31 Dec

When I got back to work after the UK’s double Christmas Bank Holiday all the talk was of a lady in the Supply Department .

I think she is in her fifties (but as she’s unlikely ever to read this it doesn’t REALLY matter if she hasn’t quite got there yet) and indulges what is normally thought to be a passion of teenage girls – she keeps a horse!

And on Tuesday 28th December she was involved in an equestrian–related accident.

Whether she fell off said animal or was kicked by it is still not yet clear but the news came through to us on Wednesday that she was in surgery “having her kneecap put back together”!


Just the thought of that makes my own kneecaps ache a bit, especially knowing how many nerve fibres of all sorts bunch up behind that protective cover!

That, of course is why the IRA and other gangsters used “kneecapping” (by either gunshot or deftly wielded lump hammer ) as the most painful possible form of punishment for those who transgressed their unwritten code.

The whole episode reminded me (as do so many things these days) of events in my far-off youth.

In 1966 I joined, at the insistence of the brother of my sister’s best friend, the 3rd Ipswich Boys Brigade . As he made it sound a lot of fun  I agreed to try it and was slightly surprised to find that not only were 75% of the members from my school but two of them  were even in my class – something they had never mentioned. So that made three of us who had something to not shout about at school.

Of the remainder there were a few who being aged 17 or 18 were still eligible for Boys Brigade membership but had finished with school completely. And in that group was a guy called Ian who had also had kneecap problems (so now you know the connection that set off this train of thought) .

Ian’s difficulties were the result of a motorcycle accident in which he had tried to make a banked turn too quickly on slightly icy roads . His back wheel had gone out from under him and speed plus weight of bike had resulted in his right kneecap being pulverised on the road, beyond any hope of repair.

I don’t know if he ever got any form of prosthetic kneecap fitted but at the time I knew him he simply had to very tightly bandage the joint to prevent his leg bending the wrong way!

Despite that slight handicap, however, that bloke was the best goalkeeper our company football team ever had! The rest of us in the team had been thrown in at the deep end when a lot of older members had left the year before with the result that we were mainly playing against teams averaging 4 or 5 years older than us and victories (and even draws) were seldom experienced!

We were, however, saved from some of the more humiliating scores  (that we inflicted ourselves when the situation was reversed 4 years later) by our very own Gordon Banks showing incredible agility between the goalposts!

I have no doubt that Ian was on prescribed painkillers but he also used cigarettes for short term relief and it was always a little odd to see him walking to his goal with his “keeper’s kit”: gloves, spare bandage, 20 Players No.6 and lighter! When we left the pitch there would always be a sprinkling of “dog-ends” along both goal lines.

As is often the case the person who plays in goal for an organisation’s football team also ends up being Wicketkeeper in the equivalent Cricket team and the 3rd Ipswich BB was no exception – Ian fetched up in that position too.

He was not able to adopt the traditional squatting pose that the role traditionally requires but not being all that tall anyway, this was not a problem for him and his agility at taking catches behind the stumps was also amazing!

Unfortunately, he also found it necessary to smoke large numbers of cigarettes while keeping wicket and while the football games were played on public  parks, our home cricket matches were played on weekday evenings during May, June and July on the main pitch of  my alma mater, Copleston School! 

I have related elsewhere in this column how Jack Adams the head of the P.E. department loved his cricket pitch a LOT more than he liked any of us and I suppose we should have anticipated what happened next.

At the end of School Assembly on the morning after one of our matches “Batman” the Headmaster read out an announcement:

“Will any boys who are members of the 3rd Ipswich Boys Brigade please remain behind after assembly. Mr Adams wants to speak to them”.

So we waited. About 20 of us – some from years ahead of me and others from behind but only about 7 or 8 who had been in any way involved in the cricket match. Jack Adams wasn’t interested in that piece of information though! We were all tarred with the same brush as he ranted on about his disgust at finding cigarette ends all around the wicket–keeping areas of the pitch. And without listening to ANY attempted explanations he marched us all out onto the playing field there and then  and made us form a cordon to “sweep” the whole area within the boundary ropes and pick up any fag ends found.

Only when that was done did he let us return to our lessons and explain to the teachers why we were late!

Ian of course laughed uproariously when we told him about it – but after that we made damn sure he took his stubs away with him!

And in case he didn’t already know it, that explains the story behind that particular assembly announcement to my friend Vincent –  ex-classmate and reader of this blog.


1 Comment

Posted by on December 31, 2010 in Schooldays


One response to “Kneecapped!

  1. Cy Quick

    January 3, 2011 at 2:32 am

    A teacher always shows that he is unfit for purpose when he will not listen calmly to explanations. Ian was a remarkable character. It is astonishing what people will do for a game.


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