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Childhood memories

Being both younger than average, and small for my age, I was a prime target for bullying. There was one group, who just wandered round the playground picking on younger children at random. In one typical incident an older boy came up to me and asked "What does a ship do when it berths? When I looked nonplussed, he yanked out my tie, saying "Ties up", then he stamped on my foot saying "Anchors down". At the time I had bad chilblains, and, rightly or wrongly, I blame this incident for a deformed toenail on my second toe.

The other, more personal, was a nasty little bastard who sat in the desk behind me in one of my early years, and amused himself tormenting me. The desks had storage space under the heavy wooden lids, accessed by lifting the lid, and he would periodically fling his lid up, giving me a nasty blow on the back of the head. Another trick was to get a compass and lace it into his shoe with the point pointing forward. Then, at a random time in the lesson, he would kick me in the backside under the desk.

On one occasion I remember being provoked into a fight with someone -- I have no idea why -- but it was almost certainly a matter of bullying. The fight was to take place when we got off the bus at Mount Dandenong Hotel. I didn't suffer any serious damage, and I didn't think that I had acquitted myself too badly on this occasion.

All this bullying was highly annoying, but it didn't really get to me. I guess that if I could cope with my father, I could cope with almost anything.

The one incident which probably did have long-term consequences was accidental, rather than deliberate. An older boy, who had come from America, was interested in judo and was telling his friends about a particular judo throw, in which you stand opposite your opponent, then you put your knee in their belly, and roll backwards, so that your opponent goes over your head and falls headfirst towards the ground. The opponent is supposed to tuck his head in and roll over, so that both parties end up on their feet again. Just at this moment I had the misfortune to wander past, so he grabbed me to demonstrate, without bothering to tell me the background -- not that I wouldn have been able to do it anyway -- and I was driven headfirst into the clay on the sports ground.

I have always had a bad neck, which causes me quite a lot of bother, and which a chiropractor told me was whiplash injury, and I strongly suspect that this incident was responsible.

 © Roger Riordan 2004-2019

Bullying incidents