Bully Problems? Call Ozzy!

by Jeff Suwak

In his 2010 autobiography I Am Ozzy, the rocker recounts how he dealt with bully behavior.
Ozzy Osbourne's school career was rather brief, lasting only until he was 15 years old. A big reason for his becoming one of Crazy Train's "dropouts who make their own rules" was that he had dyslexia and ADHD, but neither were diagnosed until he was in his 30s. Throughout his childhood, he had no idea why his brain "was such a useless piece of fucking jelly" and felt only shame and embarrassment for his inability to retain information. It's funny to think that: if the field of psychology had advanced just a bit faster, Osbourne very likely would have received assistance with his problems and gone on to become something like an accountant or a math teacher.

The bullies that tormented Osbourne certainly did not improve his relationship with school. From about the time he was 11 years old, he became a target for some rather vicious harassment. He'd get home from school and promptly have his trousers pulled down while he was teased and humiliated. It's an oddly specific form of torture for Osbourne to suggest, but he assures us that he was never actually raped.

One cannot be judged for assuming that Osbourne enacted some kind of horrific revenge on his tormenters. He is the man, after all, who is documented for having bitten the head off of both a dove and a bat. He was actually much more tactical and diplomatic than that, however. He found the biggest kid in his grade, made him laugh, and befriended him. Simple as that, no kids ever messed with Osbourne again.

The worst bully Osbourne dealt with, however, was not a kid at all. Rather, it was Mr. Jones, the school rugby teacher. Jones would check the children's necks every morning. If he found them unsatisfactorily clean he would drag them by the collar to the sink and scrub them down "like an animal." For punishment, Jones forced the students to pick shoes from the shoe rack so that he could beat them with them. If a child tried to pick a smaller shoe, Jones would whip him twice as hard.

One day, however, Jones pushed the shoe routine a little too far. Osbourne just happened to have some metal rods in his satchel. His father had given them to him so that he could make screwdrivers in shop class. Jones, as usual, decided to berate Osbourne and have him bring a shoe for another beating.

Jones gave Osbourne three of four whacks before the future Prince of Darkness' infamously unpredictable temper exploded. The boy grabbed one of the rods from his satchel and threw it as hard as he could into Jones's face. "I was never any good at sport," Osbourne recalls, "but for those two seconds I could have bowled for the English cricket team."

Jones stumbled back with blood spurting out of his nose. Osbourne ran. He told his father about the event that night and was relieved when the man exploded in anger at Jones rather than Osbourne. The incident marked the last time that anyone at school ever whipped Osbourne again.

So, the ultimate takeaway of the Osbourne Manual for Conflict Resolution? Make friends with the biggest guy around. If that doesn't work, smash the bully in the face. Imperfect, perhaps, but more sensible than some of the advice floating around out there.

December 11, 2015
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