how much I repeated them the letters wouldn't stick in my head. I dreaded going to school the next day.

I tried telling mom I was sick, but she made me go to school anyway. The test came after first break. I stood at the front of the class. The master called each word out loud and clear. I got seven out of eight WRONG. I stood there feeling terrified and stupid.

"Harold, that's not good enough at all," the master scolded. I scuttled back to my desk, sick to my stomach. The minutes to lunch dragged. I couldn't wait to get outside and away from everyone. The school was a three roomed little thing with pebble dashed walls. It was spring time and a wild squall blew in from the lake. The driving rain nearly flew straight across not down. The others kids were huddled in the "shelter," behind the play area. Still smarting from my humiliation, I went around the front of the school.

I hunkered down behind a low wall. The wind howled, whipping rain in sheets over my head. Down where I sheltered I was warm and dry. The stillness of the air was amazing. I poked my hand above the wall feeling the icy rain sting my chubby fingers. Although I should remember this day for my terrible spelling, the memory that comes back to me most are those magic moments hiding in the lee of the storm. How I was cocooned in my own world. Despite everything I was elated. Now that I am grown I sometimes think of those minutes, mainly when I feel the world crush down on top of me. I wish, I were still small enough to shelter beneath a stubby west of Ireland wall and let the storm rage safely over me.

10 comments:

Lady Butterfly said...

This is touching, funny, and wistful. I must admit, I giggled at Mrs. Feeney telling you to lip sync the Christmas song. Lol! It's amazing how these childhood memories are still so vivid "x" years later. You imagine, describe and write incredible tales and memoirs. You're a gifted writer. Slight spelling mishaps have never taken away or lessened your voice. You've turned what was an embarrassing episode into a positive thing. You've climbed that wall, my dear! Stand on top of it! :)

squid mc finnigan said...

Hi Karie, I can only thank god for spell check. I always spell words the way they sound and I actually nearly lost a job because of it. It is amazing the things that make an impression on you when you young. Thanks so much for the lovely comments I hope I can live up to them. Always yours, Squid

Sandra Tyler said...

I like to think we all have that save place under a wall we can retreat to when needed.

Glendon Perkins said...

Squid, I can't sing either. Well, that's not entirely true. In the car with no one around, I am worthy of a Grammy, regardless of the song, or if I know the words even. Anyway, good story, solid writing.

Glen

squid mc finnigan said...

Cheers Glen, coming from you that means a lot to me. Loved your last short. Gripping stuff.

Sometimes you just have to sing, Take no prisoners and belt out some words or other!!! I'm right behind you in another car.

squid mc finnigan said...

Thanks very much Sandra, I'm glad you liked it. I still love going out in bad weather and getting a bit windswept from time to time. Blows away the cobwebs.

Nikkah Lubanga said...

Nice story. I was good in spelling when I was in grade school but I can never be a good story teller like you. Kudos!

squid mc finnigan said...

I think you are underestimating yourself Nikkah. I just finished Beyond redemption and I loved your ending. You'r every bit a story teller and a good speller to boot. I hope to get to read your first story sometime later today. Looking forward to more of your stories. Squid

Melanie Brierly said...

I am a bad speller also!! ;) cheers Squid.

squid mc finnigan said...

We got to stick together we will change the world one day, us bad spellers are the way forward. Thanks for taking the time to chat to me on G and here. Hope you like the story