When I was at school, there was a kid called in my class Arthur. He was red-haired and freckly and we called him Arty. He wore jam-jar glasses too, so we called him Arty Goggles. This eventually was smoothed out to Arty-Gog. Then it became Aww Gog. Often, it was just Gog.
There was a tragic splendour about Arty Gog. He wasn’t particularly academic or good looking, but in his own way he regularly managed to pass comment on the abysmal quality of the education we received in a way that none of the brighter, more popular kids ever did. Mid-lesson, when things were particularly boring, stifling and pointless, head down, he would give a loud, anonymous, despairing groan of, “Awwww Gog!”
That sound stays with me longer than anything else I ever learned at school. Which to be fair wasn’t much. More than the wooden-tongued teachers, the violence and beatings, or standing huddled in a rain-swept yard at breaktime, that simple comment, ‘Awwww Gog!’ summarises the dismal five years I wasted sitting behind a desk, not learning.