I was chatting to Tones last night and we ended up giggling (OK… I ended up giggling, he was laughing in a very manly way!) about a story I told him. This story had been stored in the back of my mind and one I will giggle at every now and again but it’s worth sharing so I thought I’d share it with you.
I went to a Catholic school when I was growing up and at the age of 11, in Year 5 (Grade 5), I had for my Home Room Teacher, a nun named Sister Margaret. I remember her well for this story I’m about to tell you.
Let me give you a bit of background. I lived in a pretty average neighbourhood with lots of immigrants. Most of the people in the area came from another country. My school was a multicultural school and when we had “International Day” when everyone comes to school in their national costumes, it was a fantastic sight with somewhere between 90-100 nations represented!
I had friends that were Sudanese, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Lebanese, Filipino, Greek and Italian. In our grade with about 100 students, only 2 were white Australian. My piano teacher was Hungarian, we were picked up after school by an Egyptian lady. Everyone spoke different languages at home and ate different food and although all the kids spoke English at school, we all had parents with thick accents who didn’t speak English properly.
Most of us were first generation Australian, some not even that, they were born in their respective countries and had come over to Australia with their parents. I never learned the word “racist”, I never even knew what the word meant or that it existed until I moved to a completely different school in High School (but that’s another story).
The point of telling you all this is that with a school full of kids from different cultures and backgrounds, you learned very quickly how to pronounce their initially strange sounding names (both their first names and their surnames). The Vietnamese kids had the names that were most difficult to pronounce for the teachers (and most kids) but I made it a point to make sure I pronounced (and spelled) them properly. In fact, their names were so foreign that a lot of them ended up changing their names when they were older to a more recognisable, easily pronounceable English name!
Now… back to Sister Margaret, God bless her. I can’t remember for the life of me whether she was writing naughty children’s names really largely on the chalk board at the front of the class OR if she was just using this Vietnamese boy’s name for an example of something else she was talking about but as SOON as she wrote his “name” on the board in HUGE writing, and in capitals, the class sat there in silence staring at the board, mouths open!
Here before us, stood a nun in front of a chalk board with what was supposed to be a boy’s name written in huge capital letters….
LOL! I can still remember her looking at us all staring back at her and saying “What? What’s wrong?”
When you’re a kid and you’re not allowed to swear or say “naughty words” and you’re trying to be “good” what do you say? There were a few stifled giggles.
The boy whose name she was supposed to have written on the board stood there abashed, his head looking at the floor, an “Oh man….. ” smile on his face half laughing at what she’d written and half knowing he was going to get teased by his friends.
“What’s going on?” Sister Margaret asks, starting to get cross.
Can you picture it?! A class full of 10-11 year olds staring at a chalk board with a nun standing in front of it who’d just written “FUC” on the board, looked at it and then finished it off with a “K”!
One of the “naughty boys” enthusiastically answers “Ummm… Sister Margaret…. YOU wrote FUCK!”
The boy’s name was Phuc. It is spelled PHUC and it’s pronounced fook.