Surviving secondary school
For seven years – from ages 11 to 18 – I attended Sandringham School in the St Albans district of Marshalswick, Hertfordshire. It was a strange experience, both enlightening and full of opportunities and experiences, and equally soul destroying. It was the last environment in my life that would offer the right stimulants for my creativity, which waned and died once I left and went to university.
Growing up in the south-east of England with a Brummy father and a Yorkshire mother, I gained something of a mixed yet neutral accent, and one that remains somewhat incongruent with that of my peers. Allegedly, my sister and I sounded posh to other kids at school, presumably owing to having a weaker accent than they, and perhaps because we pronounced words properly without missing out half the letters.
A group of kids came up to me outside one day with a simple request:
Say To a southerner such as themselves, this would be pronounced like
barsketball (like a bar in a pub); to a midlander or a northerner, it would be said with a short
a sound, similar to a North American accent. The kids were trying to catch me out, knowing that I would pronounce it differently to them and thus they could point and laugh.
So I said
barsketball. Just like they had. They looked at me a bit nonplussed and crestfallen, then walked away. I had outsmarted them and stolen their laugh. Sucks to be a cruel kid eh?
Incidentally, another way to take the wind out of the sails of kids looking for a laugh was to impersonate Mr Spock. It seems that there is nothing more confusing than having your unkind conversation met with emotionless logic. Fortunately the school was not violent else I would have been beaten to death anyway.
Sometimes you encounter the most bizarre. Even before you grow your hair. I was talking outside once with a friend who looked even more nerdy than I, about extended and expanded memory in computers (those of you whose memories don’t stretch back to the DOS days, oh ye be glad). For those newcomers who aren’t aware of how old PC memory worked and the two standards for adding memory above 640 kilobytes, please consult your local historian. Not that we needed more than 640 kB anyway.
Anyhow, a rather unsavoury girl from my year overheard our conversation and proceeded to exclaim to everyone in a loud voice,
Ugh! They’re talking about their dicks extending and expanding! Charming.
During what I presume was a maths lesson one day, everyone was evacuated from the maths block into the adjacent school hall; apparently someone had planted a bomb in the maths block. Note that the school hall had a wall of glass facing the maths block. We were protected from the impending explosion by a few yards and many square feet of prospective shards of glass.
Fortunately, someone decided to draw the curtains, which would hopefully have trapped the glass. Unfortunately, there was no bomb. It had been a hoax. We nearly had someone blow up our maths block. Nearly. But not quite. Pity. Never mind.