No doubt there will be many readers who will say that this is milquetoast stuff, and will happily supply reminiscences of “Thrasher” so-and-so, who used to lay about him with a golf-club, jokari bat, crow-bar etc; and no doubt there will be some who say that six of the best never did anyone any harm, made them what they are, etc etc.
My point is not to take issue with them, but simply to show what a yawning gulf has opened between the world then and the world now. There was one truly marmalade-dropping story in yesterday’s paper, and it concerned the poor special needs teacher in Cardiff.
We see her depicted in the defeated pose that newspapers reserve for anyone who is supposed to have been caught out doing something truly inexcusable. She is head down, clutching her handbag and her shopping, keys out, and clearly ambushed by the photographers camped on her doorstep. Her crime? She briefly applied masking tape to the mouth of an 11-year-old special needs child, Ben Deacy, who was talking so much that he was disrupting the class. The mother has complained, the school headmaster has denounced her, and the incident is being “investigated” by the education authorities.
Does anybody agree with me that the reaction to this affair is utterly hysterical? As the cowardly headmaster himself testified: “The tape wasn’t put the long way over his mouth. It was a small piece, going from the top to the bottom lip, and it wasn’t blocking his breathing.” It sounds to me like a joke; indeed, the matter only came to the mother’s attention because Annie Sturrock mentioned it in her report on the kid. “Excellent work – once I taped his mouth up!” she said.
Shouldn’t the headmaster, and the education authority, have defended their teacher, and made clear to the mother the spirit in which the action was intended?
UPDATE – Teacher who taped boy’s mouth avoids prosecution: Following an eight-week police investigation, the CPS has decided that there was insufficient evidence and that it would not be in the public interest to proceed against Annie Sturrock.