My name is Radge, and I went to Belvedere College.
OK that wasn't so hard, I've been messing with that confession for quite some time now. I went into it at 12-years-old hoping for 'Dead Poets Society.' What I got was 'Renards - The Early Years.'
Those years were marked out thusly:
1st year - One Grammar Loyola
2nd year - Three Syntax Loyola
3rd year - Two Syntax Loyola
4th year - One Syntax Loyola
5th year - Poetry Loyola
6th year - Rhetoric Loyola.
We were hard, we Loyolans. Barry Donlon once lit a match in class, and another time we arranged all the desks back to front before the sub walked in. Hard fucking out.
I remember the accents around me at thirteen and the sheer fucking annoyance of it. Lads from Killiney affecting their toughest Darndale brogue, only for their soft 't's to give them away.
I wasn't unpopular but I wasn't popular either. In moments of weakness I'd sidle up to the cool kids and laugh in all the wrong places before being told to fock awf, but for the most part I was happy thinking of the outside, with an equally perplexed group of three.
I hated the teachers who were all about the school and nothing else. I respected those that clearly came in to pay the bills and would leg it out the school gates at 3.30 to drink or be with their families. "Extra-curricular activities? Fuck you on about?" DZZZZNNNNG. "I'm out of here."
There were bright spots. I hold two of my classmates close even if I only see them once a year or thereabouts, and it bred in me a healthy hatred of rugby that serves me to this day.
And there was Paul Bermingham, our Latin teacher, an inspiring and terrifying man. No more chilling a phrase than 'take out a page from an ordinary-sized copy' have I heard uttered since. It meant test time, and time for me to fuck up my nouns from my verbs.
"Annus, Anne, Annum..." fuck fuck "...Anni, Anno, Anno?"
"Very good, 'Radge,' but you learned that three years ago. GIVE ME A FUCKING GERUND BEFORE I GO FUCKING POSTAL."
Shite sir, I'm all out.
"See me after class."
In my second year parent-teacher meeting I was described as a 'phenomenal' Latin student. By sixth, I 'could' get a C. I reddened more and more every year when he'd look my way, it was shit.
He cared, that was his problem, he cared about more than rugby and the yearly opera, which was really just a school play, but they called it an opera.
Around this time last year I met Colm on the street. I barely knew him in school but he recognised me.
"What are you doing with yourself?"
"I'm working for Setanta, pays the bills, standard response, you know? You?"
"Oh I'm a stockbroker or something. Or maybe a solicitor. I can't remember. Anyway, are you going to the reunion?"
"Yeah all the buds are going to be there. Girv, ROG, Geordan, BOD..."
"Are you naming rugby cunts?"
"Well we're all the one really, aren't we fnar fnar fnar fuck I'm after getting froth on my tie. Anyway, yah, here's my number beside the 'ccino stain on this napkin. Call me to sort, yah?"
"Yeah, yeah, that seems like... yeah."
Luckily, there was a bin nearby.