Step on-board the time-machine, for we are travelling back to our school days! Before you get too excited about the prospect of eating Play-doh and jumping on tires, I’m talking High school. Now, some of you might be jumping in excitement, others of you, will be clinging onto anything you can get your hands on, and screaming “Please don’t take me back there…Please don’t take me back!” I guess I fall somewhere in between. I can’t say my school days were the best times of my life, but they certainly weren’t my worst. One thing is for certain, they taught me more than just the curriculum, they taught me how to survive!
The school bus
Before the school day has begun, we face the humiliation of tripping over our new school shoes and falling head-over-arse in front of EVERYONE on the school bus. “She fell over, she fell over!” the children chant. Mortified, we jump on the bus with a face resembling nothing other than a cherry tomato. If we aren’t tripping over, we’re getting our scarves caught in the door or, worse still, as the bus takes off before we get to our seats, we land in the lap of big Kirsty at the back of the bus. That “If you don’t get out of my lap right this second, I’m going to pound you like a piece of meat” expression crosses her face, as we cautiously tip-toe away. Only, every seat has now been taken and, as the bus trundles down the road, we struggle to find a seat.
Martin the bus driver, in his 80’s inspired attire, drives erratically over what seems to be every pothole in the road. Or perhaps he’d been smoking his funky cigarette again? We fly from one side of the bus to the other and back again. Feeling a little fragile, we finally find a spare seat…next to the ‘smelly kid’. His bag slips over and he pats the seat eagerly until you finally sit down. Unfortunately, you didn’t pack a peg for your nose, and your scarf’s still flapping from the bus door, so you have to endure the smell of sweaty armpits until you get to school. If it’s not perspiration ruining your day, it’s the smell of vomit occupying your lap. Turns out ‘smelly kid’ had a spot of motion sickness.
It’s amazing how any of us survived the dreaded first day of school. There we are so small and innocent. As we walk anxiously onto this alien terrain, a medley of emotion runs through us. We feel so little, surrounded by these boisterous GIANTS. As we explore our new surroundings, we get pushed, shoved, poked and prodded. It’s truly terrifying! Alas! After walking around like lost puppies for the past 3 hours, we find our room. My registration room was the science lab. Surrounded by severed pig’s heads and decrepit rats in jars, it was like a scene from a horror movie. Needless to say, I had many a nightmare during my schooling life. I also smelt like a Bunsen burner, not a great quality for making new friends!
With a little help from our friends…
It’s always a struggle to make new friends, especially when friendship groups have already been established. There we are, alone in the corner, staring at our feet and looking sorry for ourselves. It took me awhile to make new friends, but one day a very special person walked over. She briefly introduced herself and pretty much shoved me under her protective wing. Fifteen years pass by and I am still very much under her wing. In fact, my school days just wouldn’t have been the same without her. To this day, we still find ourselves reminiscing our school days, wishing we could go back, just for one day!
Although we still remain the best of friends, things didn’t start off on the greatest of terms. We first met in food economics. In pairs, we both made a set of cakes and popped them in the oven. Sadly, her cakes burnt to a cinder. Unbeknown I was watching at the time, she sneakily swapped them for my un-cremated ones. In all honesty, I was a bit scared of this crazy cake-swapping loony, and decided to ‘just go with it’.
“What did you make at school today, my dear?!” My mother asked.
“Nothing” I lied, throwing my charcoal cakes into the dustbin.
There was another occasion when she accidentally unleashed a heavy tree branch straight into my face. TWWHACK! My head swelled THREE times in size. Looking like the elephant man, I was rushed off to the first aid room, everyone stared opened mouthed and dazed. It took a week or so for the swelling to go down and a further 4 weeks to look human again. Needless to say, it didn’t do much for my already damaged street-cred!
Through the bad times and the good, school just wouldn’t be the same without our friends.
At the beginning of the year we all looked as smart as a button; trousers so long they trailed behind us, but smart none-the-less. By the end of the year, it’s a different story. By this point, the girls had pulled their skirts up a few inches, shirts half undone and hair a mess. The boys had holes in every trouser leg and shirts a darker shade of beige! Back in my school days, it was all the rage to wear our ties as SHORT as we possibly could. Looking back, we looked ridiculous. However, back then, if we had a tie measuring longer than 3inches we were labelled a geek. It was also ‘uncool’ to have a large rucksack, so I quickly ditched my ‘size of a small house’ bag, for a tiny one!
“What happened to your bag!?” my mother fumed.
“I was attacked by a wildebeest on my walk home from school”, I lied.
In reality, I may have set fire to it a few times, jumped on it, and set fire to it once more. To survive our high school days it was vital we looked the part, however outlandish ‘the part’ looked. So there I was, my tie so small it was literally a part of my neck, my skirt rolled up around the waist and my hair resembling none other than a bail of hay….oh, and not forgetting my tiny rucksack, fit for a toddler!
Despite this need to look like mini clones of each other, there were some kids who didn’t want to fit the mould. I loathed the way we would pigeon-hole people on the basis of their appearance. Naturally, these stereotypes were formed;
The Popular ones
The popular kids were generally the beautiful ones. Way up on the hierarchy, everyone wanted to be them. Even if we convinced ourselves otherwise. They would pass us by without so much as an acknowledgement. We’d stare green-eyed at their beautiful faces, flicking their beautiful hair with their beautiful hands, chewing their beautiful gum, with their beautiful teeth. Okay, that’s enough already!
The sporty ones
The sporty kids had it pretty easy too! Especially the Jocks as the American’s call them. Bodies to die for, the popular girls threw themselves at them – no complaints made.
The Geeky ones
The geeks were generally the intelligent ones. The hand-raisers of the class. The ones we would ask to work with, for the reason we’d get the best grades.
The emo ones
The emo scene was beginning to make an appearance when I was at school. These self-hating teens strutted around, hoods up, hating the world around them. They generally kept themselves to themselves, locking out the world with their blasting headphones.
The hippy ones
Everyone loves a hippy. These free-spirited tree-huggers spent their days making daisy chains and dancing amongst the dandelions. That was a fabrication. However, they did wear tie-dye and multi-coloured nail varnish!
The stoned ones
We could smell these funky cigarette smokers from a mile away. They would sit on the green (excuse the pun!) JAMMING to Bob Marley, watching the world go by in S….L ….O….W …….M…O…..T……I….O….N!
The naughty ones
There is always that one kid who spends the majority of their school life in detention. The one who thinks it’s hilarious to lock the teacher in the store cupboard. The one who thought it was acceptable to burn the science block to ash and blame it on a faulty bunsen burner. The one who is currently sitting in a prison cell, eating cold porridge!
The class joker
School just wouldn’t be the same without the class joker. The joker kept us amused in the most boring of lessons.
We don’t need no education…
School wouldn’t be school without our teachers. Some were good, some were bad and others were off-the-scale…ROTTEN! Of course, we had our favourites, usually the ones who let us get away with everything!
“Can I swing from the ceiling, Miss?” Some delinquent would yell.
“Go ahead, my dear!” they’d reply, smile on face and gleam in eye.
I dreaded lessons I had with such teachers, for the reason of being confronted by a room of unruly animals. Kids really were swinging from the ceilings, jumping off the desks and generally causing havoc. When I was at school, the boys thought it was fun to play a game they called ‘Flaming Lemons’, involving bunsen-burner boards and one flaming hot lemon! I lost count of the times I had my hair singed off by a passing lemon. If it wasn’t flying lemons ruining my day, it was a game they called ‘pole of death’. This wasn’t as deadly as it sounds, but it did involve a pole and two battling boys trying to throw each other off. Gone were the flying lemons, and so we had flying boys instead! If we weren’t destroying classrooms, locking teachers in the store cupboard or making a mockery out of teachers coconut-shaped head, we were sure to be causing trouble in others ways. There is no surprise we watched many a teacher openly break down in front of the class.
“I can’t take it anymore!” They would scream, running out of the room with tear filled eyes.
And so another one bites the dust. If they weren’t running for the hills, they were reaching for the bottle. We had this one maths teacher who hid whisky in her desk.
“I’m just getting my special pencil” she’d slur drunkenly, as she reached down under her desk.
We always wondered why she had so many special pencils, and later found out this was her code for whisky! Looking back, perhaps we did give our teachers a bloody hard time? I have nothing but respect for anyone working in the education sector, especially teaching teenagers. I take my hat off to you all!
As the bell rings, so began a stampede of eager kids, stepping over each other’s necks to break free. Although the gates still surround us like prisoners in a cell, it was great to be out of that classroom. Whether we were getting dirty on the football pitch or admiring the shirtless rugby boys from afar, recess (or break-time, as the Brits call it – hasn’t got the same ring to it, has it?) was our favourite time of day. It was a time when the ‘cool kids’ could sneak off behind the bike sheds for a quick nicotine fix. It was a time when the glee club could churn out one their musical numbers. It was a time we could make all those special memories with our friends. The memories we find ourselves reminiscing decades later.
Let’s face it, the school cuisine was never very appetising. The smell of the deep-fat fryer was enough to put me off food for a week. “Fish pie anyone?” Bon Appetit! My mother would give me money to buy lunch, only I would spend it all at the sweet shop down the road. “£3.00’s worth of penny sweets, please!” I would ask. It wasn’t long before my mum started to question my eating habits and so she’d send me off with a packed lunch instead. The sandwiches got squished up so they looked like I had eaten them (but I actually hadn’t!). I’d take one bite out of my apple, counted as my five a day and enjoyed my chocolate biscuit. My favourite biscuit of all time was the TRIO – do you remember these bad boys? They had a funky little tune…
“Triooooo Trioooooo, I want a Triooooooo and I want one now!”. With a theme-tune so awesome, who wouldn’t want a piece of this chocolate goodness?! Sadly, the Trio died off in the 90’s. Many tears were wiped.
So we’ve eaten our weight in penny-sweets and now it’s time to GET PHYSICAL….
Let’s get physical
Some of us loved a good old run around, others not so much. As the apparatus came out, so did the long list of excuses. Some girls did anything to get out of physical exercise. They’d forge notes from their parents saying they were menstruating for the 3rd week in a row. Now we all know this is scientific unfeasible, however, the teachers would nod and point to the bench of non- proactives. If it isn’t lady’s problems, it’s a dodgy hip or a spontaneous limp!
For the proactive, we’d indulge in sports like cross-country running, basketball and hockey. Quite frankly, hockey terrified me. Angst-ridden teenagers and hockey sticks can only ever result in injury or a lack of teeth…either way, it’s going to hurt!
And so we enter the ‘showers of doom’, which everyone avoided like the plague….all but one! There’s always one exhibitionist walking around in the nude, making everyone else squirm with embarrassment. “No Angela, I don’t want to talk maths homework when your nipples are pointing right at me”.
Amongst a medley of estrogen and testosterone, it’s inevitable that feelings are going to develop. And so young love is born. Nervous giggling, hand-holding and a touch of heavy petting. There was no way of avoiding all that ‘brace on brace’ action. Metal feasts aside, we didn’t really have a clue what the heck we were doing. My first encounter involved spaghetti hands, metal mouths and too much saliva to know what to do with! I was so mortified by the whole ordeal, I ran home crying! What makes me laugh the most, is how serious we thought these relationships were. We literally thought it was the end of the world if our lovers copped off with one of our friends. So there we were, nursing our broken hearts whilst listening to power ballads and sniffing our long lost loves t-shirt. “I just want to feel close to him!” we reassure ourselves, bubbling from the nose in a state of hysteria … because sniffing t-shirts is completely normal!
When I was at school I had an admirer, let’s call him…Bob. Bob liked to write me love notes and poetry. He also liked to sniff my hair when he thought I wasn’t looking. It was all a bit strange for my liking. I felt like he was always two steps behind me, watching my every move, picking up my hair strands and sticking him in his book of memoirs. His crush for me still remains until this day (I kid you not!). A few months ago I received a Facebook message from him, declaring his undying love for me. I thought I had made it pretty clear that I wasn’t interested. I mean, I didn’t write back to any of his letters and I’d generally avoid him like a sexually transmitted infection.
Talking of STI’s….
Let’s talk about sex
When the big boxed sized TV rolled out on squeaking wheels, we knew we were going to see some ‘rude stuff’. Unfortunately, a baby shooting out of a blood-infested vagina wasn’t what we had in mind. Our mouths drop open as we witness more blood and mucous than a slaughter house! It not only made us feel a little light-headed but quite frankly it put us off sex for life! So, it turns out sex education was a bit of an anti-climax! And if a home-birthing video from the 1980’s wasn’t bad enough, we’d spend the rest of the afternoon trying to achieve the impossible task of putting a condom on a banana! Make sure you wear some goggles or you’ll have an eye out!
After seeing more balls than a ping-ball factory and witnessing a complete slideshow of every sexually transmitted infection in history…we’re glad to hear the last of those squeaky wheels!
It’s the end of the year, but before we toss our school uniforms upon the fire…it’s time for the end of school disco. To be honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the school disco. All that cheesy music and kids trying to street dance. “No, spinning on your back like an upside down tortoise doesn’t contribute to urban street dance!” I was the girl sitting in the corner trying to look invisible. Oh shoot, the slow dance comes on and out pops my old friend Bob! Before I run for the hills, I grab a sausage-on-stick and some fizzy pop. I love a buffet I do!
Our school days…
Back then, I couldn’t leave soon enough. These days, I look back on those times with nothing but nostalgia and a slight yearning to go back (just for one day!). Whether they were the best days of our lives or the worst. One thing is for sure…we survived
We freaken survived!!!
I dedicate this post to my cake-stealing, branch-beating bestie. Thank you for making my school days tolerable! x