Loner fights back

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 October, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 October, 2004, 12:00am

Eric Poon is a loner, one of those shy boys who is either ignored or bullied. Eric escapes from his unhappy school life by daydreaming. In tonight's Songbirds on RTHK Radio 4, you can hear the final episode of The Secret Life of Eric Poon. In this episode, Mr Lam, the bullying physical education teacher, comes in place of Miss Kwok, who is ill.

It is the first lesson on a Monday morning and Mr Lam is in a very bad mood - he is sarcastic to many of the boys in the class, including his favourite victim, Eric. But then something amazing happens - Eric stands up to Mr Lam in an unbelievable way. Mr Lam retreats from the classroom defeated. But when the class applauds Eric, he is not quite sure what he has done - he thought the whole thing had been a daydream but this time it was for real.

Below is an extract from the first part of the radio drama for you to read either before or while listening to Songbirds.

Sam: (Yawns) Miss Kwok's class ... time for a nice sleep.

Joe: Make sure you don't fall off your chair again, Sam.

Sam: I'll put my head on the desk. She won't see me back here.

Joe: I'll put my head on my hands and close my eyes. It'll look like I'm deep in thought.

Benson: The best thing about Kwok's class is she doesn't stop you sleeping.

Sam: Hey, guys, look at that geek Poon.

Joe: He's weird.

Sam: The way he's always staring into space.

Benson: What's he thinking about?

Sam: (Seeing Mr Lam walking towards the classroom) Oh, no!

Benson: What?

Sam: (Dismayed) Look who's here!

Joe: Oh, no, not Mr Lam!

Sam: I hate him.

Benson: What's he doing here? It's supposed to be Miss Kwok!

Sam: What a bore! I was really looking forward to a nice nap.

Joe: So was I.

Sam: I'll tell you what ... he better not call me thick again.

Joe: Thick?

Sam: Yeah. Friday at the swimming pool ... he called me thick.

Joe: What will you do if he does it again?

Sam: Punch him in the belly.

Joe: Punch Lam? You wouldn't dare!

Sam: Wouldn't I?

All: Good morning, Mr Lam.

Mr Lam: GOOD morning? Is it? I don't think it's a GOOD morning, I think it's a very BAD morning. Now sit down. Now, as you can see, I am not Miss Kwok ... Miss Kwok is 'ill' ... at least that's the official story (an unprofessional insult). And I have been 'told' to cover her class. Why they should ask a sports teacher to teach history I have no idea ... but there you are, they have and I am not a happy bunny ... not a happy bunny at all, so I warn you all right now I want no messing about, no talking, smirking, sleeping, stupid answers or bad behaviour of any sort, is that clear? (Silence) I said ... (Shouting) IS THAT CLEAR?

Boys: Yes, sir.

Mr Lam: That's better. Now somebody tell me what you've been studying with Miss Kwok. (Silence) What historical period? What century? What country? What kings, queens or emperors? (Sarcastic) Nothing. You've been studying nothing. (Silence) Benson, you tell me, what history have you been studying with Miss Kwok?

Benson: Um ... something about ... um ... what was it now? Something about ... what's his name? Some German, sir.

Mr Lam: (Sarcastic) Brilliant, Benson! I am stunned by your eloquence! You've been studying 'some German'. Well, who is this German, Benson? A football player?

Benson: Don't think so, sir.

Mr Lam: Or maybe a Formula One racing driver? Schumacher perhaps?

Benson: Um ... no, wasn't Schumacher, sir ... something like that.

Mr Lam: Shoelace?

Class: (Snigger)

Benson: Don't know, sir.

Mr Lam: (Mocking) 'Don't know, sir.' Well, I don't know, sir, how you are ever going to pass your history exams, Benson. I'd say you were heading for a big fat zero, wouldn't you? (Silence) I said, wouldn't you? (threatening tone)

Benson: Yes, sir.

Mr Lam: That's better.

Benson: (Whispering to Sam) I hate that idiot.

Now listen to the rest of the programme and answer these questions:

1. Who was the German that Miss Kwok's history class had been studying?

a. Beethoven

b. Hitler

c. Schumacher

d. Einstein

2. Mr Lam became so angry that one of the boys said that his face was as red as ...

a. a soft tomato

b. an overripe plum

c. a chilli pepper

d. a slice of watermelon

If you miss tonight's Songbirds, you can listen to a repeat next Saturday at 5.30pm or visit the Radio 4 section of www.rthk.org.hk

Answers: 1. b; 2. c