Welcome…take a seat and grab a coffee…its gonna be a bumpy ride….
So just lately I seem to be in touch with a few people I went to High School with thanks to good old Facebook. I did at one time have a slight flutter with Friends Reunited but I just seemed to attract all the weirdo’s from way back in’t day on there. When it was announced that it was to be discontinued a few months back, did I imagine the sigh of relief across the country? Now I can choose to have past friends and acquaintances back in my life. Believe me there are some that have sent me requests and have been firmly refused *shudder* I’ve heard some real horror stories…
I guess I should come clean and say that my High School days did not contain my finest moments. I had a very sweet/sour experience…and unlike some I wouldn’t go back for all the wine boxes in Sainsburys….
I’m like everyone else and I can look back to being around 14 or 15 years old and remember the music and the fashions and laugh, sigh and sometimes almost spontaneously combust with excitement if I’m reminded of back then and I have a good audience to play to. I find it surprising how many harp on back to ‘The Good Old Days’ but when you point out the bad bits along with the good they don’t like it and say they don’t remember any bullying and bad behaviour. I don’t mean the naughty ‘high jinks’ stuff we all used to run around doing like knock and run, I mean the stuff that was done to actually physically and mentally hurt others.
This week though I’ve been reminded of some of the more awkward and difficult times. The starting point came after a shared statement on Social Media about sexuality.
Nowadays most people are (or want to appear as) supportive towards teenagers growing and developing their own opinions and now as adults they mainly accept the place of LGBT in society.
If you are my age or older, you know this wasn’t always so…
Are you ready for this? Let me take you down my time tunnel to a High School in a West Yorkshire mill town in the mid to late 1970’s.
**make a spooky being sucked down a hole noise here**
I was what was charmingly termed by adults of that time as an ‘early developer’…..at 14 I was stick thin with ample sized boobs. Remember that most heterosexual 14 year old boys get excited about ANY size of boobs no matter what era they are from.
There always seemed to be comment about it, amazingly from the girls as well as boys. As an adult I can see this was probably due to the fact they didn’t have such nice boobs and wanted to impress everyone by being the most popular mouthpieces. It seemed to be that if you took care of your appearance and boys took notice , then you were a ‘slag’…and if the wrong kind of other girls noticed you did it better than they did then you were ‘a slag’ even more…
I had many occasions of being asked out by lads, only to quickly find myself fighting off their fumbling advances, often being grudging told ‘but you did it with ****’ (all lies by the way….just to set the record straight!) It’s now amusing, but it was frightening at the time, to remember being followed home and stoned all the way by a disgruntled lad who didn’t get his way in a dark corner of the youth club… odd that he married a rather nice sensible girl I knew straight out of school…
Another time I was walking through a ginnel near some shops and a group of 5 or 6 lads from the year below me at school passed me and as they pushed and jostled me between the walls one of them squeezed my boob….. This 13 year old took on almost celebratory status among his mates. Within the week the chinese whisperers had it that he’d consensually ‘felt me up’ in front of all his mates..
I was just too shown up and embarrassed to make any reasonable defence against them. Today I’d hope any 15 year old girl in that kind of position would whistle blow straight away…..and I hope the lad now he’s grown- if he has daughters he’s scared shit less because he remembers HIS behaviour !!
I remember girls back then being so contradictory that my head would spin. I was ‘Best Mates’ with a girl from the street I lived on for about two years. At 15 I had a boyfriend stupidly known as ‘Killer’ (wonder what happened to him, I’ve seen more ‘killer’ looking goats…lol), looking back he was a drip, but as teens do we fell out. He asked my best mate out, she said yes. He kept sneaking back along the road onto my house pestering me to go back out with him. So …I did the ‘grown up’ thing and told her because he was making a fool of her…WRONG!! Oh boy did that blow up in my face! You see my friend was one of the ‘hard’ ones – the one who if you didn’t do as she said she’d get violent and push you around a bit. So when she loudly proclaimed me as jealous and trying to split them up all the other girls who were fond of their faces and hair agreed…as did all the ones who were a bit bitchy and jealous of anyone else who breathed. The boys would join in with the more popular girls and cat call and mock . I suffered scenes like one girl cornering me and saying ‘Ive heard you fancy my boyfriend’… frightened of her and her cronies I whispered ‘No, I don’t even like him’….for that I got some rough shoving around for ‘not liking her boyfriend’….It’s hardly surprising I distanced myself from my peer group in that last year of school.
You know though , I had it easy compared to the ones who were ‘different’. The ones labelled as ‘lezzies’ ‘bummers’ and ‘homos’
You had only to raise your eyes in the changing rooms to be accused by some of looking at their breasts, or someone elses breasts. I even witnessed one girl with just her ‘speed bumps’ showing get to be ridiculed and made to lower her towel and show them because she was self conscious and trying to hide.
To me though it seemed the boys had it worse. Tales of who would try ‘bumming’ in the PE showers…little underdeveloped quiet lads who were ridiculed, had their towels and underwear pinched etc etc….it was bullying in the extreme and its one of the reasons I’m such an ambassador for Anti Bullying today, in fact all of the above is.
I can’t count how many times my Mum would say ‘you not going out?’ and I’d just smile and settle back on my bed with my book or lock myself away and play my records. I was ok. I’d never tell or complain, that was just, well, it just wasn’t done.
I’m not saying that it was constantly like this for me…I’m just pointing out that for some it was.
I think I finally grew into my skin and learned to love myself for myself at around 19/20….and Ive never looked back. Confidence is a beautiful thing. It gives you power.
My 16 year old Hairy Cave Teen ‘s escapades quite often make me chuckle. His High School experiences have been so vastly different to my own. He has a fabulous group of friends both male & female and the way they are all supportive and accepting makes me smile. These kids seem to embrace the differences between each other. Its really nice and gives me a warm fuzzy feeling that’s nothing to do with my glass of wine Ha!
He gave me a reminder of my ‘musical youth’ He went to Manchester Academy this week with three mates to see a favourite band , Enter Shikari.
In High School I went to see ‘Kenny’ at Dewsbury Town Hall (remember the song? ‘The Bump’)…and going to Batley Variety Club to see both Showaddywaddy and The Drifters were highlights of my teens. This is Top Secret from my kids…..but by almost the end of high school I’d taken to going to The Poacher and The John F Kennedy pubs in the town centre with new, older friends that surprisingly are still good mates of mine, because by then I suppose I started to CHOOSE who I hung around with. Once again I’m not saying every decision I made was a good one, but at least I was among friends.
Last week as the HCT went off to a party I agreed with most of my close mates that it doesn’t do to remember what went on at parties YOU went to at 16 or you wouldn’t let them out of the house….
Im going to end this by sharing that some really lovely people are back in touch recently. One friend is still beautiful…still married to her high school boyfriend and still as lovely as I remember xx
Another friend that I actually went through Junior school and High School with has turned up…a bit like me, dog eared on the corners but scrubs up well and has a fighting spirit to set the world to right xx
..and two old school mates who I have seen blossom from a fledgling romance to a full scale relationship that it’s been such an absolute pleasure to watch it unfold on Facebook.
Lesson to take away this week..?
Be kind, always …and you’re never too old for love & romance