Growing Up – School

Trying to fill in the gaps… trying to understand the process that has shaped my personality as an adult. Excuse me if I ramble a little, I’m not quite sure where I’m going yet.


I don’t remember much of primary school; there are only a few random memories that have managed to survive the passing of time.

My first day, a teacher trying to get me to sit next to another girl… I shook my head and went to sit alone. She followed me later, this girl, and became the best friend I had during my younger years, but I still remember little about her.

My teacher during second year of Junior school telling me, as I helped her take down display work one lunchtime, that time passes faster the older you get. I didn’t believe her, but have remembered that moment many times over the years, as I see my life fly by.

I remember taking my ’11 plus’ exam, and the memories are stronger after that. I passed, and found myself schooled in this wonderful old building with a hall that spanned two stories and huge stone staircases, with a variety of teachers that went from the old fashioned and mundane to the rather eccentric and exciting.

Within a few weeks I had found myself friends; it didn’t take long to realise that I had befriended people who would be some of the most popular girls in school. I didn’t really feel like I fit, but experience tells me now that most of us feel like that during teenage years. With these girls I experienced for the first time the kind of friendship where you share everything; we lived in a world with no secrets, except, of course, the ups and downs of my mother. That was always something which stayed behind closed doors… I wonder how many of them had closed doors too.

We discovered music, and parties, and gigs, and boys. We spent our saturdays window shopping or drinking coffee, or just hanging around the city centre. Yes, I was one of those teenagers most often found sitting on a gravestone in ‘pigeon park’, in my docs and combats. There was a downside to hanging with this crowd; I had to fit in as well as I could. I wouldn’t have gone to ‘cake decorating club’ because I’d have been ridiculed forever; After my second year there I wouldn’t compete in the yearly ‘chess tournament’, because it was not cool.

Aside from the social part of school, I did well. Academically, I found so many things that interested me and I was lucky to be in a place where the teaching was of a good standard.I loved languages and literature and, although I didn’t feel the same kind of passion for science and maths, I found that I could do it just as well as the rest. I’m a logical thinker, and that helped me progress even if I lacked the desire for knowledge.

My teachers had a varied influence in my life. Art was a class I’d never forget, because the teacher taught me something about my sexuality. As inappropriate as that seems now, it helped me to accept that my interest in girls wasn’t as out of the ordinary as I’d thought.

My languages teachers were vibrant and dramatic, and very real. They are the closest teachers I had to the kind of teacher I have become; they always had time, they always cared, and they always said what they thought. I still speak to one of them now, though nowadays she has lost some of her passion for teaching… I hope I don’t find myself there at some point in the future.

‘Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school,’ said Albert Einstein, and I can see what he means. When I think of my school days, I remember little of the content of those lessons. But what I do remember is people; I remember friends, and the need to be accepted. I remember teachers and the way those teachers treated us. While those early lessons in Geography and Latin and Technology may be worth very little to me as an adult, the relationships I formed will stay with me forever.


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