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www.corpun.com   :  Archive   :  2008   :  UK Schools Dec 2008

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UNITED KINGDOM

School CP - December 2008



Corpun file 20825

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The Mail on Sunday, London, 7 December 2008

I was thrashed at school with the dreaded Lochgelly Tawse, says Brown

By Simon Walters and Brendan Carlin

HE MAY have been such a diligent pupil at school that he went to university at 16 and has barely eased up on his work rate since. But Gordon Brown was not always so well-behaved.

For now, 41 years after he left school, the Prime Minister has revealed that he was subjected to the belt by his headmaster for threatening to play truant to watch a soccer match.

His confession came in a TV interview with business mogul and star of BBC1's The Apprentice, Sir Alan Sugar.

Young Gordon received the belt after Robert Adam, headmaster of Kirkcaldy High School, discovered that a group of boys planned to sneak off to watch Scotland play Italy in a qualifying match for the 1966 World Cup.

He called them in to his office and hit them with his belt, a widely-used alternative to the cane before corporal punishment was outlawed in schools.

In the interview Sir Alan asked Mr Brown: 'When you were at school, did you ever get the cane?' Mr Brown replied: 'The belt, yes.'

Clearly surprised, Sir Alan asked: 'The belt? You got the belt?'

Grimacing as he recalled the painful incident, Mr Brown added: 'The belts were actually manufactured in my constituency.'

The belt would have been a Lochgelly Tawse – a strip of leather with one end split into a number of tails – which was made in the Fife town of Lochgelly and widely used in Scottish schools at the time.

A friend of Mr Brown said: 'It happened in December 1965 when Gordon was 14. Scotland were playing Italy in Naples on a Tuesday afternoon to decide who would go forward to the 1966 World Cup.

'The headmaster announced at assembly that he'd heard some of the boys were planning to sneak off for the afternoon to watch the game on television and that would not be tolerated. But he said if there were any boys who were desperate to watch the game, they should come to his office after assembly to discuss it.'

When Gordon took the headmaster up on his 'offer', a painful surprise was in store. It was a trap.

'Some of the boys went round, thinking the headmaster might put a TV in one of the classrooms. Instead, he got them in one by one, gave them a good belting, and told them if they tried to play truant that afternoon, they'd get another belting every day for a month.

'Scotland were beaten 3-0, so they didn't miss much.'

To rub salt into patriotic Scot Mr Brown's wounds, the 1966 World Cup was won by ... England.

Mr Brown's predecessor as Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was also caned for persistently breaking rules at Fettes College, his private school in Edinburgh.

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