By this stage John was very bald on top and he had a fringe of hair running round the sides of his head that only just met at the back. As he strode down the line during morning inspection, he spotted a youngster in Form IV, Edmund Garwe. He was hard put not to laugh. The boy had shaved his head to match John’s bald pate. ‘Garwe, I think you and I have something to talk about,’ he said without a smile.
When Garwe showed up at his office later in the day, John invited him in sternly and made him wait while he finished a paper he was working on. Without looking up, he said, ‘What you did today took a great deal of courage. You might well expect to be caned or perhaps even suspended for such a deed.’
‘Yes, sir,’ said the almost bald youngster.
John sat back. ‘I regard what you have done as the sign of a healthy teenager and I like your spirit. However, we cannot have the whole school doing the same thing or thinking that it is in order to do this type of thing, can we?’
‘What do you think I should do about it?’
‘Maybe a small caning… a very small caning?’
‘…And you will shave off the rest of the hair on your head?’
A very, very small caning it was… with the solicitous enquiry as to whether he had a sharp razor available to shave the rest of his head.
When John related the story to me, he said he had been so pleased to see genuine naughtiness taking place rather than insolence. ‘The boy’s eyes were like saucers, Nan – he was terrified – but he still had the guts to do it. I like him – he’s potential Head Boy material in a couple of years time.’
Next day at inspection, as John strode down the lines and without checking his step as he passed the shining, hairless pate, he said quietly, ‘Nice haircut Garwe!’