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To Whom It May Concern

I am writing to inform you why I have decided to take my own life, but first please accept my apologies for intruding on your time, both for the suicide itself and for making it necessary for you to read this note.

On 20th November last year, during third period – it was a Wednesday if I remember rightly – Matthew Evans of 9C, Mr. Lewis’ form, was playing in goal at games, mainly, I’m told, because he couldn’t do anything else, least of all kick a ball. The wind was strong and, after about twenty minutes, the goal, which was one of the movable ones we keep in the store by the tennis courts, blew over and narrowly missed him.

The P.E. teacher at the time was Mr. Dixon and, seeing what had happened, he decided to remove the goalposts and use some bags in their place, a quick and simple solution which meant the chaps could continue with their game without fearing for their safety, and play football rather than spend the rest of games running around the games field, something all of the boys hate and which Mr. Dixon hates monitoring, as it involves him running too to make sure they don’t hide behind the equipment shed halfway round to smoke cigarettes.

The following day after full school assembly, Mr. Dixon came up to me, mentioned what had occurred and told me that we would need to invest in some sandbags to stop it from happening again. Unfortunately, I was busy that day as we were talking to the various contractors who wanted to build our new IT block – I needed to arrange delivery of a basketball hoop for my son’s birthday too – and I completely forgot about what he said.

After the Michaelmas term was over and the chaps had had their Christmas holidays a new P.E. teacher, Mr. Rodgers, was employed to take over from Mr. Dixon who, over the Christmas period, had had some kind of stroke after his morning run and cigarette. Rodgers was a younger man and much loved by the boys for his easygoing nature and quick wit.

On February 10th, however, he decided to let form 8B play football instead of rugby, and he got the boys to get the aforementioned goalposts out of the shed. Suffice it to say, he did not know about the incident of the previous November as Mr. Dixon hadn’t pushed me for the sandbags – I understand he just stopped using them – and I had not followed the matter up, busy as I was with the contractors.

Again, it was a blustery day and, not long after they had warmed up, a strong gust blew one of the goalposts right over and straight onto William Morris’ head, cracking his skull and killing him instantly. Morris was a lazy boy whose marks indicated he was never going to be a leader of the future. Nevertheless, he did not deserve to die, and I accept full responsibility for what happened as the incident occurred as a direct result of my inaction and my disregard for Mr. Dixon’s warning.

At the time I believed, by talking to the contractors, I would be bringing something new and great to the school – to wit, an IT block – but, in fact, it lead to tragedy, by which I mean a boy’s death, not mine, as I am sure the majority of people will see my suicide as unnecessary and, in fact, an act which proves me to be a coward as it could be interpreted as me abdicating rather than taking responsibility for what happened.

These people are perfectly entitled to their opinions and to a certain extent I would have to agree with them. My suicide is the act of a pathetic man. However, it is at least consistent with the kind of man I am since I am clearly more concerned with personal glory (the IT block) rather than the students I ostensibly lead. I am too self-involved to really want to serve others.

No headteacher has had a boy die on them at this school, no headteacher has been responsible for anyone’s death and no headteacher has lost a contract for an IT block because of his inability to perform his duties adequately. If I do not kill myself I will no doubt be dragged through the gutter press and fired anyway (that would be awful for someone as concerned about their reputation as me). I will lose everything I have worked for, not to mention the respect of my wife and sons.

There are other ways out, I understand, including a prison sentence, but who wants that? I’d rather die than go to prison for criminal neglect, and 45 isn’t such a bad innings, a solid contribution to a team’s total, even if I do say so myself.

Tell my wife and my sons that I love them and that they should probably dispose of the sandbags I got them to hold down their beloved basketball hoop.

Yours sincerely

Trevor Collins MSc

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6 thoughts on “Sandbags and Goalposts

  1. Technically he did not murder the child so he could, more than likely, have received a wrongful death lawsuit instead of being charged or guilty of murder. He could have attempted to make things better but he took a different approach. The person in this story was more concerned about himself and what could happen to him instead of thinking about making the best of this tragic situation. Also, his suicide could have been viewed as a deep feeling of regret and taking responsibility for the the child’s death but we see that was not the case because of his letter. You never know the condition of someone’s heart when they commit suicide but this story definitely provides a great example. Good job.

    *The sad thing about trying to make things better in situations like this and others is that he would have been ridiculed for trying to restore his previous professional status and goals despite his best or perceived best intention; e.g. Michael Vick.*

  2. I can see how this played out in your narrator’s head. His voice is clear and strong, and he comes across as self-important.
    (Incidentally, I know someone who was a headteacher and had a child die in a games-related accident – the weight of responsibility crushed them for a while.)

    • It’s based on a story I heard when I lived in Japan. A headteacher did do this. A lot of my Japanese fans thought it was disgraceful. By killing himself he was abdicating responsibility. The old Samurai nobility thing for them was ridiculous

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