Another brick in the wall

| November 1, 2011 | 0 Comments

By Bruce Pinnock

Eddie Vinuchi has behaved badly.

But he is young. He might possibly not turn out to be a gangster just because his birth certificate father is Big Vince Vinuchi – yes, the Vince Vinuchi (Author’s note: names have been changed to protect innocent people – me.) Eddie’s school playground extortion racket involves threats, the mildest one being that your tuck-shop money will fall out of your pockets when you are held upside down and shaken if you don’t pay up.

I treat suspected gangster’s sons the same way I treat those large hairy spiders one finds on the wall above one’s bed in the game reserve. I carefully lock the door and spend the night in the car.

But I had some little sympathy for Eddie after he picked on Fat Freda (a girl destined to make some man very unhappily married one day) who, without hesitation, punched his lights out. Foolishly, I expressed this sentiment and the School Counsellor decided I should be the one to attempt to show him the error of his ways.

Eddie and I spent some afternoons at it. We also talked. Mostly incomprehensibly. The outcome was a bit scary. Eddie said he wants to pursue further education.

Until now, we have not been worried that Eddie may not succeed. Once he gets over Freda, he could become the Bad Brad of the Bouncer Brigade or the Kerjcir of the Hit-men. But what if he pursues further education? Will he have to aim higher? Chief Medico-Legal Adviser to Shabir Shaik? Robert Mugabe’s Swiss Bank Financial Adviser? Julius Malema’s Speech-and-Chant writer? These positions are taken. Education might make him unemployable.

When I received a letter requesting an appointment from a Mrs Vinuchi, I consulted the School Counsellor. She gave me advice born of years of experience. “Have you got a valid passport at the ready?”

For the meeting, I armed myself with the only defensive weapon I know how to use – shoes that would not fall off no matter how fast I took off.

When Mrs Vinuchi came over to the table near the exit door I had selected, I realized a gangster’s moll would not wear the glasses my grandmother wore. Or tell me that we had done a wonderful job with Eddie.

“I cannot thank you enough,” she said, “You have become my grandson’s mentor.” “So much so,” she continued, “that he wants to become a teacher.” I had to ask. “Why?”

She took her time. “On one of the ‘punishment’ afternoons, you took him to an Aids orphanage. And then to that abused children’s home… Those kids . . . without any real chance…” She looked at me. “Do you know, that was the first time he really thought about someone other than himself?”

It shook me.

“If he became a teacher, I would be so proud,” Granny Vinuchi continued, “but, unfortunately, his father wouldn’t share that pride.”

I had a momentary vision of Fingers Siciliano and Bennie the Leb falling about laughing. And Big Vince would want to know who was to blame for his son’s deviating on to the straight and narrow from the crooked and wayward . . . “You see, teachers are not…” She let the words hang.

“No,” I said. “Sadly, not.” She said, “For instance, what car do you drive?”

We contemplated my pre-pre-owned Toyota in the car park. “His father sets great store by the car one drives,” she remarked sadly. I eyed her brand new BMW 7 Series as I nodded nobly. “In Vince’s world, they earn respect. And anyone who disrespects him or his family…” she was good at letting her words hang.

I wondered if I would wake up to find the beheaded engine of my car in my bed. She laid a gentle hand on my arm, “Eddie has good intentions. But unfortunately, these can wear off, like cheap make-up.” She looked into my eyes. “Do you think you could perhaps give them some permanency?” And so we parted, I with some problems; the easiest one being to change the locks on my doors.

Perhaps Vince will be too preoccupied with his everyday work-a-day humdrum activities – you know, extortion, money-laundering, and such – to notice that his son, through his sheer neglect, is sliding down into respectability.

Mind you, let’s imagine Eddie does go into education, is successful, and becomes a Headmaster – while also having taken over from Vince as The Godfather!

Parent’s evenings, for one thing, would be different. I can think of a few parents who need a little reminder (like a kiss of death on both cheeks) to show some respect to teachers.

Bruce Pinnock teaches at St Alban’s College.

Category: Summer 2011

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