BOYS FROM THE SCRAP HEAP
Submitted by Andrew McCourt
Location: Sydney, Australia
Date: 6th December 2002
This will be my last post to the website. We can't make this the Pugh
& McCourt 60s show can we? Since first discovering this KNBS
service, I have had the great pleasure of catching up with a few old
mates and exploring further what went on (or wrong) with the old KNGS
in the 60s.
History should always be read in perspective with the times.
McMillan's 'winds of change' were blowing hard in the 60s. Bob Dylan's
'winds' were equally powerful.
Unions fought both employers and governments and
vice-versa. The Cold War gave us the Cuban missile crisis and near
oblivion. WWII bomb sites (and air raid shelters!) were finally being
rebuilt but many still stood as a stark reminder of the 39-45 madness,
and the bankrupt state of Britain after it fought off the agressors,
to its great cost. Amidst this, young Britons had to gain some kind of
an education. One phrase that is burned into my mind from KNGS, and
was repeated to many a recalcitrant boy was "You're headed for
the scrap heap boy!" Aged 11 or 12, I imagined there was a
physical scrap heap where failed KNGS pupils were deposited, probably
somewhere the other side of Fort Dunlop! To my contemporaries, tutors,
alma mater and the system, but most of all the Scrap Heap Boys, I
dedicate the following poem: Kindest regards, Andrew.
THE BOYS FROM THE SCRAP HEAP
Beyond the outskirts of the city,
Where the crow alone is heard
And the seething mist clings groundward until noon;
The corpses on the Scrap Heap
Some still twitching, some unstirred
Welcome another mate, as he is thrown
Onto that bloody gory Dachau -pile
Of fester puss and sinew,
The boys who'd never make it, so they said;
Their education futile,
No point for them continue,
These foolish youths are better left for dead.
"The Scrap Heap's where you're heading boy,"
The science teacher yells,
The twelve-year mind is wondering "why so cruel?"
"Why send me to the Scrap Heap,
When I've only just begun
To learn of love and life whilst here at school,"
Where things are strange and eerie-like,
With division, class and favour,
Some boys are told they'll make it and succeed;
Whilst Scrap Heap boys are urchins,
Scallywags and tyke,
No finer things of life shall e'er they savour.
Some head directly to the Scrap Heap,
On the outskirts of the city,
Whilst for others it can take them quite a while;
With disbelief and effort,
They succour to God's pity,
And strive hard to succeed whilst in denial
Of the banshees and the demons
That haunt them through their life,
And were grafted to their psyches long ago
By the venom an the vitriol,
That cuts through like a knife,
From the mentors thus entrusted to bestow.
But there's movement on the Scrap Heap
And a hand it reaches out,
A-clutching at the mist which is his lever,
A bloodied Scrap Heap boy emerges
And wanders all about,
And more mates join amidst this fever
Of behaviour quite unusual
And hardly quite the norm,
"A Scrap Heap boy you are and there should stay!"
But the clutching hand grows fist-like
And the badge is rent and torn;
A dismemberéd eagle all a-splay.
On the outskirts of a consciousness,
Where the silence rants and screeches,
While the children of a Scrap Heap boy do play;
A controlléd melancholy,
Into the aether reaches
And wonders of the men who in their day
Raised the spectre of the Scrap Heap,
Where boys they could be tossed,
Without mercy there to rot and to decay;
Teaching failing in its duty,
Wasted minds and lost,
No kind and guiding light to show the way.
The architects of the Scrap Heap
Were themselves so cruelly formed,
From a Scrap Heap of their own in distant time,
But they blindly failed to witness,
That changing times were born
And the Scrap Heap was a myth or just a mime
Of a falsely held belief,
That should have faded long ago,
For the Scrap Heap men were tardy to evolve;
They upheld a great lie,
And storms they reap and sow
But Scrap Heap boys go on to live and fight. and solve.