Confessions: The Custard Bowl

Twenty years ago, when Simon was a whippersnapper presenter on BBC Radio 1, he received thousands of letters from listeners confessing their darkest secrets and worst misdemeanours, begging for his forgiveness. Every day, Father Mayo read out a confession - and then he'd decide whether to grant forgiveness or not.

Now Confessions is back on BBC Radio 2 Drivetime. Read a Confession below, then Send Simon Your Confession


Dear Simon and Collective,

I recently retired as a Head teacher of a small but perfectly formed faith school in the North of England.

As part of my duties it fell to me to run the school minibus to both pick up and deposit pupils who lived some distance from the school. The vehicle in question was a large minibus adorned with lettering identifying the school and a contact number.

After a long hot day during the summer term I was driving 13 hot, and noisy pupils home.

I was approaching some traffic lights and decided to pull out into the middle lane of three, to go round a van that was stalled in the inside lane. Unfortunately as I did so a small car with two ladies in had decided to overtake me at the same time- so they were forced into the outside lane which meant that they had to make an involuntary right turn.

The concerted gasp from the pupils in the bus drew my attention to the near miss as well as being informed by them that the car had swerved back into the correct lane and was now in hot pursuit.

I reduced speed and as the car went past a certain amount of gesticulating was undertaken by the driver who quickly disappeared into the distance. Obviously I pretended to ignore it, In spite of one of the pupils observing that 'She wasn't happy with you sir was she?'

The following day I went into school and as part of my usual routine checked the answering machine in the office. I was treated to a blistering message from the irate driver of the previous evening which called into question not only my competence as driver but also my fitness to be in charge of children and after about 5 minutes a call for my dismissal as a member of staff of a faith school where I was obviously a bad example of the worst excesses of religion.

The driver obviously thought that they had disconnected their mobile and it became obvious that they had made this call immediately after the incident, they continued to discuss at great length faith schools and the type of person allowed to work there, not realising that they were still connected. Ultimately the conversation reached its conclusion after using up the memory capacity of the answering machine.

What was I to do? Not only was I the driver of the bus, but I was also the head teacher! How could I rectify the situation without compromising my position and the good name of the school which of course was clearly written on the side of the minibus?

I went into the loo for a moment of quiet contemplation and decided that there was only one course of action.

Standing in front of the mirror I firmly berated my reflection for my careless lack of attention and informed myself that I took the matter most seriously.

I then phoned back the lady in question and introduced myself as the head teacher, I explained that I took this sort of thing very seriously and had immediately identified and spoken very sternly to the driver of the bus (which of course I had).

I explained that it had been a "Mr. Johnson" a new supply teacher who had only been with us a few weeks and I was sure that he was very sorry for his unacceptable road manners. I went on to reassure her that he would never again repeat this sort of behaviour in one of our school buses for fear of finding himself an ex-supply teacher.

Having told my story, I enquired as to whether the fact that "Mr. Johnson" had been so severely reprimanded was sufficient indication of how seriously I took her concerns?

"Of Course!" She replied, adding that she was both grateful for my call and the swift manner in which I had responded. She ended the conversation by making it clear that she was more than happy to leave the matter of disciplinary action in my obviously capable hands.

I now feel I require absolution, as I cannot pass a similar make of minibus, even now, without a twinge of conscience and so I offer my confession for your wise judgement...

A Repentant Head Teacher

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