By June 24, 2015 0 Comments

Thank you Casio!

As a child, I attended a very strict Lebanese, co-educational Diocesan Catholic School (I won’t name the school but think of Jesus’s ‘father’ and you’re not too far off with the name…)

I don’t remember seeing any of the teachers, priests, monks or nuns smile much… I do remember the supervisors’ satisfaction when they beat us. We did what all kids normally do and we got a good thrashing for it. I guess it helped me liberate myself from the stale and antiquated dogmas associated with that school.

Every morning, we were made to march into church to attend a mass prior to starting the day. I remember the church was always cold, even in the summer sweltering heat. It felt eerie in there, cold and soulless and none of us the young students wanted to be in there…

We had to sit through the daily droning and dramatics of an old and very creepy priest, who made lucifer appear a really swell guy. Incidentally this same ‘intense’ character was later ‘made to retire’ by the church because many young boys came forward with the now all too familiar and sad story synonymous with many churches around the world… luckily I was spared.

That church had a tall ceiling and it was made of old traditional Lebanese stone. Any noise made would reverberate and echo endlessly from wall to wall. So when the old priest used to start the sermon, it felt like there were ten of him going at once. The sounds would overlap one another and we rarely understood a word he said.

On my 14th birthday, I was given a digital Casio melody wristband watch. This was the coolest device at the time. It was more than a watch, it played music, albeit polyphonic squeaky tones but who cares… it played music and games too! My fellow students would gather to watch me press a button and listen to the music it played… their faces in awe!

The first thing that I used the watch for was to cheat in exams, I discovered that you could store a couple of sentences in there and it would scroll them back, a character at a time but that was enough to let me pass – the teachers never suspected. However, the best use for the watch came in the church… I felt it was my duty to ‘liven’ up that place.

We walked in, miserable as always and we were made to sit on the cold wooden benches. The old priest started the sermon and when I saw him get into character and as his voice rose along with the echoes, I pushed a button on my watch and out came the tune of ‘Happy Birthday To You’

The old man’s face was of horror! He looked around to see where the sound was coming from but could not guess. The squeaky electronic bleeps from my watch were far more irritating than his voice and they appeared to be louder. The other students laughed and he ordered them to be quiet while still looking from side to side. I just stared ahead and let the watch do its magic. He wandered in the aisles trying to home in on his suspect but he could not really identify the source and I made sure to confuse him further by turning it off and back on at random times.

This form of amusement was priceless and soon a supervisor was ordered to be present during our mass to stop the unruly behaviour.  They tried very hard but they couldn’t stop me or other students who now owned similar watches from causing the ‘disruption’

The priest tried many tactics, including guilt trips but we ignored him and that church become a stage for daily birthday and Yankee Doodle tunes and many giggles followed.

Somehow in the process of us being children again, made the church feel a lot less colder…

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