The Mystery of the Phallos

Simon Barker

Dad stayed home from work today and went to see Mum in hospital. Jane and I did not come because last time Jane would not let go and wanted Mum to come home. But Dad said Mum was not recovered. That made Jane throw her tantrum all the way in the car. Dad said after this performance we had better wait before we saw Mum again. So today he visited on his own. I took Jane up Mobbs Hill and left her at her school. On the way back the rain came pissing down and I got soaked.

Our English teacher Mr Slade was away so we did not do Wind In The Willows. I am sick of Wind In The Willows. My Granny read it when I was little but now I am sick of it. We had to do our homework instead. Chifley said what if we have no homework, and Miss Murdoch said I am sure you have homework for one of your subjects. Do that if you have no English. Chifley had a book called The Perfume Garden. He borrowed it off Jones. It is a filthy book he said. It is from India. It is all about how to do it. It had a chapter called How To Make Your Member Large And Beautiful. I said Member was a funny word for your dick and Chifley said that is the word you must use or the book will get banned. But everyone knows what it means. I tried to read some under the desk but Chifley kept turning pages before I had finished. It was fairly dirty. Chifley said did I know what is the dirtiest book ever? It is Lady Chatterleys Lover. I said we had that at home. How could you he said because it is banned and you can not buy it in Australia or you will go to gaol. I said my Dads friend in London posted it and the post office did not check so we got it. Chifley said you have to bring it to school. My brother says it is the dirtiest book ever. It does not say your Member it says your Dick.

In maths Miss Affleck sent me to Mr Bruce because I did not complete my homework and this is three times. I brushed my hair behind my ears because last time Mr Bruce said get a hair cut Son your hair is beyond regulation. I had to wait in the office. Not doing your homework is a grave matter Mr Bruce said especially when you have been reprimanded twice. But there is another graver matter he said do you recall I instructed you to have your hair cut. I said yes. Then why have you not obeyed me Son. I said I did not know. He said the school rule is clear as crystal it must be above the ears not brushed behind. Long hair is associated with crime he said. Do you know if my car was stolen nine times out of ten it would be some one long haired he asked. He said report to detention this afternoon and tomorrow I expect to see your hair cut.

In the night my Dad cooked mixed grill. He could not remember Mums instructions and the vegies burned. When he took the lid off smoke went to the ceiling and it smelled very burned. So we had scrambled eggs again. I am sick of them like I am sick of Wind In The Willows. After dinner my Dad drove to the hospital. He did not come home till late. I got Lady Chatterleys Lover and started it. My sister asked what I was reading and I told her it was a book. I read Chapter One and it was about the War and Lady Chatterleys Husband coming home from Flanders in bits and not being able to have any children. But I did not find any dirty parts. When my Dad got home I asked could I have a note about my hair. My Dad is good at writing. When I stay home but am not sick he writes my son had an Indisposition. That is not a lie he tells me it is merely ambiguous.

In the morning I read Lady Chatterleys Lover again. In the book it said the Sex Business but it was not really dirty. I put it in my school bag. It is a paperback and on the front it says the book cost three shillings and six pence and is unexpurgated.

Mr Slade was back so we did Wind In The Willows again. It was not boring this time because Chifley and I read Lady Chatterleys Lover underneath our desk. Chifley did not read Chapter One because I told him there are no dirty bits. He flicked the pages until he came to them. It said the word Cunt but it did not say Dick. Instead it said John Thomas and the word Phallos. What is Phallos Chifley said to me. It must mean Dick I told him. Phallos Chifley kept saying The Mystery Of The Phallos and he sounded like an Englishman. I was pissing myself.

At lunch I had to report to Mr Bruce. Your hair is not cut Son he said to me. I expressly stated that you must have it cut by today. I showed my note and Mr Bruce read it. What is this he said the length of my sons hair is not a matter of educational significance. I am sorely disappointed he said. Your father appears to be an educated fellow but he does not grasp the importance of this matter at all. I thought he was going to put me on detention but he only said some more things about long hair I have forgotten and then he dismissed me but I did not get any lunch because it was time for sport.

Chifley and I do not do sport. In summer it is just cricket and in winter it is rugby. They are fascist sports. I would rather do long distance running but they do not have it of course so Chifley and I do debating. Miss Murdoch sets the topics. Todays were “That Children Should Be Prevented From Playing War Games” and “That Coed Schools Are Better”. I was on the government for the first debate. When I started debating I really stank and my mark was 4 4 5. But this time Miss Murdoch gave me 9 8 8. When it was over Chifley made me get out Lady Chatterleys Lover. He asked Miss Murdoch have you read Lady Chatterleys Lover and she said yes but where did you get that copy it is banned. Chifley said it was my Dads copy. Miss Murdoch asked is this true and I said yes my Dad lets me read it. Your Dad sounds quite progressive she said but you should not bring it to school because it is considered obscene by the benighted authorities here and you might find yourself in hot water. Can I read some to the class Chifley said. He is a stirrer. But Miss Murdoch said yes if you wish to broaden the outlook of your fellow students please give us a recitation. Chifley started reading a dirty bit and everyone shouted and sniggered so Miss Murdoch said I think that is enough. Give the book back to Richard if you are all going to be so childish. Then everyone made more noise. Mr Bruce came in to see what it was about and he saw the book. What is that book he shouted. Give it to me. He went off his rocker. He said I can not believe it. First you defy me over the school regulation on length of hair and now I discover you with this. You are a disgrace he shouted and he ripped my Dads book. It was already ripping because kids had been trying to get it off me all day but he ripped it in half. I was shitting myself because now Dad would know. What are you doing Miss Murdoch said to him. That is my book. What he said. He was very red in the face. It is my personal copy she told him and I was lending it to Richard so that he could grasp the significance of our debate last week. She said the topic last week was “There Should Be No Censorship Of Literature”. What rubbish Mr Bruce said to her. This is not literature this is banned. You will have a lot of explaining to do young woman putting this into the hands of a miner. He shook his finger and he looked like he might explode. She said to him for Gods sake Harry the law is an ass about these things and once the government is changed such books will be studied in schools. But Mr Bruce shouted address me correctly in front of these boys Miss Murdoch. No you are being totally unreasonable she said back to him. See me in my office he said to her and threw the two halfs of Dads book in the bin. After they were both gone everyone in the class went OOOOOOH.

My Dad came home early again because Mum was still in hospital. I did not tell him about the book. I could not think up any excuse. When I was watching TV some one knocked on our front door and it was Miss Murdoch. She said to my Dad I assume you have already heard about the incident this afternoon. He said no I have not heard. I find I am rarely made privy to any incident these days. She gave him back the two halfs of book Mr Bruce had ripped. He looked at me but I started watching TV again. Miss Murdoch explained about debating. She went into the kitchen with dad and they talked for a long time. I heard her say Mr Bruce was unbearable and how she dreaded that job and that this is a very backward country we live in and my Dad told her this country was run by second rate people very second rate. Then I heard them talking about London and other books. My Dad asked have you read Kangaroo and Miss Murdoch said yes at the university. One of the characters reminds me of Harry Bruce. I watched My Favourite Martian while they talked. I heard Dad say he would like to extend his hospitality but Richards mother is in the hospital and I am a notoriously poor cook. Miss Murdoch said thankyou but she would have to decline in any case because otherwise she would miss her train. She shook my hand and said goodbye I will miss you and the other boys even Chifley. My Dad drove her up to the station but he was gone a very long time. When he got back he said you are fortunate to have teachers like Marigold. Marigold is Miss Murdochs name.

Miss Murdoch was not at school anymore. Instead we had a teacher called Mr Cox. Mr Cox was bald and when we heard his name we cacked ourselves. Chifley said Cox we can not call him Cox. That is a banned name. We have to call him something else. What about Phallos I said. No that is banned too he said even though no one knows what it means. We have to call him Mr Member until the government changes and then we will be able to call him Cox. So we all called him Mr Member behind his back. He did not do debating so Chifley and I had to do the fascist sport of cricket. Then on a Friday Mum came back from the hospital. Dad said your mother will be unable to carry things for a good while. She is convalescing. But at least she will be all right. The doctors were extremely apprehensive but now they believe she will make a full recovery. She will not be able to bare any more children my father explained. That is all right I said I do not care about that. He said it was a small matter in any case because they were content with two children my sister and me. He stuck the two halfs of book back together with sticky tape.