Landsborough West isn't a real town. Landsborough proper is barely a real town and certainly doesn't qualify or need any Cardinal divisions. LW was once a town. Which is to say it had a train station, a general store, tennis courts and a town hall. But all that remains now are the tennis courts and the stumps where once the weather-board town hall sat. And LWPS. Until 1990.
LWPS consisted of a portable (the main school room) and an old run down school house, the Barkely Room. This was all situated in quite a large paddock with lots and lots of trees; far more trees than would be acceptable in any current school yard.
We only ever had one teacher at any one time for the entire school. Given that the teacher would have to prepare class work for grades prep to sixs, do administrative and principle duties and, more often than not, watch Days of our Lives, our recess and Lunch times were generally unsupervised.
I like to think of it as my very own Lord of the Flies. Yes, we weren't stranded, there was no wild pig and we didn't hunt for food. We did have a forte, ill-conceived tree houses, and an incinerator that we were allowed to use. And no, we didn't have a conch. But we did have sling-shots, and although we might not have possessed the civilised democratic
ambitions of Ralph and Piggy, when someone has a sling-shot aimed at your head, you tend to quiet down and hear them out.
Some crazy shit happened during luch times. We killed snakes, played "show me yours, i'll show you mine", started fires, broke windows, cut down trees, got chased around by poo filled underpants and generally misbehaved. The story I remebered today isn't quite as action packed but, given the circumstances, equally dramatic.
It was the summer of 1989. My friend Aaron and I were sitting in the Barkly room at lunch time listening to music. We finished playing Bon Jovi's slippery when wet so we switched over to the radio. On came a young Eric Weideman, fronting 1927, with If I Could. Now for 9 and 10 year old boys, that song is deep. We sat in silence absorbing the sentiments of the song, both trying to understand what type of love would make you 'want' to do anything, anything at all, for someone. And how could we get that feeling now.
I don't know how it came about but we decided we would both write Love letters. Given at the time our student population was only 10, we were limited in who would be the object of our affection. We both chose the same girl and by that I mean there was only one girl that was suitable within our age range, Lori. We decided we would write her a series of letters, declaring our love, and ultimately ask her to choose one of us to be her boyfriend. Although we were best friends, Aaron and I, nothing could stand in the way of artificial true love and boredom.
Not long after I got home from tennis, all sweaty and tired, I got a phone call. It was Aaron.
"Nat, we are fucked."
"well what are we going to do? We are totally fucked. fuck."
"we need those letters dude. I don't care what we have to do but we have to destroy those letters"
We decided we would ride our bike to the school right then, break in, and destroy the letters.
I arrived at the school about 20 minutes later, Aaron, who lived a little further away would take another 10 minutes. I was pacing around the school, nervous, doubting if the letters were even still inside. Aaron turned up and we decided to get started.
Breaking in was no trouble. We had seen it done before. A few times our teacher/principle had lost his keys and locked everyone outside and had to break in. Wire and poorly designed window latches was all that we needed. We scrambled through the window, careful not to knock too many things over on our way in. We were alone in the school.
Aaron walked over to Lori's desk and opened the lid. He pulled out her blue folder. It was here. He brought it over, threw it on the floor and we both dropped to our knees, the blue folder between us. We exchanged a look, I'm not sure what Aaron was thinking but I was thinking, "Are we really going to do this?"
Then, in a blink of an eye we were tearing pages out of her folder, our love letters, grabbing them recklessly with our entire fists and, I don't know if it was me first or if it was Aaron or it was simultaneously, we started to eat them. Both of us, kneeling on our school floor on a Saturday afternoon stuffing love letters in our mouths, furiously eating them, swallowing big chunks of sloppy A4 loose-leaf while trying to work up enough saliva for the remaining pages. The frenzied moment of spontaneous love letter eating soon passed and we were left with a lack of adrenaline and with the chore of eating love letters, both of us all too aware of the absurdity of what we had done. But that paper still took some chewing.
We left the school the way we broke in. We both got on our bikes ready to ride home in opposite directions.
"That was kinda weird, eh Az?"
Silence. Aaron just stared over my shoulder like he was already mentally riding the long, hot journey home.
"Alright, I'll see you Monday, Natio"