The school was at Stamford Hill in Tottenham and we had school dinners provided in a hall near the corner of St. Anne’s Road. The hall would cope with the whole school, at least those brave enough to endure school dinners. In fairness, the food was not too bad and there was always enough to eat.
While we were eating, one of the masters would patrol the lines making sure we behaved in an impeccable manner. One of their duties seemed to be to stop boys taking more food from the canteen than they could eat. They made sure that you ate what was on the plate and that nothing should be left.
One of our dreaded desserts was a concoction of semolina and red jam. This was affectionately known by us boys as “Blood and Sand”.
On the particular day in question, this was served to us. There were eight of us on each table and, having eaten our main course, we all sat down to dispose of the Blood and Sand. Some of the boys could not get through it and they were worried that they might be seen by The Reverend Father Murray S.J. and be forced to eat what was left on their plate. Rescue was at hand. We had a greedy boy on our table, “Bunter”; he offered to eat the leftovers on our table. Soon his plate was swimming with B & S and he then tried to eat it.
He was obviously the last one to be eating on our table and maybe even in the whole hall. The Reverend Father Murray S.J. approached and observed. He looked at the boy’s plate and said “Eat that, boy !”.
He could not possibly have eaten what was left on his plate, having already devoured several plates-full. While The Reverend Father Murray S.J. was not looking, he poured the balance of the pudding into his blazer pockets.
The hall was typical of a small concert hall being some 30 feet wide and about sixty feet long. However the exit hallway was only about eight feet wide and ten feet long. One can only imagine the stampede, of over two hundred boys, to get out once the signal had been given by The Reverend Father Murray S.J.
Bunter, keener than most to get out, was crushed in the middle of the throng and when he exited into the roadway outside, he had Blood and Sand dripping down each side of his trousers emanating from his blazer pockets. Of course he had also left his mark on a number of innocent boys. He disappeared and none of us saw how he cleaned himself up.
Next Chapter: Chapter 19: Mushrooms