Thursday, March 22, 2007

William Frame

Some things are hard to forgive. And the hardest person to forgive is you.

I was cursed with a long memory. I can’t remember sometimes what I did yesterday but recollections – pleasant and not so pleasant – appear, grow dim, vanish and come back into stark relief as regularly and perhaps as predictably as the planetary motions.

I’ve done a lot of things in my life of which I am not proud. Sometimes I wish I could forget. Perhaps I’d be a happier person. Perhaps if I was a happier person I could be a better person, too.

Not that I’m unhappy person, you understand. I have a great wife and a great daughter. Somehow, things have worked out okay for me in spite of the many times I’ve let others or myself down.

Oddly enough, one memory which regularly comes back to haunt me may not seem to you to be any big deal. It’s something that happened a long time ago, back when I was maybe nine or ten years old. So we’re talking mid-1960’s here.

And it was simply this. A new kid came to school. In fact, it was three kids. The eldest boy came into my class. There was a younger boy and a younger girl, as I remember.

The boy who came into my class was called William Frame.

We all instantly took a dislike to William. He was timid. He was skinny. He was an interloper. He looked poor and I think he was poor. William also looked a little unclean. I can remember he didn’t smell so good.

It’s always tough for kids who transfer to a new school. Friendships and cliques are well established. If you’re a tough kid and you can handle yourself this doesn’t really matter but if you’re a weak, scrawny kid that smells a little, like William, some kids are going to turn on you and make you an object of scorn.

Poor William got beat up regularly by some of the kids simply because he was an outsider and easy to bully.

And you know, it’s also easy to fall in the way of things, especially if your pals are encouraging you to take part, applauding you when you did, making you feel like a valued member of the gang.

I can only remember hitting poor William once. It wasn’t in my nature to be a bully, you understand. It didn’t sit well with me. As I say, though, once I did go along with it and egged on by my pals I waited for William and his younger brother and sister one day after school and thumped him.

I can remember clearly that as I hit him I saw the look of anguish on his younger brother’s face. His big brother was being hurt, humiliated, tortured in a sense, and he could do nothing about it.

This is what has remained in my mind all these years. It surfaces every now and again when I start to think to myself that maybe I’m not such a bad guy after all.

Nothing very much, you say? Kids will be kids, after all … right?

It’s ironic in a sense that I now do the kind of work I do. Because now, as a middle-aged man, the pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place. The reason why William and his siblings looked so poor is that they were poor.

And what was the reason why they came to our school so late on in their school lives? Who knows … but perhaps there had been a domestic situation where the family had been forced to move to a new locale … maybe things at home were bad … maybe they had been removed to a place of safety …

Or maybe I’m being over fanciful.

I know for sure that there was suffering and want etched on the faces of those children.

The world had been unkind to them.

I believe in a kind of instant karma. What goes around comes around. A couple of years later I was involved in a road traffic accident in which I was nearly killed when I fell under a bus. Somehow I got away merely with a broken tibia. However, I was laid up until well after the summer holidays and started late at high school

Guess what happened to me.

Maybe someone somewhere frets about beating me up in the same way I fret about what I did to William Frame that day. I really do.

There’s no way to put it right, you see.

I know it’s silly because – and I want to assure you that this is the truth – I’ve done worse things in my life. But for some reason, when I think about this seemingly small incident, I could hang my head and weep with shame.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi there this isnt a school called rannoch is it??as i know willy and for some reason that bullying i think has made him what he is today. Although being a weathly business man who started off with nothing and now has a big house two kids etc he is so business orientated and very defensive and his sense of humour is some what lacking, however if this is the same willy frame that we are talking about i wouyld be greatful as im sure you would be also to give him a call as i have just spoken to him and he wishes that also....his number is 07836381434 Regards Edward

Gordon Scott said...

Edward, thanks for leaving this comment. This sorry episode took place at a school in Wishaw, in Lanarkshire, called Berryhill. That doesn't mean to say it's not the same William Frame but it makes it unlikely. I have no idea what became of him and thinking back he wasn't with us very long. If you need to get back to me my email address is gdwscott@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

How strange, the parallels in life. By accident, I ran across your blog. My name is William Cole, but when my parents divorced in the mid 70's, my mom remarried and made us use our step dad's name - Frame. I say 'we' because I am the eldest of 3 children - I have a younger brother and a baby sister. No, I'm not the William Frame of this story, but I'm *a* William Frame, and this is also my story (except for the smelling part - mom was pretty strict about taking baths (grin)).

I was in the 4th grade when my parents divorced and we kids were pulled out of school 3 months after it had started and dropped into a new city and school dozens of miles away. On my first day at the new school, during recess, I was standing off by myself watching the other kids play when a girl in my new class walked up, said "Hi new kid, welcome to the class" and punched my in the nose, knocking me to the ground. After that, I got beat up pretty much every day until we moved to another town a year later. My only crime - I was the new kid and I was too skinny, too weak to be able to fight back very well. (And yes, I got jumped many times while my younger siblings watched and cried.)

We can't changed the past, regardless of if we were the victim or the agressor. Nothing you can say or do will ever make go away the physical and emotional pain a child of the past felt. The only thing you can do is teach your own children to respect others, to show kindness instead of hatred, to reach out to the stranger, instead of lashing out. If you can do that, then maybe you will have earned forgiveness, since you will have done a better job with your children than your parents did with their's.