Brother Keith Weston
Dark tales from the Christian Brothers
As told in my first book - Cleary Independent - HarperCollins
Brother Hayes, our rotund, quietly spoken Principal departed soon
after I arrived in 1962, to be replaced by the tall, stern, foreboding
figure of Brother Weston. The aroma of pipe tobacco, doused with
Old Spice hung like cumulus nimbus clouds, above Weston when he
arrived for class after the lunchtime break. His moods, like that
of Brother Darcy, were unpredictable and at times inexplicable.
The day he took to a quiet, innocuous kid, knocking over his desk
in a fit of rage, we gripped our seats paralysed by fear.
The Christian Brothers often warned us about girls, especially girls
from state schools where Protestantism and sinfulness was rife.
The Brothers, who we assumed knew little about girls and the lure
of sex, regularly staged social nights where we could fraternise
with female descendants of the Virgin Mary.
"Christ told us to go forth and multiply but he did not intend
that we multiply Protestantism. Your motto, 'luceat lux vestra',
must be worn with pride. Do you understand what that means?"
said Brother Richardson.
"Yes, Brother. Our light must shine just like Christ's did,"
we chorused in sublime deference.
"So when escorting a girl along a footpath what does a Catholic
boy do, Mr Cleary?"
"He walks on the side nearest the gutter, Brother."
"And why is that, Mr Cleary?"
"So that the girl is shielded from possible splashes caused
by passing cars, Brother," I replied, the saint inside desperate
Brother Weston at work
If a boy had sporting talent there was no chance that it would lay
dormant. Brother Darcy, our Grade 6 teacher, terrorised anyone foolish
enough to avoid his calling. Bending over at the back of the room
waiting for that whistling cane to embed itself into the fleshy
part of your backside was a nerve-wracking experience.
"Next time you miss training it will be 10," he'd say,
sliding his free hand along the cane as if it was a samurai sword
dripping with the blood of an enemy's head. Darcy eventually left
the Brothers and married an ex-nun.
Inexplicable acts of aggression and fumbling, awkward sexual advances
were sufficiently common to convince young boys in shorts that all
was not well with some of the blokes dishing out punishment at St
Joes. Fortunately we weren't locked in an orphanage when night fell.
I did however feel the shock wave of apprehension when a Brother
opened the door one night during a Retreat and asked, "Do you
need to be tucked in?" The same bloke had earlier taken me
to the Presbytery for what he called a vocational talk. When he
inquired as to the level of my sexual knowledge and the operations
of particular parts, I sought my leave.
When I wrote these paragraphs in 1998 I was not absolutely sure
about Weston's behaviour. It was Weston who poked his head into
my room on the Retreat. He was the same brother who took me to the
presbytery for 'a talk'. Only later, when contacted by a former
classmate, did I realise that Weston had made a habit of sexual
molestation. The defamation laws precluded me from naming him.