Form 3 (year 9) and welcome to the big school, Glanafan Upper, Station Road, Port Talbot-by-Steel-Works. School dinners were in the long dining room. I'm on the bottom end of the table and three of the 5th or 6th form are heads of the table. Hoppy from Baglan's older brother and Nigel Hall (I think) are two, Peter is the other one. Hoppy's brother and Nigel are what we used to call savagers. They'd have large portions of food and you'd have a far smaller version, they savaged your food quota. Theirs was a position of power, we were the oppressed. As a child I wasn't a hungry kid, I was Ravenous, with a capital 'R'. I could easily devour 3 full dinners and then look for desert. On this particular day, the day of the walk, the food quota from the kitchen was low for the table. There were 8 of us in total on the table. I remember looking at the spud serving dish, thinking, not a lot of that is coming my way, I can't remember what the meat was but there wasn't a lot of that either. The vegetable was tinned plum tomatoes and very few of us had the balls to eat that stuff, myself included so I declined the veg. My plate arrived with about 15% of it covered with food and I looked at it and I looked, and I stared., stared more and I thought about it and I decided I was no longer putting up with it. I stood up and headed for the aisle. I had no idea of what I was going to do I just needed to do something. The first obstacle was to get past the servers and into the open space of the aisle. The servers didn't know what was happening they were busy tucking in to generous portions and I made it to the aisle without them even noticing. From there I could see the top end of hall and the teachers table, it was there I needed to be, about 20 yards away. I began the walk. 20 yards to death or glory. Meal held out in front, two hands holding the plate, I was a boy on a mission. I sighted the enemy chief sitting close to the centre of the table. The headmaster himself, Basher, so called because his lower jaw overlapped his upper, he looked like a bulldog, a formidable man, a little shorter than most adults he was more your level which made him even more intimidating. He looked you in the face, his look was a natural scowl. I was 13 years old, 4 foot something, less than 5 stone and waiting for my teenage growth spurt. It was a serious mismatch. I continued the walk, what was I going to say or do, I still had no idea, the walk seemed to take forever, it was like I was in a state of slow motion. By this time there was a general murmur of voices and people had noticed my walk, all were starting to turn and stare, why was this boy on his feet walking to the top table. food in outstretched hands before him? They wanted to know and so did I. I arrived at the front line, a table of about 16 teachers and shoved my plate in front of Basher's nose and asked "What is this, I can't eat this". "What's the matter BOY?" Basher roared. "It's not enough food"........ 

Basher turned away as if it was an every day occurrence and delegated the responsibility of sorting this minor problem to Wally the deputy head. Wally marched me back to my seat, investigated my concerns and the dining room returned to normal. The result of my actions were that I gained the respect of the savagers and achieved slightly larger food portions for the rest of the term. The overriding memory of the incident for me was the loneliness of the walk. I could have turned around at any point, but I didn't.......... 





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