What with the way the world seems to be going, I’ve remembered a couple of events from my semi-distant past.
We had neighbours once, with children. It was before ours went to school, and being a naïve foreigner I knew very little. When it was time for the neighbours’ oldest to move to secondary education, they wanted the school that was perceived to be the best in town. Without paying for their education, that is.
So they did what they had to do and ‘omitted’ ticking the box on the form that showed the boys had attended a catholic primary school. Because back then – and it wasn’t that incredibly long ago – it seems anyone could attend the good state school, except for catholics.
When they were refused places at this school and they checked the application form, it turned out some kind soul at the primary school had ticked the catholic box for them.
They fought the decision, but by the time the authorities had changed their minds, the boys had begun term at the school deemed appropriate for their kind, and decided to stay where they were.
But as I said, it came as a shock to me.
As for speaking up, all the neighbours in our neighbourhood attended a public meeting about some development plans the nearby private school had, in the school’s hall. The chairman spoke at great length, putting the school’s needs and wants out there. After all, they were the private school, and the neighbourhood was just that; just people.
One woman had a question for him, and when he didn’t shut up for long enough, she piped up anyway, saying ‘I just wanted to ask…’
The chairman pointed his finger at her and replied, ‘lady, when I want you to ask, I’ll let you know.’
Which was when everyone stood up and left.