Monday 30th April – The moribund month is at it’s dusk – In a few hours April will take a terminal breath, passing over the 2018 calendar baton to May.

According to a lad with whom I attended Heathfield Senior High School in the late 1970’s, the month of May was named after his great aunt from Wallsend……. As his aunt was called Geraldine not May, and he was a renowned fibber, I suspect it isn’t the source of the moniker.


old woman
Aunt Geraldine

The same kid, who for anonymity purposes I shall call Tank, also claimed to have climbed the 20,000 foot mountain Kilimanjaro in his shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops; not to mention spouting a preposterous yarn he was 12th in line to the throne.

I’m all for surreal tales, deeming embellished stories for comedic value a harmless pursuit. However, when boasting of styling his hair with his dad’s circular saw, not forgetting a claim his mum telepathically answered his maths ‘O’ level exam questions on his behalf, Tank overstepped the threshold of the incorrigible creative to chuffing nutcase.

In his defence, Tank’s hair did look as though it’s been styled by circular saw. His locks were (as my mum would say if I’d had a bad haircut) “As short as it’s long!”…… I never knew what she meant with the comment, but it was pretty clear it wasn’t a compliment.

The enduring memory I had of my school pal, apart from his Walter Mittyesque stories, was he always smelt of sawdust. Not matter what he wore or undertook he bore the fragrance of wood shavings….. Apart from in woodwork class when bizarrely his odour morphed to vintage Stilton cheese.

I unkindly put the sawdust smell down to the contents of betwixt his ears, but like other classmates didn’t felt it appropriate to let him in on the fact he smelt like a lumber yard.

To be fair to Tank, as well as being a right lying get, I recall him as a lad with a good heart who got was never short of decent deals for wood sourced furniture. He was loyal to his mates, regularly giving them some ‘belting’ excuses for uncompleted homework assignments.

Through the creative epiphanies of this imaginative lad, in 1978 I became the first person at Heathfield Senior High to fail delivery of homework due to wildebeest stampede. To add authenticity, Tank punched me in the face to provide bruising and ink stamped wildebeest footprints on my uniform……. God only knows where he acquired the hoof ink stamp!

Unfortunately for me the teacher wasn’t buying my excuse, particularly as the ink footprints were those of a horses shoe not a cloven wildebeest hoof. Although, it was probably more the fact wildebeest weren’t native to 1970’s Gateshead that commenced unravelling my (and Tanks) web of deceit.

For my troubles I ended up with a black eye, a ink stamp ruined school shirt, detention and given 100 lines of “My excuses for not doing my homework must bear at least a shred of realism.”

Aware of the real source of the fib, the geography teacher had a ‘meeting’ with Tank. My school pal was unrepentant – Claiming in Hitler’s autobiography ‘Mein Kampf’ he advocated when telling a big lie it should be so colossal no one would believe their impudence to distort the truth so infamously.

Tank was given detention and made to write 100 lines of ‘I must be more discerning when selecting role models’.