School wasn’t the best I’m sure most will agree
I remember gazing upwards in a raw moment of pure awe. Looking up from the playing fields at this massive structure that was going to be my school in a couple of months. The two day visit from primary school was going spectacularly well, I was amazed by the amount of freedom we had. We were allowed to take in footballs whenever we liked and kick them around the large playing fields. A freedom not afforded to us at Primary school. Primary school was strict. I couldn’t wait to go to High School.
As I continued to gaze up at the spectacle that was my new school I caught a glance of this really tall boy walking down the steep hill into the playing fields. He was on his own minding his own business; I remember thinking to myself “Jesus – he’s tall as hell” as the sun spun his shadow on the hill to make him look taller than he actually was. He was in a world of his own. It was at that moment I saw another boy, probably half his size run behind him at full speed,
“He’s going to bash into him if he’s not careful” I thought to myself as the boy came speeding out onto the hill
It was then that I realised he had other plans as he whipped out the wooden plank and smacked it against the head of the tall boy. He crumpled to the floor in an instant. I watched in slow motion as the smaller boy began to lay hefty right footed kicks into his stomach and face and then brush himself off and walk away slowly as if nothing had happened. No-one saw it either. It was minutes before anyone noticed him laying there. And the blood. Jesus. Could anyone actually bleed this much?
I can remember having that white cold feeling in the groin area. The feeling of petrification. I didn’t know what the hell I was getting myself into. I didn’t know who either lad was. Not even to this day, but it was a horrific sight for a young 11 year old to witness. I’d hate for my Son to go through the same thing.
“Sit down, be quiet and shut the fuck up” the big 15 year old girl said to us as we started to bounce off the walls on the school bus. We were like a herded bunch of deer at the front of the bus, tussling over one another shying away from the prey at the back. We eagerly awaited the first day of high school. Her name was Debbie, she sat at the back of the bus where the older kids sat. She was like the Kennoway bus route prison guard. Anyone stepped out of line then more than likely you’d get it in the neck from her. It was a privilege in our school to be young and back seat material. You ranked in popularity by how close to the back seat you were. It was in my head, anyway.
First day of school was like a sharp knock to the head. I had walked in with my Postman Pat lunchbox for a home meal. We rarely did school dinners because my Mum hadn’t two pennies to rub together. So there was me, on the first day of year one with my wee postman pat lunchbox waiting in the dinner line. To say I was laughed out of the queue was an understatement. Kids are cruel. It became quite apparent to me that whilst popular in Primary School, lunchboxes were strict social suicide. Fair to say that went in the bin after the first day. Mum not pleased with my decision went and bought me something very cool instead against her better judgement.
First year was a strange time for me. They put me in a class with no-one I socialised with and god knows what they were thinking when they put my bitter enemy in the same class as me. Yep, only boy in my previous class that was in the same class in High School was my rival. You know. We weren’t just casual haters, we were bitter and twisted about each other. Hell knows how it started but we just didn’t get on. It was strange really because we both lacked Dads, we both had the same problems in life, you’d think we’d get together, chillax and discuss the meaning of life. Ego perhaps? I’m not sure.
I’m still rather bitter about that actually. I had no-one in my first year. Not one iota. I write this and I’m like “Yeah, that wasn’t damn fair” because it wasn’t. Perhaps I’m crying over spilled milk. Who knows. Anyway. Suffice to say that I did make casual friends and I did settle eventually. I expect it was just as tough for him too. Having to see my fat head every day when all he wanted to do was punch it. Come on teachers, you’re better than this!!
I remember the first time we were brought our class time tables and shown the classes we were going to be in. The look on my face when we were shown our maths class. Maths, I loved Maths. It was my favourite subject because if there was anything I was good at it was solving problems.
There stood what looked to be a man that stood four times the size of me and perhaps three times as wide. When he stepped into his class the ground would shake and the tables would shudder in earth quake style. I remember his first words to us.
To me it sounded as if he had fiercely barked some orders to children in the other end of the school. His face was covered in small red veins that gave him a blotchy reddish glow. To me it looked as if he was going to explode into a ball of rage any minute. I sat quiet. I damn well listened.
Ah, well, that was Mr Schroeder. Turns out his bark was bigger than his bite. I think he really wanted to do well with us kids, he had it in for us. But our classes were always a mess with him. It all began when one kid started to kick off. She refused to do any work. She was rebelling. I can’t remember who it was but I can remember him taking the softly approach. And kids being kids they seized the day.
“Veni Vidi Vici.”
Poor Mr Schroeder. A man who would have better served his profession with teenagers that had no hope. Teenagers that hadn’t seen the warm smile of someone that actually wanted to help them. I only think this through reflection. I didn’t think it at the time. I used to love watching our class descend into a chaotic mess of kids fighting, throwing paper aeroplanes and disrupting any way that they could. It was an excuse to kick my feet up and do nothing. Did I tell you I also have a crazy lazy streak?
You can see by what I write that I love the English language, right? My new English Teacher was a far cry from inspirational. I remember Mrs Rogers. A small woman that was akin to a Yorkshire Terrier yapping at your feet. I can always remember the dull drone she would use when addressing us, like she was being paid to talk to us but would have rather been somewhere hot, sunny and sipping sangria whilst the yachting boats sauntered by on the sun drenched coast of the Mediterranean. I didn’t like her. She always sounded like it was a battle to get out of bed in the morning. I don’t think I ever seen her once smile. Perhaps she couldn’t. Perhaps it was something to do with the weight of gravity on her tiny frame. Who knows? Anyway. Enough slagging teachers.
I always look back on the first years of school as a battle to stake your claim. There’s 150 kids in your year and they are all battling it out to get to the top of the hill in one big social ladder climb jungle. People jumping up and nosediving off the top all the time. I think for a boy it’s more of a battle of egos. I remember once two lads had a fight over a chair. A fucking chair? Yep. They took each other out and smashed ten lumps out of each other because there was one missing in their class. I doubt it was anything to do with the chair in essence, but that ego. Can’t be seen to be letting someone best me, oh no!
I think it was the same for most of us guys. Like the time at the end of second year when I literally got my lights knocked out. I had been fighting with some dude in the group we hung around in. You see we played football and sometimes matches got overheated with opinions and this guy punches me in the head. So I return the favour by punching him in his. Can’t be shown to be weaker! Ego remember! Unfortunately for me at the time we were fighting two kids that hung behind the bike sheds were hopped up on god knows what at the time and oversaw this. And they ran and told his “hard” friend. Now, you know, I’m up for fighting with anyone but when you hear this guy is coming to knock you the fuck out. Yah. Um. Well. It’s not good let me tell you.
I remember watching him stiff-walk down the hill. Like he was a man with an aim. His determination. His eyes set on me. I can remember that white cold petrification seep into my balls. I was scared, I was shit. Scared. I remember people crowding round me with big smiles on their faces, people I knew and respected, people I liked. I remember them saying, “Ooooo. You’re going to get the shit kicked out of you now mate” They wanted a fight. They wanted to see blood, and crushed bones and whatever. Hah. I remember trying to talk my way out of it. Fat lot of good that did.
I watched him as he walked up to me. But then I lost him for a second. In that second his first punch landed square on my nose. I fell down. I can’t remember much. Only being kicked in the head, punched in the face, kicked in the stomach. Being told to get the fuck up. Would this guy ever ever stop? I tried to just let him hit me, I would take it. I can take a good few hits. But he didn’t stop. I feared he wanted to kill me. In the end I ran. I bolted it like there was no tomorrow. Hot footed it southwards into the woods and didn’t stop. It was humiliating.
But I’m glad I experienced it. I learned a valuable valuable lesson that day. And that was your actions definitely have consequences. I wasn’t one for being on the receiving end of consequences until then, so it taught me a good lesson. And I relaxed. I chilled out a bit more.
Walking back up to school that day after I had fled like a scared rabbit I remember taking myself to the nurses office to clean myself up. I remember one of the girls that I knew being there that day. She offered me a kind few words. It was nice after having your ego torn out and stamped on. I didn’t have much to do with Laurie. But it was nice that she talked to me all the same. A kind word travels a million miles longer than a negative one. And after cleaning myself up. Yup, there was blood everywhere, I went back to German class.
Third and Fourth year were a drag. And to be honest I didn’t go to school much. I was getting tired of it. I wanted to be out and free and spread my wings. I was hurting and I was missing John. I was becoming quite the addict by then so I would occasionally stay at home and drink Vodka, however I could lay my hands on it. I remember the attendance officer coming to my door quite a few times, leaving a note to call the school and I would end up ripping it up afterwards. God knows how I got away with it but I did. I would always forge Mums notes. I got away with that too! I was becoming my own worst enemy. I remember my German teacher saying to me, “What’s happened Raymond? Your grades were always perfect. Now they’re not so good”. I didn’t have an answer for him. I didn’t know myself.
I can’t honestly remember much more. Only that I acted stupidly most of the time. I’m not sure if my maturity had delayed. I don’t know. I do agree with middle schools though. Let those guys that need the extra time to develop like myself do that.
Something happened to me at the end of fourth year and I quite don’t know how to explain it without sounding like a right big headed cocky idiot. But I’ll explain it anyway because it happened to me. Take away what you will.
I holidayed to England at the end of fourth year with my Dad. He would often take me to these parts to see the family he was living with at the time. A nice stable family they were and I have the fondest memories with them. Yet it was strange. Everywhere I went I had girls asking me out left, right and centre. I wasn’t used to this sort of attention before and it came as a shock. Always. Always wherever I went I would more than likely have some girl approach me and ask me about her mate.
Shocked was I, yet terribly afraid. You see I had absolutely no self confidence as a child when it came to women. Women were a fuckin mystery to me. Even more a mystery was myself. And I felt a deep loathing for my “being” that I couldn’t possibly be accepted in this way. So I dismissed them. I even hated the uncomfortable situation of being in that. I hated it. I wanted to be with a girl but I at the same time wanted to be alone.
I blame my traumatic childhood with my Dad. The excessive blame shifting in childhood that lead me to develop a huge complex with confidence.
Yet it was non existent in high school? I always thought I was an ugly twat until then. I blame popularity and social circles. Perhaps I was seen differently by my peers in High School. Who knows!
I can tell you that I was seen differently by many people. My refusal to connect with women because of my low self confidence was seen as awkward. I’ve been asked many times if I was homosexual. My Dad, thought I was homosexual. He said to me once when he was drunk, “Son, you know I’ll always love you, even if you do garden the other way”. I must have shocked quite a few people when I appeared with wife and child in 2010 on Facebook. Hah!
At the beginning of fifth year I jacked it in. I remember talking to the vice principle at the time about my absences. I couldn’t bring myself to attend many classes then. I hated that all the people I knew had left. I was back to being wee Norman nae pals again. I hated the lonesome walks to the chipshop. Or the walking about on my own during breaks. The vice principle had warned me that they were close to kicking me out were I to take any more. So as I said in my last post I found Fife College and off I went.