The Inspection

Scene: The sub-senior (year 11) classroom, winter 1960.

The class awaits the arrival of Brother Mick Lloyd for a Maths A session.

We are situated on the upper level of the old edifice, and directly opposite the stairs, whence he will come. As usual, the classroom window facing the stairs is placed in an appropriate position by us, thus affording by reflection, a warning of his imminent arrival.

(Digression: whilst we think the delicate angle placement of this window is a clever and esoteric endeavour, one day Principal Brother Bernie Crawford, who also teaches us, comments by way of aside, “Just appreciate that such a window can be used two ways!”.  This is not part of a physics lesson, but has a desired effect.)     

Enter Brother Lloyd. Before we have a chance to consult text books, he announces what was in effect a “lightning inspection”.

This involves his ensuring that all items of school uniform are labelled or inscribed with the students’ name, apparently a long standing rule which most present have forgotten, or dared to disregard.

(Bernie O’Sullivan remarks to those around him that his undies do not have his name on them but are marked! Much muffled response. {I hasten to add that this school rule does not extend to underwear.{) 

At any rate, we are lined up against the wall, with suits coats on, and initially the students do well, with, surprisingly, a minimum of transgressions identified. Brother Lloyd gets to Terry Quinn, and the Revered Brother, as a matter of course, is interested in Terry’s suit coat.

In respect of his coat being labelled or inscribed, Terry produces and displays from his suit coat his tram pass. (This a document bestowed on students over 14 years of age who are allowed to travel on Brisbane City Council transport at children’s rates.)

There is not the slightest pause. “That’s no good, Quinny! What if you do not have that?”

“Well, I would have to pay full fare.”

A silence, whilst all await what must be the most deleterious of rebukes available. However, by an act of God or whatever, Michael Vallely who is next in line to Terry, well, involuntarily but audibly sniggers.

The whole attention now turns to Michael, with Brother Lloyd interpreting what he hears for what it is. A brief but vigorous interrogation follows with Michael claiming he has a “nervous condition” manifesting itself in such occurrences.

Surprisingly, Brother Lloyd takes no action, though his body language conveys he does not believe Michael. The inspection parade continues down the line, with, again   surprisingly, no reference to Terry. 

 There is little time left for maths.

Aftermath: nobody recalls Michael V. suffering this affliction again. Maybe this incident cures him.