Ronald Leedham: Beatings

Ronald Leedham was born in 1929 in India. His family moved back to England in 1931after Ronald contracted Polio. Ronald spent some years in Hospital as a young child after contracting Diptheria. When he was six he returned home to Catford for a short while to live with his father, eventually ending up living in ‘homes for crippled children’ run by the Shaftesbury Society, until he was sixteen.

Here Ron describes one abusive teacher.


We had one bloke, Hazell his name was, Mr Hazell. He was about eight feet tall, broad as a bus, great big athletic man, blond hair, fancied himself something chronic, you know, he used to stride around. And he was a brute. He’d give you a good walloping at the first hint of an opportunity. Then he’d stand up on Sunday and conduct the service and preach to us about the love and caring and this, that and the other.
We had a saying, Mr Hazell, he’s a Christian, goes to church on Sunday, prays to God to give him strength to beat the boys on Monday. It was as bad as that. he was a nasty piece of work and he had certain proclivities that I’m sure you don’t want to hear about. He was a nasty piece of work. We went to, a bunch of the boys went to the superintendent, and they complained to him, about four or five of the boys, some of the older boys, but they complained to him about this chappie. And oh the headmaster just didn’t believe them.
You hear the same stories nowadays. It hasn’t changed. But he was the only one, he wasn’t... he never tried anything on with me thank God. I can mention his name now, if it’s going to go through that, the camera or whatever because I presume he’s dead a long time ago, but he wasn’t very nice. I've seen him.. there was one kid called Small, I'll always remember him, he was a thickset, tough-looking boy. I've seen him put Small over his back, over his knees and beat him as hard as he could on his bare back until it was red and glowing and I can always remember old Small he was a buck teethed kid and he had hair that stood out straight, always remember that. And he's looking round grinning at everybody while this was going on while this master went demented.
If it happened today that bloke would have been in prison for a long time. And then he’d stand up on Sunday and tell you about the love of the Lord and we were expected to be devout Christians. Hardly. Strange, very strange.

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