More memories from my short and uneventful past.
At the beginning of Year 7 (first year of secondary school) I was a fresh faced young eleven year old. I had spent the majority of my primary school years in an extremely small (20 pupils) Welsh school. However I had gone to the local primary school for Year 6, thus had a few friends from there.
Being a well brought up child, especially from a Christian family it meant that I usually followed the rules, kept up with work and was generally good. However that often meant that I was left out of some potentially ‘cool’ games/conversations/jokes.
Kids in school soon caught on to the fact that I was quite an easy character to pick on. To start with I was quiet and nice, someone who wouldn’t usually talk back – perfect material for some friendly neighbourhood bullying.
I was also at that stage in puberty when one’s limbs are a lot longer than the rest of one’s body. My arms and especially my legs were ridiculously long. It didn’t help that on the first day of school, I decided that my school bag was to be a Reebok shoulder strap thing. The only problem was that the strap was extremely long. So long in fact that it often slipped down to around the height of my knees and I would have to fling it around with my arms and legs in order to stop it from tripping me over. This constant flinging movement, along with my lanky physique soon gave rise to the nickname ‘Thunderbirds Boy’. Suggesting that I walked like one of the puppets from the mid-1960s television show. See here.
Amongst other smaller issues, I told myself that the main problem was that I was rather different to ‘the in gang’. I wasn’t out of the in gang, I hung out with mostly ‘cool’ people. It’s just that I wasn’t ‘wicked’ or ‘hip’ enough for them to respect me.
Many lunchtimes were spent happily with the pack lunch crew, many of whom I am still friends with. Hours spent discussing X-Men comics and various other nerdy issues made me very happy. But the majority of my time was unwisely spent away from these far friendlier peers.
I remember walking home with one such gangsta wannabee, when he was approached by an extremely cool guy, ‘Jervaine’ from a few years above us. It was relatively unheard of for such Hampstead School royalty to be talking to us younger ones, so all were eager to make a good impression when the occasion took place. Jervaine approached us, offering to create a mix tape with any suggested rap and garage tracks on it. Then to my horror, and their delight he suggested to me if I would like it if he compiled a tape of some classical music! I hadn’t even opened my mouth! It was simply the fact that I had a nice little white boy face.
“I need a plan of action here, maybe if I get into the music that they all like, I can talk to them about it” It seemed everyone else was listening to it, so why couldn’t I? It was time to get into that hip-hop and that garage and that r&b and that grime. When I arrived home I dashed to my parents’ bedroom, switched on the radio and scanned the airwaves away from Radio 2 on to anything vaguely Urban sounding. I soon reached what I was looking for; ‘Y2K FM’. This was the answer – all I needed to do was listen to this for a certain amount of time everyday and I’d finally be accepted.
I lied back on the bed and desperately strained to find any redeeming qualities to this genre of music. These were kids who’d got hold of a keyboard, some decks and a cheap laptop and were shouting their lyrical opinions all over the shop.
Those five minutes I spent listening to that music felt like 5 hours. This was not me. This was not cool. This was not fun. It was no use, I’d never be respected for my knowledge of rappers or who they’d killed.
Another incident that stood in my mind as particularly painful, was what started out as a normal break time. A bunch of us year sevens stand around the playground, occasionally punching each other, telling dirty jokes and making fun of people. I was happy to just be standing there – not really bringing anything to the table but nevertheless willing to stand there. All of a sudden everyone stops talking. I look around. At that moment the 20 odd people who were standing in that pack of lads all ran away. Leaving me – skinny-chubby-white-lanky-weirdo-child, stood in the middle of the playground, on my own. Things get to you when you’re that age, as I’m sure they would at any age for that matter; but one just persists in getting on with life. It wasn’t all bad – at least I had friends… sort of.