Nail through the nipple – another boarding school mishap

A nail through the nipple – I remember this like it was yesterday. A boy called Kevin who was a year above me decided he wanted to have his nipple pierced. Of course this was against school policy, and he was only 14.

So Kevin decided the cheapest and quickest way to have his nipple pierced was for one of us to hammer a nail through the nipple though it as quickly as possible.

I wasn’t stupid and there was no way I was going to get involved this this. I could see it going badly wrong. However, Kevin’s brother, Joe, was more than happy to oblige.

Nailed to the drawers

Kevin got his nipple ready and held it on the edge of the chest of drawers. Joe held the nail in place and then quickly and sharply whacked it with a hammer.

I’ll never forget the next bit. Kevin was now nailed to the drawers, screaming, as we all stood laughing at him. I quickly realised this wasn’t go well, so ran off before the house matron found out what had happened.

Unfortunately for Kevin, so did his brother. Left abandoned in a dormitory, Kevin was left to remove himself from the wooden drawers. He never did put a piercing in the hole…and I can assure you that a Nail through the nipple is definitely not the way to go about things. Not only was their a lose of blood, but it later became infected. The stupid things that kids do when they’re bored at a boarding school.


Immac Hair Remover on eyebrows – another boarding school prank

It’s fair to say we weren’t always as nice as we could have been at boarding school, and many hours of unoccupied time would let a 13 year old boy’s mind wander; to the idea of putting Immac Hair Remover on eyebrows.

I remember one prank in particular. Before it was known as Veet, Immac hair remover formed the basis of one of the cruelest pranks.

We would wake for one of the boys to fall asleep and then tiptoe into their room. We would then apply a layer of Immac hair remover to a boys eyebrows.

One of two things would happen next. Either the Immac would begin to burn, resulting in the boy wiping their eyebrows (and thus the hair away), or they would pop for a wash in the morning only to look in the mirror and see they had no eyebrows.

Kids can be really, really, horrible (and this was probably quite a dangerous thing to do).


How the day commenced at Boarding School

The routine at boarding school was pretty rigid. There were occasional changes but these were usually for lesson timetables or meal time changes.


Waking up

The day would usually start with being woken up at 6.30am. I can remember one House Master in particular called Major Eales. He was the husband of one of the English teachers and a former soldier. Now in his early 60s, he would arrive in the corridor at 6.30am shouting “Come on boys! Feet on the deck!” until we sat upright.

It would then be time to get washed and dress. Morning showers were reserved only for the Year 11 boys in Roding House (it was considered a privilege). For all others, it was a queue for one of a number of sinks and then a wash.



Around 7.15am it was time to make your way to the dining hall for breakfast. In the early 90’s this was often quite basic – cereal, fruit and toast – but I do recall it improving to much more by the mid 1990s.

We would all sit at large rectangular wooden tables, around 10 to 12 to a table. Jam and butter was provided in plastic cups, as was sugar. You would help yourself to tea, coffee, watered down juice or milk. Once finished, you would take your plate and try to the cleaning area where a team of staff would place the items in large plastic trays and put them through and industrial stainless steal dishwasher.

If you were in trouble, you may have been designated the job of cleaning tables and trays. This was a punishment used in the early 90s by Deputy Headmaster Mr Brown (nicknamed ‘Von’) due to his military style but would later be stopped.


Room inspection

After breakfast it was time to return to your room or dormitory for an inspection. This would usually consist of checking beds were made and rooms tidied and would occur around 8.10am.

In the early years this was quite rigid and in the first year also involved Saturday Morning Inspections. However, I seem to recall that the inspections became less rigid towards the end of my time at Hockerill.


School Assembly

At 8.30am it was time for school assembly, which I won’t go into in detail. We’ve all been through them!



In between assembly and  registration there was time for a quick fag (if you smoked) and then off to the first lesson for 9am.


Mr Brown (‘Von’) – Hockerill Boarding School

When I started at Hockerill Boarding School in 1991 there were two Deputy Headmasters – Mrs Marriage and Mr Brown.

Mr Brown was nicknamed ‘Von’ due to his military style of dealing with behaviour, and when he wasn’t dishing out punishments he was IT teacher.

Mr Brown had a vicious handshake. He would offer his hand and which point he would squeeze your hand so much you felt like all the bones inside your hand were turning into dust.


Lights outside the office

Mr Brown’s office was directly next to the Bursars office and reception where children who had been sent to him (usually due to poor behavior) whould queue. I seem to recall that he had a system of three lights outside his office to summon the next person in. If the light was green, you were OK. If the light went amber and you were next, you were in medium trouble. But if that light went red, you were in real deep shit.

Mr Brown always had a range of punishments at his disposal. You definitely didn’t want to be sent to him.


The limp

My Brown walked with a limp. I never found out why. Some people said it was because he had a wooden leg as the result of losing a leg in battle.



Although Von was feared throughout Hockerill, I always remember him as being fair. He was also the first person that taught me how to use a PC (RM Nimbus machines with a dot matrix support running Windows 3.1). It was thanks to him that I would eventually develop a lot of IT skills.


Mr Brown’s Retirement

I don’t remember exactly when Mr Brown retired. I think it was around 1993. I do remember that the school bought him a car as a retirement present – a Black Ford Granada Scorpio. That would have been a lot of money at the time; probably around £20,000.