An Extract From The Book: Jimmy Spence 8th Of June 1974 By Kelvin Rush.
Mrs Cartwright was still rubbing Jimmy’s hands. ‘Don’t try to get up love,’ she said. ‘You may have concussion. The ambulance will be here soon. They’ll take you to hospital and get you checked out.’ Jimmy looked alarmed, as he nervously squeezed Mrs Cartwright’s hand. ‘I’m ok Mrs Cartwright, I don’t need to go to hospital, honest,’ he pleaded. ‘You’re going to hospital Jimmy, and that’s final!’ said Mr Brown firmly. ‘We need to get you checked out, to make sure your brain’s not been damaged.’
‘What brain would that be sir!?’ shouted Birdie. Mr Brown gave Birdie one of his menacing lingering stares. It was a stare that would have terrified the devil, and Birdie had been on the receiving end of it many times. ‘That’s enough of that Simon Sparrow!’ snarled Mr Brown. ‘Anymore of that lad and you’ll be in detention!’ Birdie was pushing his look, as he smirked at Mr Brown rather smugly. ‘Sorry sir, I was only joking.’
— Mr Brown, who was quite jovial most of the time and popular around school, also had a bit of a temper on him. He may not have looked all that threatening, but looks can be deceiving, and that was certainly true in his case. He was a small unassuming man, with a round frame and a bulging belly. His black brylcreemed hair was parted exactly down the middle, and neatly swept back over his ears. If you got on the wrong side of him, he could change instantly and become very angry and even aggressive.
He had two main weapons in his arsenal, which he used with precision and skill to keep unruly kids, (mainly boys) under control. His first weapon was The Blackboard Eraser. The Blackboard Eraser was a small rectangle block of wood with soft felt on the front, and was used to remove chalk from the blackboard. Mr Brown would sneakily hide the eraser in his jacket pocket or behind his back, and slowly maneuver his way in and out of the desks, until he was standing right behind the unsuspecting kid. He would then hover the eraser over the kid’s head before bringing it down with a guillotine thud.
He would always aim for the crown part of the head, as this was a sensitive area and would inflict the most damage. The kid would scream out in pain, and leap up from the chair like a jack in a box, frantically rubbing a very painful head. All the class thought it was hilarious. Suffice to say, the tearful, naughty kid thought twice before misbehaving again.
Mr Brown’s second weapon was known as The Death Stare. The Death Stare was more of a psychological punishment, but still had the same impact. It was well-known throughout the school, (especially among the gang of naughty kids), and was to be avoided at all costs. It worked like this…..
If someone in his class was misbehaving, Mr Brown would politely ask the culprit to stop. If that didn’t work The Death Stare would be deployed. The idea was to make the kid feel as uncomfortable and nervous as possible. Mr Brown would stare relentlessly at the poor kid, who wasn’t sure how to react. The brave ones tried to outstare him (which never worked), and the weaker ones would either look away, or cover up their red faces with their sweaty hands. Mr Brown’s wolf-like piercing green eyes would lock onto the target like a laser driven missile. His stare was that intense, it could easily penetrate a brick wall at fifty paces. Once the eyes of Mr Brown were fixed firmly onto the eyes of the offending kid, the battle of the stare would begin.
In all honesty, none of the kids stood a chance, as Mr Brown had spent years perfecting his technique. He must have used The Death Stare hundreds if not thousands of times. In the twenty four years he’d been a teacher, he’d only been out-stared on one occasion. The victor was a funny looking kid called Rudolf Ramsbottom. That particular Death Stare lasted for a full ten minutes, and is the longest stare ever witnessed at Redclose Junior School. Mr Brown told Rudolf to remove his glasses so he could clearly see his eyes, to make sure he wasn’t cheating. The class were captivated as the stare began. Mr Brown started off well enough, but by the third minute he was really struggling. Normally, it would have been all over after a minute or so, but he’d never come across a kid like Rudolf Ramsbottom before.
Mr Brown’s strategy was not to blink, so by the fifth minute his eyes were welling up and becoming bloodshot. Rudolf on the other hand didn’t look fazed at all. He just carried on staring….. and staring….. and staring….. He was just like a robot. As the tenth minute approached, Mr Brown’s eyes began to flicker like dodgy light bulbs. Moments later he was finished. The class was in uproar, as kids began screaming, banging fists on the desks, and stamping their feet in celebration. Mr Brown looked like a beaten man as he removed his handkerchief from his jacket pocket and dried his weary eyes. As the bell sounded to end the lesson, Rudolf Ramsbottom was surrounded by his classmates. There was a strange kind of euphoria in the air, as he was lifted high, and escorted from the classroom like an emperor.
What Mr Brown didn’t realise, was that without his glasses, Rudolf Ramsbottom was as blind as a bat and slightly boss-eyed. He couldn’t see further than his nose, so in all honesty he wasn’t really staring at Mr Brown, as he couldn’t even see him, all he saw was a blur. Nevertheless, he was still the victor and enjoyed every minute of his popularity, (while it lasted).
The name Rudolf Ramsbottom was already infamous at Redclose Junior School, after he was involved in a very serious incident. It happened three years ago, and is still talked about to this day. The story would no doubt go down in Redclose folklore for hundreds of years to come. Rudolf Ramsbottom was an unusual looking stick-insect kid. It was obvious to anyone, that if you lived on a council estate with a name like Rudolf Ramsbottom, you were in for a very rough ride. You would certainly get your fair share of teasing, bullying and violence from other kids. But that didn’t deter his mother Mary, who named him after the famous Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev.
She was mesmerized after seeing Nureyev perform on television in 1963. He was dancing the lead role in Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ partnered with Ninel Kurgapkina (the prima ballerina for the Kirov Ballet). They were magnificent together. Mary (like so many other women around the world) instantly fell in love with Nureyev’s striking good looks, his exceptional dancing ability, and the way he glided across the stage like a gazelle. Ninel Kurgapkina was also an incredibly beautiful woman and a graceful and captivating dancer. Mary had loved ballet ever since she was a little girl, after her mum bought her a ballerina outfit for her birthday. At the time there were no local ballet classes, and the nearest one was several miles away.
Unfortunately her parents couldn’t even afford the bus fares, let alone the expensive dance fees. Instead, she practiced relentlessly in front of the mirror in her small bedroom, determined to one day become a professional dancer. She would spend hours perfecting ballet moves like: Passe, Pirouette, Rond de Jambe, Grand Battement, Sous-Sus and Sissonne to name a few. She copied the moves from diagrams in magazines and books, and carefully studied the dancers when they occasionally appeared on television, (mainly on the BBC at Christmas time).
However, as she got older her dreams gradually diminished into thin air. She never did any dancing at school, and there was never enough money to pay for dance classes. Her parents and most of her friends didn’t even like ballet, so the odds were stacked against her right from the start. When her son was born on the 4th of February 1964, she was determined to give him the opportunities that she never had. The son’s father was an unemployed local man, who didn’t want anything to do with Mary or his son, and subsequently moved to Blackpool to get out of the way. Mary was relieved as it wasn’t much of a relationship anyway. He was a heavy drinker and not a very nice person.
She had big hopes for her son and desperately wanted him to be a famous dancer, travelling the world and performing on television. She named him Rudolf hoping he would somehow miraculously inherit the Nureyev gene. She worked long hours at the local sewing factory, while her parents looked after Rudolf. She was earning enough money to send him to dance classes from the age of 4. However, she soon realised it wasn’t going to be the fairytale she’d hoped for. Rudolf didn’t even like dancing, in fact he hated it. He had two left feet and not much in the way of rhythm. He found it difficult to keep in time with the music, let alone learn all the different dance moves.
He couldn’t even keep his role in the school nativity play. He was the back-end of the donkey, but kept tripping over his hooves and falling down, bringing Lucy Stapleton (the front-end of the donkey) with him. His mother was horrified as she sat in the audience, and had to endure all the screams of laughter from the other parents, who thought it was hilarious. Rudolf was replaced in the donkey by a smiling Patrick Jellyman, and sent to the back of the stage to be a shepherd. He couldn’t mess that role up, as all he had to do was stand there and say nothing.
If she thought Rudolf’s good looks would compensate for his lack of dancing ability, she was very much mistaken. He was an ugly kid, there’s no getting away from that fact. He was as blind as a Marabel potato, and had to wear blue tinted national health glasses. He also had two very large bat ears, (inherited from his father). For some reason his mother insisted on having his hair cut over his ears, which made him look even more hideous. By the time he got to year four at Redclose Junior School, he was used to being picked on and bullied by other boys and girls. It was bad enough having a daft name like Rudolf Ramsbottom, without a funny looking face to go with it. Only the teachers, a few genuine friends and his mother called him Rudolf. The other kids had plenty of other names for him: Bat Face, Specky-Four-Eyes, Rudolf Hitler, Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer and many more…..
Rudolf had a torrid time at school, and on one occasion, he was even close to being expelled. It was a Friday dinnertime, and he was in the dining room looking for somewhere to sit. He was walking around with his dinner tray in his hands, searching for a table with an empty chair. As usual the dining room was heaving with hungry kids, and it was always a struggle to find an empty seat, especially if you were right at the back of the dinner queue. On this particular occasion, Rudolf was late getting into the dining room, as someone had thrown a smelly sock at the maths teacher Mrs Terry. She’d kept the whole class behind for an extra ten minutes to find the culprit, who turned out to be the number one suspect Jack Russell. He was always in trouble, and got snitched on by several of his classmates, who were starving and desperate to get to the dining room for dinner. As a punishment, Jack Russell had to eat his dinner in the classroom in front of Mrs Terry, and he also got a week’s detention.
Rudolf eventually found a table with a spare chair. There were four girls sat around the table including Rebecca Hindley (who was a bit of a tearaway to say the least). He put his tray down on the table and sat on the chair. He immediately received a dirty look from Rebecca. He stuck his fork into one of his new potatoes, (Fridays was always new potatoes, beef pie, peas and gravy, with sponge pudding and pink custard for afters). Before the potato even reached his mouth he got a torrent of abuse from Rebecca.
‘Ya not sitting there Specky…..! Go on get lost…..! That ugly face of yours is putting me off mi dinner…..!’ The other three girls were all laughing. Rudolf just sat there frozen to the spot. Rebecca continued…..
‘Are ya deaf or summat Specky!? I said get lost!’ She then stabbed him on the back of his hand with her fork. The prongs sunk right into his skin, leaving four tiny red holes that began to bleed.
The pain was excruciating, but once again Rudolf didn’t move an inch. Rebecca was getting angrier by the second. She knew she would look silly in front of the girls, if Rudolf refused to move. She let rip once again. ‘What av I just said Specky-Four-Eyes!? Shift ya self or does tha want stabbing again!?’
That was it, Rudolf could take no more, he’d had enough. Rebecca had finally pushed him right over the cliff edge, and there was no turning back. He’d suffered years of physical and mental abuse, and now it was payback time. He’d been laughed at, bullied, ridiculed, humiliated, kicked, punched, spat at, and even headbutted on one occasion. All because he looked different from other kids, had a funny name, and was an easy target, as he never fought back. Only this time Rudolf Ramsbottom would be fighting back. All his pent-up anger, frustrations, emotional turmoil, embarrassment, self-loathing, hatred and revenge, were finally about to be released.
He slowly rose to his feet and stood tall and proud, like an army general going into battle. Beams of sunlight crashed against his blue tinted specs, revealing two squinty eyes, (one looking straight ahead, and the other slightly to the right). Blood was now seeping from his hand, making small red pools on the table. Rebecca and the girls sat there all smug, giggling. If they thought he was leaving to find another table, they were in for a big shock. ‘That’s it Specky!’ said Rebecca. ‘Do as ya told! Go on Bat Face! Get lost!!’ That would be the very last time that Rebecca Hindley would speak to Rudolf Ramsbottom.
With blood still dripping from his hand, he picked up the beef pie from his plate, and pushed it with great force into Rebecca Hindley’s smug face. She was instantly knocked off her chair and sent tumbling to the ground. She was in total shock and began screaming hysterically. Rudolf then picked up the bowl of sponge pudding with pink custard, and poured it slowly all over her head. She cried out in desperation and burst into tears, as the scalding custard ran down her face and neck, leaving a trail of unsightly red blotches. She was laid on the floor in a great deal of pain and distress, totally humiliated. The other three girls looked stunned and terrified, as they sprung to their feet in a panic and legged it towards the exit doors.
Then Rudolf completely lost the plot, as he went on the rampage like a mad dog. He began running around the dining room pushing over tables and launching plastic chairs in the air. Some of the chairs crashed against the light shades, sending shattered glass raining down, while others bounced off walls, missing terror-stricken kids by inches. The floor was soon covered in jersey royal new potatoes, beef pie, peas, gravy, sponge pudding, pink custard, water, smashed plates and bowls, glass, knives, forks, spoons, salt and pepper pots, water jugs, and plastic cups. The dining room was in utter chaos, and no one knew quite what to do. Most of the kids scattered like petrified ants, managing to make it to safety. Mrs Beavers was the only teacher in the dining room, along with three dinner ladies. She rushed over to Rudolf and desperately tried to calm him down, but there was very little she could do. She was only a slight woman, and didn’t have the strength or the know-how to tackle an out of control kid. (Especially one that was having some kind of nervous breakdown.)
Rudolf tipped over the last table before leaving the dining room. He ran straight down the corridor, through the main doors, across the playground and out of the gates. He ran all the way home and didn’t stop until he reached his front door. Home was the only place he felt safe. Mr Bradley the headmaster, arranged a meeting for the following Monday. He asked Mary (Rudolf’s mother), to bring Rudolf to school to sort things out. They spent all Monday morning unravelling the whole incident. Mary was angry with the school for allowing her son to be bullied, while the teachers did nothing. Mr Bradley insisted the school had a strict ‘No Bullying’ policy, but he would certainly look into her concerns.
It was established that Rebecca Hindley was partly to blame, for provoking Rudolf in the first place, by calling him names and stabbing him with a fork. She was suspended for three weeks, and told she would be expelled if she got into any more trouble. She was also told not to go anywhere near Rudolf or speak to him. Rudolf was also suspended for three weeks, and made to pay for all the damage in the dining room. It was mainly for new plates, bowls and light shades. His mum paid on his behalf.
That one particular event made Rudolf Ramsbottom notorious at Redclose Junior School, and instantly stopped all the bullying. Kids were terrified to upset him, in case he went mental again. He was one of the most talked about kids in school, and was now respected and feared. No one would dare pick on Rudolf Ramsbottom again.
An Extract From The Book: Jimmy Spence – 8th Of June 1974 By Kelvin Rush.