Sunday 1st May

Buttocks.  A strange word and quite evocative; Anglo-Saxon I would imagine in derivation – can’t quite believe the French would say “les Buttoques”, but you never know.  And I hadn’t heard the word at all in my youth.  One’s derrierre was known as a bottom, or if in the playground a bum; even arse was rarely used.  But I cannot remember a specific word for one half of a bottom, or a buttock.

I first encountered the fateful word at Grammar School (and whoever said they didn’t educate us well).  Sports was a double afternoon lesson and the entire year would be out on the playing fields, all three classes.  The sporting year was divided up as follows; Autumn was Rugby (a game for real men), Summer was Cricket (a game for Gentlemen) and Spring was Soccer (a game for neither).

The year started in September, so it was rugby, a game I was barely familiar with, I may have seen a little on TV but certainly I had no idea of the rules (complicated as they are) or the different versions (our school was Union, of course).  So, it was cold and we were all dressed in our new sports clothes (mine drowned me as I was tiny in those days and Mum sensibly said I would grow into them {which I eventually did}, besides they cost a fortune) and shivering and Mr. Soames was attempting to explain how a scrum was formed to us rank amateurs.  “You three boys loop your arms like this and bend at the waist, now you two boys” and he pointed at me and another boy “stick your heads between the boy in front’s buttocks.”  Our looks of total incomprehension alerted him to our lack of knowledge, “Buttocks boys” and he firmly smacked the arse cheek of one of the boys. “These are buttocks, now stick your head between the boys in front’s buttocks.”

What?  Stick my head in-between a boy’s buttocks?  I had of course misunderstood and stood stock still in fear.  Mr. Soames grabbed me by the shoulder and pushed my head between two different boys buttocks.  Phew.  But I was tiny and suddenly two more boys were pushing against my own tiny buttocks…

I grew to quite like rugby, playing scrum half or on the wing – but I will never forget my introduction to the word “buttocks”.