R blog IconThe young men above are both inmates of a Victorian reformatory. The chap on the left has earned the right to wear the uniform of the “section of honour” while the unfortunate on the right has been compelled to wear that of the “section of disgrace” which carries the name of the institution – thus acting as a deterrent to absconding.

Part of my upcoming novel is set in a place like this one where my main character, Jack Brennan has a spell working as a teacher.

When work details and lessons were completed that day, Father Ignatius summoned Jack to his office and told him he needed to exercise greater discipline over the boys or risk the termination of his contract.

‘You’re too soft, Mr Brennan, too lax. It’s important that the boys make progress on the path to virtue and the only way to do that is by exercising strong discipline and close attention. You treat the older boys as though they were your friends. That’s a poor state of affairs. These are common criminals. It won’t do, Mr Brennan, it won’t do. There was pandemonium in the hall this morning. Complete insubordination. You were on duty but did nothing to restore order. The only way these reprobates will learn is through strict discipline. This is a final warning. Do you understand me?’

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