King Eanred School didn’t have a good reputation. A lot of this was just unfair. There’d been no human sacrifice in PE, and no one had discovered a whole cat in the canteen’s shepherd’s pie. But the history department really did have its own ASBO, the dinner ladies really were running a lunchtime protection racket, and an unexplained sheep’s head really had turned up in the school office. It was all very disturbing.
Everything that could have gone bad had. For a start, the pupils were horrible. It wasn’t actually a particularly bad area, but it took no time at all for the school to turn pleasant, middle class 11-year-olds into monsters who left best suited to the worlds of petty crime, long-term unemployment and substance abuse. The building was a grisly 1960s beast that at best looked like it wanted pulling down and at worst looked like it already had been, and then at the bottom of the school field there was this murky area of densely wooded wasteland, the subject of an abnormally large amount of police attention, especially after the discovery of a leg.
But it was the teachers that were the real problem, an unpleasant selection of louts, thugs, nutcases and sociopaths who together managed to cover the majority of serious personality disorders and most areas of criminal activity. It was extremely unlikely that such a motley assortment of the shady to the deranged would be found anywhere outside prison (or possibly a Jeremy Kyle double bill). That it had ended up happening in a school, where they had the future of an entire community to corrupt, just seemed cruel. The book catalogues a year of their punch-ups, drug dealing, Satanism and unparalleled teaching incompetence.
We’ve all imagined what our teachers might have been once they stepped out of the classroom. In Knuckle Sandwich, the darkest corners of this imagination are brought to life in grotesque, ridiculous technicolour.