Our Greatest Benefactor
There was one series of events that I found bizarre whilst I was there. I remember one time Tea was interrupted by a guy, Mr. Hughes, who came in the refectory door. He would probably have been in his thirties or forties. He walked in and stood on one of the steps down into the refectory and held up a huge see-through bag of what looked like sweets without their wrappers on.
Suddenly all the boys and priests in the refectory burst into applause and cheers for this guy.
“What is going on?” I enquired of one of the guys from third year.
“He’s our biggest benefactor” he replied.
I never did get to the bottom of all this. The sum of his benefaction seemed to be that he worked in a sweet factory and he brought sweets from there to us. However, none of the sweets had wrappers on them, although they were all well-known brands and the other thing is that they were all misshapen, crushed or were just parts of the normal product.
They really fawned on this guy. In my perspective, even as an eleven year old, these were reject products and were probably rescued before they were dumped in some bin at the sweet factory.
However, nobody seemed to want to take this on board. It seems that the ovation he got, although not quite orchestrated, the boys all knew what to do.
He was always known to everyone as ‘our greatest benefactor’. I did ask if he actually contributed anything more than reject sweets but nobody seemed to know. My strong hunch was that he didn’t.
One other thing always mentioned about him was that he was a Protestant. It was said that despite that he still gave to ‘the’ church. It was always assumed that Protestants were in darkness. Any of them who did us a favour was always assumed to be in the process of being led to the truth by God.
It would be interesting to find out this guy’s perspective of it all. Was he just a kind hearted guy who worked at a sweet factory and who thought that it would be better to rescue reject sweets that were about to be binned and bring them over to the local boys school? Or was he wavering on the verge of conversion to the true faith. One feels that the latter was a long shot.
I don’t know what he thought happened to them. I presume that he thought that they would be immediately divided out amongst the boys.
Removed for Special Occasions
After he had gone the sweets were immediately taken away. At special occasions in the future we would receive a single mangled caramel wafer or whatever it was. I always noticed that what was passed out to us didn’t seem to match what was given in.
It always happens in any strict regime where the rulers have absolute power that ‘output’ tends to get siphoned off by those in the ruling classes. I have no idea whether the Fathers were gorging themselves on reject chocolate bars, but I do know that we got less than the sum of the whole.