And There Was Ninja Moustache (Chapter 4)

St Murray’s Primary School. Oldham, England, 1987.

“Back again, Deenis? Good heavens, most boys try to avoid the principal’s office, but you seem to hang around here like a stray mutt.”

“I don’t mean to, sir. It’s just that I’m having trouble with some of the other boys.”

“Oh, here we go again.”

“Well, all the other boys, in fact.”

“Oh yes?”

“Yes. You see, sir, they’ve been making life rather difficult for me.”

“Deenis, if it seems like all six hundred students at this school are out to get you, perhaps the problem lies not with them, but with you. Have you ever thought of that?”

“No sir, but I—”

“Well there’s the issue right there, lad. You’re so focused on yourself and your imagined problems that you’ve no consideration for others. Take your behaviour in the hall last week for instance—squealing like a stuck pig—you were an awful disruption to the nearby classrooms.”

“Sir, the boys had trapped me in my locker. I was yelling for help.”

“Trapped in your locker? Skipping class, more like it. Anyway, Mr Henley helped you, didn’t he? He managed to find a master key.”

“After three hours.”

“Well we were hardly going pry open a perfectly good locker with a crowbar. That would be damaging school property.”

“I was terrified.”

“Cowardice is nothing to boast of, boy. Now what’s your complaint this time?”

“The boys have given me a nickname, sir.”

“A nickname?”

“Yes sir. It bothers me. I’ve asked them to stop, but they keep using it. They’re using it right now.”

“Is that what that chanting is in the playground? I was wondering about that. Seems to go on non-stop. Every lunchtime this week. You’ve got to admire their commitment.”

“Sir, I’ve tried to be patient with them, but I don’t know how much longer I can—”

“What’s the name?”


“The nickname they’ve given you—my hearing’s not what it used to be, and I can’t quite make it out—what are they shouting?”

“…Deenis Penis, sir.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Deenis Penis!”

“All right, calm down lad… Hmm. Yes. It does rhyme. Makes sense they would go with that.”

“Sir, the name is very hurtful.”

“Oh, Deenis, you are far too soft. Nicknames have been around since I was young—oh yes, I was young once! I had a nickname myself, you know. ‘The Raging Achilles’ my friends used to call me—on account of all the men I killed in the war. Dear oh dear, to be compared with the mighty Greek warrior—how embarrassing! But still, it’s all just banter—men being men and all. You just have to learn to keep a stiff upper lip about it.”

“Sir, surely there is a difference between being likened to legendary Achilles… and being called a penis.”

“You’re missing the point, lad. You need to toughen up. Take things in your stride, don’t let things bother you. Play the man—the other boys will respect you for it. You’ll see. This whole ‘Deenis Penis’ thing will blow over in a few months.”

“Yes sir.”

“Well don’t look so disappointed, boy. I’m trying to help you here.”

“Yes sir. Thank you, sir.”

“Has your eye always twitched like that, Deenis?”

“No sir, it’s a recent thing. It started about the time the older boys stripped me naked, doused me in petrol and chased me around the football pitch with cigarette lighters.”

“Hmm. Could be lockjaw. Get the school nurse to look at it.”

“Yes sir.”



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