School Years: Part II – The Early Years

Ahhhhh the easy years, 7 and 8. It was a simpler time. No exams, no pressure, just asking people what their MSN ‘addy’ was and sharing loves on Bebo. Friendship groups had formed and, more importantly, so had the fine art of spiralling. The first test of who the alpha male was – who could kick the rugby ball the furthest. Technique was everything. Hold the ball flat pointing out in front of you, cut across it with the outside-middle of the foot, catch it right and watch it fly like a bullet. Catch it wrong and boot it onto the roof of the sports hall changing rooms and you’re a knobhead who nobody speaks to for the rest of the day. Oh and don’t forget you’re bringing the next one. Indeed, whoever was crowned the alpha male was overshadowed on the fields in the summer by a certain Mr Drury. The Ronaldinho of St Wilfrid’s, he would megs you twice, flick it over your head and turn you inside out all to the woos of the girls who watched on, and you could only hang your head in shame and applaud the maestro.

As for teachers, one of my first was the one and only, Mr Bellwood. He taught Geography. Or Geog if you were too cool to say anything’s full name (I’m looking at you, Res Mat people). Creator (and presumably emperor) of Bell Woods, he was the epitome of bearded greatness. You know like Samson’s beard gave him strength? Well Bellwood’s beard gave him the complete geographical knowledge of Castleford. Though, I’m sure he made some things up; whether we were doing longshore-drift or volcanoes he always managed to relate it to Cas somehow. But nobody questioned him. You could never question the Bellwood. “When I was a lad in Castleford in 1957, we didn’t have rain, we had lava.” “Ok Sir”. Absolute legend. I don’t know what this image is that I just got off Google, but it’s almost certainly a tribute to him:

October would bring my first experience of St. Wilfrid’s Day, which in the lower years involved a mass and a fair. Exciting stuff, and what’s more is that the fun began way before the big day, with HYMN REHEARSALS! Woo. Conducted by the Head of Music, Mr Clark – a man too cool to smile at his own jokes (or at all, in fact), they were a painful two hours of condescending ‘I can’t hear you!’ cries and year vs year loudness contests. But I guess we did have to learn the songs and I sympathised with the guy trying to motivate several hundred adolescents to sing through their not-quite-broken voices (except Ratty, I think he already had a beard and sounded like Leonard Cohen by 12). And it wasn’t all bad; it meant two hours of no lessons which was like a mini-Christmas, especially if it was swimming in P.E.

Alas, all the practice didn’t exactly pay off. My rule was: mime, and if you see a teacher looking at you, mime louder. It was either that or suffer the between-hymn awkwardness of knowing that the two people sitting next to you are quietly thinking “Wow, he really can’t sing. We’re so not friends after this.” That was, until the end of mass and HAIL TO SAINT WILFRID CAME ON. I’m not quite sure how it came about, maybe because it was always the last song and it meant we got to go to the fair in like 5 minutes, but it was belted out like the national anthem by everyone. At least for the first couple of verses, then people kind of didn’t really know the lyrics, the testosterone wore off and people started to feel a little bit embarrassed.

I’ll conclude part II with a harrowing tale I’d like to share with you. I started ‘noticing’ the opposite gender (wink wink nudge nudge) pretty much as soon as I came to Wilfs. I mean, the field of play increases 10-fold from primary and everybody’s hormones start to go ape shit so it’s fairly inevitable. Anyway, because I was an absolute stud – with my stupid spiky hair and my 7 stone twig-like physique – I had what I thought counted as a ‘girlfriend’ by the first Valentine’s Day of high school, 2007. Basically we used to sit next to each other on the bus and conversed solely by MSN… so we were practically married in year 7 terms. I bought her chocolates, because my middle name is original, but I was so panicky and nervous I avoided her all day (don’t ask me how I got home) and ended up not giving her the chocolates… And so… I ate them. Myself. I can never remember exactly how that pseudo-relationship ended, but that was probably it.

Cheers for reading! Seems like I only got through year 7, Part III awaits…

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