• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 03
Image by

A Bucket of Blue Steam

With sidelong wit the teachers would send out
first years in their too-big uniforms to
ask for useless things, the invisible
matter which would raise exaggerated
snorts of laughter from a class full of boys.

Among the favourites were the ‘glass hammers’,
leaving shattered looks in the fever noise
of ridicule and mild abuse, because
everyone knew that there’s no use in a
tool which cannot hack the infliction of
sustained impact to drive a point deep down.

Or the ‘long stand’, the expectant boy who
anticipated some apparatus worthy
of the name, but then just waited before
the truth sank in that he was standing long,
and then frustrated he would leave to whoops
and jibes, and an unsafe group derision.

But the ‘bucket of blue steam’ seemed to all
intents and purposes the likeliest
and most feasible thing to be sent for,
and nervous, edging the hems of trousers
with their hands, boys would innocently fall
for this old trick just the once and then
they became part of the group of cynical,
who’d laugh at youthful gullibility.