An Ordinary Boy

by Hamster

Chapter 2: Colonel Blimp

As Mike walked down the corridors towards the Headmaster's office, he had a strong feeling something bad was going to happen. His fears were not ungrounded. The Headmaster, Colonel Howard Carruthers, was old school, highly conservative, autocratic, quite capable of making arbitrary and conflicting decisions, and skilled at leaving his staff to clear up messes he had made. It was amazing he had lasted so long, but when it came to fundraising and dealing with parents who had enough money to send their sons to Bourne Hall he was actually quite proficient. For that reason, the Board of Governors had never found sufficient reason to get rid of the Colonel, and he had survived as Headmaster for twenty one years.

His staff disliked him, not just because they frequently had to clear up those messes resulting from his quirky decisions, but also because he resisted change. At some point in the past, one of the older members of staff had said to his colleagues that he felt the Headmaster reminded him of Colonel Blimp, a cartoon character of the 1930s and 1940s. The name stuck immediately: not only were the opinions and behaviour of the Headmaster much like those of Colonel Blimp, but he also was very overweight and had a moustache. Regardless of whether or not the Colonel knew of this nickname, everyone in the school, teaching staff, students and support staff referred to him as Colonel Blimp or the Blimp, although never to his face.

Because of his conservatism and resistance to change, the school resembled more a boys' boarding school of the 1950s than one suited to the demands of the 21st century. For example, it was only in the past couple of years that he had relented and allowed pupils to use iPads in their classes, preferring that their work be handwritten in exercise books. He didn't give in easily to innovation, but when an affluent parent gave a grant to the school for the sole purpose of buying iPads and other computer equipment, he couldn't resist any longer.

Similarly, he had resisted having girls being allowed to be admitted. His philosophy was based on the concept of spartan conditions for boys, cold showers, porridge, strict adherence to rules, and severe punishment for transgressors. Were it still legal, he would no doubt enjoy watching boys drop their trousers, turn around and bend over so he could use his cane on their tender buttocks. And he would no doubt have gotten great pleasure in the whole process. There were rumours that he had buggered several boys over the years, but no boys had ever lodged a complaint so no action was ever taken against him.

It was hardly surprising that he hated gay people, and this was what worried Mike the most. Mike was on a temporary appointment at the school because the previous English teacher had to take a leave of absence when he was diagnosed with cancer. Finding a new teacher in the middle of the year for a two term duration was difficult, and when Mike's name was given to him by the Headmaster of Shelburne Academy, he had little option to appoint him despite the fact that Mike was openly gay.

The reason Mike was available was the result of a series of unfortunate events. He had completed his university studies the previous summer but had decided not to look for a job immediately because his grandparents were both very ill. He had lived with his grandparents since he was seven following the death of his own parents in a car accident. They lived in a bungalow on the edge of Shelburne and had taken Mike in and raised him as if he were their own child. During the autumn the health of first his grandmother and then his grandfather began to decline, and Mike had to spend more and more time looking after them as they no longer had much strength.

When it became clear that neither grandparent was going to live that much longer, Mike decided that he would look for teaching jobs locally. He had grown up in Shelburne, he had friends in and around Shelburne, including a group of gay friends who got together at the local pub every Friday evening, and, important to him financially, he would inherit his grandparents bungalow and not have the burden of rent or mortgage.

His preferred school was Shelburne Academy, a sixth form college preparing students to go to university. Teaching younger students had limited appeal to him because he wanted to be with boys and girls who were keen to learn, had matured enough to have their own ideas and opinions, and who would keep him mentally alert. He arranged a meeting with the Headmaster and learned that the school was planning to establish a Creative Writing Workshop in the school, starting the following year. This sounded just like a perfect opportunity, and his enthusiasm led the Headmaster to arrange interviews for him with staff, selected students and, unusually, a few of the Board of Governors. The Board had been very supportive of the new initiative, and had agreed to include funds in the budget for the next year, and so they politely insisted that they were included in the interview process rather than giving the Headmaster complete authority over hiring.

When he was interviewed in November, Mike felt he had made a very positive impression. The staff liked the prospect of having a younger person who had new ideas that they hadn't thought of, while the students thought a person only three or four years older would be great because he would be more empathetic to their lifestyles and culture than an older person. The three Governors who interviewed him were less enthusiastic. The two male Governors felt Mike was too young to be in charge of a new program while the female present was very supportive. She asked a lot of questions about his background and seemed quite enthusiastic that he was gay and would therefore have somewhat different views than more conventional candidates.

There was quite a long delay after the interview, and Mike began to feel he had not been chosen. So it was rather a surprise when the Headmaster called him and offered him the position as long as he recognized that it would not start until the following September. Given his commitment to tending to his grandparents this condition was perfectly acceptable to Mike.

Then Covid struck. Despite their best efforts to avoid contact with other people, both his grandparents contracted the virus, and neither had the strength to fight it. So in the space of two weeks Mike lost both grandparents, and he contracted the virus but survived because he was in good physical shape. Suddenly he faced the prospect of being unemployed for about nine months. He let the Academy know his situation, and the Headmaster said he would see if he knew of any opportunities that would help Mike through this period.

Shortly after New Year Mike got a call from the Headmaster at the Academy. He told Mike that a temporary teaching position had opened up at Bourne Hall, the nearby boys' boarding school. The position was in the Junior School teaching English grammar, and the Headmaster had sent Mike's resume to his counterpart Headmaster at Bourne Hall.

The Colonel found himself between a rock and a hard place. He desperately needed a teacher but with only two days before term started he didn't have time to advertise. He had no viable candidates, and neither did his staff. He thought he could get someone through an agency but this would be expensive and time consuming. So on one hand, the availability of Mike, a qualified English teacher, was a godsend. On the other hand, the fact that Mike was gay was anathema to the Colonel. So it was with great reluctance that he appointed Mike, who started work the very next day.

From the outset, Mike felt the resentment of the Colonel. He felt he was treated as the Colonel's personal dogsbody because he would receive commands to undertake all sorts of menial chores in addition to his regular class load, making his days chaotic and frustrating. Despite the interference from the Colonel, Mike managed to keep on schedule with his classes.

He didn't have much empathy with the boys he taught. He found them dull, largely disinterested in learning, and generally sullen and unresponsive. And they weren't particularly attractive. Most had not reached puberty and looked and behaved as young kids, and while some boys were slightly more mature physically, they hadn't developed into young men of the type that Mike was attracted to. Of course, some of the boys were very cute and Mike probably favoured them over the unkempt and spotty boys, but they were merely eye candy for Mike.

With all these thoughts running through his head, Mike reached the Headmaster's office. His secretary, Miss Hepplethwaite, an older woman in her sixties and always dressed in tweeds, smiled at Mike and waved him straight into the Headmaster's office. Mike realised he had never been in the room before, a clear indication that he was not welcome in the school as far as the Colonel was concerned.

"Ah, Carpenter, thank God you've come. Spot of bother here. No, big problem and you're just the chap to sort it out. Glad you can help. Jolly decent of you. It's about Wilkins, he's one of your pupils, can't go home, parents in Australia or somewhere, supposed to go to an aunt in Exeter for half term, stupid old bat broke her hip, thoughtless of her, isn't it, so he has to stay with you, nobody else available, but you're single, won't be a problem, meet him here at two o'clock, terribly kind of you, old chap, got to rush, taking the wife to Cornwall, mustn't be late for her, bye."

And with that Colonel Blimp stood up and walked out of the office before Mike could say a word. He just stood there with his mouth open. He was completely shell shocked. Eventually Miss Hepplethwaite came into the office.

"Mike, I'm so sorry, I had no idea he was going to do that. I'd have given you a heads up if I'd known. What a horrible man he is. Do you think you can cope? I mean, it's not easy looking after a stranger in your house without notice."

"Thanks, Miss Hepplethwaite, I haven't the slightest idea what I'm going to do. But I suppose I'll have to cope one way or another. He's not the most pleasant boy but

I'll manage. I hope the boy isn't too upset."

"Mike, I'll do this. I'm home all of half-term, I haven't got plans to go anywhere. So if you get stuck or need help, just call me and I'll see what I can do."

"Thanks for the offer. We'll see how it goes, and I'll call if I need help."

With that Mike waked back to his classroom to gather up his things, eat his sandwich, get ready for Convocation, a school tradition that required all boys had to attend before being let loose to get into their parents cars and SUVs and escape Bourne Hall for five days.

Wilkins, Joshua Wilkins. Shit, thought Mike, the boy is almost the last person I'd have chosen if I'd had a choice. The boy's biggest feature was anonymity. He never spoke up in class, he didn't seem to have many friends, his work was at the level of being just acceptable, never creative but just scraping by. He wasn't attractive to look at, with rather unkempt mouse brown hair, clothes that never quite seemed to fit and were never quite clean or very dirty. He rarely smiled so he had a rather glum look most of the time, he'd reached puberty so he had a few fine hairs on his upper lip, he was average height, neither fat nor thin. All in all he was unremarkable, the type of boy you would never pick out of the crowd. Mike thought of him as 'the ordinary boy'.

What the fuck was Mike going to do with a sullen and unresponsive boy for five days. His plans to go clubbing had just gone up in smoke, he couldn't take a thirteen year old into a gay nightclub, so he was stuck at home. Mike suddenly realised he was very, very angry, angrier than he could remember, and at that moment Mike began to sense he needed revenge against Colonel Blimp. With those thoughts in his mind, Mike finished his sandwich, grabbed his backpack, and set off for Convocation.

To everyone's surprise and relief, Colonel Blimp did not attend Convocation. The Deputy Head, Alan Phillips, apologised for Colonel Carruther's absence, saying he had been called away on urgent business (taking his wife to Cornwall, thought Mike, hardly urgent business as far as he was concerned), gave a very short address in contrast to the typically long, wandering, and largely incomprehensible utterings of the Headmaster, everyone sang the school song, and then the doors open and about three hundred boys fled for freedom.

Reluctantly, Mike made his way back to the Headmaster's office and in a couple of minutes Joshua Wilkins shuffled along the corridor with a large gym bag and his backpack.

"Ready?" asked Mike.

The boy just grunted and nodded. 'Great' thought Mike, this is going to be the longest weekend of my life, and he led the way out to the staff car park.

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