The Swimming Pool Card

Big one bullying little ones

by Charlie Morton

My story involves big bad Brother Lloyd.

The class might remember there was a fund raising effort at the school which I think was to raise money for the swimming pool. Everyone was given a numbered card to record donations of (I think sixpence or maybe a shilling) and weekly donations were recorded on the card . Brother Lloyd ran the show and he would initial each contribution received on the card. Each week at Monday morning assembly a card number would be drawn out and the holder of the card would get a prize of, I think, one pound BUT only if weekly donations were up to date.

Our large family were dirt poor principally due to my fathers protracted illness from which intermittent hospitalisation precluded him from keeping a permanent job. Anyhow, somehow, I was able to make the first week’s donation but couldn’t make any more after that. So I made the donation and Brother Lloyd initialled the appropriate section on the card with his initials MAL. ( I can still see those bloody initials in my mind’s eye) Lo and behold, on week 4, my card number came up. I wanted to forget about it but everyone was so keen to see who the winner was (all the card numbers in the class were around the same numbering) I somehow had to front up the card. So I decided to forge Brother Lloyd’s initials for the missing three weeks and took it to him to claim the prize..

He had initialled the first week so I was able to practice his initials as much as I could, which I did in the limited time available before doing the deeds on the card. They were not good. Not good. But I fronted up and handed him the card and he checked the winning number as correct. He then looked at the card. I was probably the youngest and definitely the smallest in our huge class. He was a big man and towered over me in his black dress. There could not have been a more complete contrast.

Then there was complete silence. He just kept looking at the obvious forgeries. Still not a sound.

He then handed me the prize and the card and said “go back to class”. If he had put his boot into me I would have landed at the Gabba on the first bounce but I was prepared to cop it and wouldn’t have blamed him.

Not entirely such a big bad Brother Lloyd after all. Little wonder I have never forgotten it.

About the author, Phil Lancaster

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  1. I remember the swimming pool card well.
    If memory serves me right, it was started when we were in Grade 6 with Br Cusack, and the weekly contribution was 3d (thrippence).
    You must be talking about a much later year if inflation had doubled or even quadrupled it.
    I'm not sure when the swimming pool was built. Around Junior (Year 10) maybe. If anyone knows for sure, please advise.
    And yes, Mick Lloyd in a long black dress would've been a frightening sight to a little kid.
    He was certainly a bully and, like all bullies, knew how to pick his victims, as (the late) Peter Grice could attest. Mick's also no longer with us, as you're probably aware.
    But I've gotta say that in later years, I came to realise he was a conflicted man.
    Trapped in a vocation (teaching) and a lifestyle (celibacy) that didn't suit him at all, he was probably pretty unhappy.
    I was glad for his sake that he left the restrictions of the Christian Brothers behind at the end of our Sub-Senior (Year 11) and married his tuckshop lady paramour.
    And I was sorry he never came to any of our reunions. We might have had some interesting conversations, though possibly some fisticuffs too.

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