Some school teachers exist only to invite piss-taking. Their entire raison d’etre is to take the heat off the other teachers and live as the butt of all jokes for the general well-being of the rest of the staff. They turn up for their interview full of hope and smelly faintly of something awful, and despite being able to string a sentence together, or even see the headmaster through their milk bottle glasses, they are formally welcomed to the science faculty with barely a snigger.
We had Mr Delaney, who appeared to have been cobbled together out of spare parts, several of which were attached to his body entirely at random. His Adam’s Apple was so big, it looked like he’d once yawned during an inopportune moment at a basketball game, and never quite managed to get the thing out. Clothed entirely by Homme at Oxfam. After a fire sale. In 1962.
He is credited with the invention of a device that switches your windscreen wipers on when it rains, which only worked on Morris Minors; and also a special coating on his glasses that turned them into rear-view mirrors, with unfortunate side-effects.
"You may have heard," said Mr Delaney on our first day under his tutelage, "that some of the older pupils have a nickname for me."
Yes. Yes, we had. Cut to the chase you mad old duffer.
"It's 'donkey'," he continued, "because of that song - ha, ha - called 'Delaney's Donkey'. Have you heard it?"
No, we hadn't.
“It’s by Val Doonican.”
Nope, not a clue.
"It is rather funny, you know", he said, only twitching a little bit. "Here, I've got it on reel-to-reel tape."
After several minutes of fighting with a suitacse-sized tape player, which appeared to have him in a head-lock on at least two occasions, he played it to us. He was wrong. It wasn't funny in the slightest.
"Ha ha! This is your one and only chance to call me Donkey."
Wanna bet? “Yes, Mr Delaney, sir.”
"Well, go on, then," he pleaded, with not a little desperation in his voice.
Utterly defeated in his attempts to explain his unwanted nickname to us, he let the issue drop.
We didn’t. We waited. And waited. For at least a week. Four days, maximum.
"Donkey", to his face, for the next four years.
“Yes, Mr Donkey.”
“I’ve forgotten my homework, Mr Donkey.”
“Mr Donkey! Your car’s on fire.”
“Can I go to the toilet Mr Donkey, sir?”
"STOP CALLING ME DONKEY!"
"Sorry sir, but hee haw hee ought to know better. Pfffft!"
He cracked up, sinking to his knees in the physics lab and wept "Why don't they stop? Why?"
Because kids are bastards, that’s why.
Then we started on Dr Savage, Religious Education teacher, man of bronze, and locked in the stock cupboard.