Archive for the ‘life’ Category


The middle tier at school was easy. The tests for the top tier were easy. Life in the top tier is so different. Everything seems harder to learn, more intense. I’m struggling to take it all in, to understand what is happening, what is expected of me. Maths is especially difficult. Algebra make no sense at all. I’m lost in a sea of knowledge and learning. I don’t know who to turn to or where to go. I don’t want to be at school anymore. I wish I hadn’t passed the tests.


Teaching in the 70s and 80s at state run schools in the North of England was a vastly different experience to the ones I read and hear about today. Teachers were in charge and they let you know it. We called them sir or miss, no names to ensure there was an invisible barrier between us that we could not cross. Yes the teachers were in charge and they let us know it. I remember one teacher who would trip you up if you ran down the corridor and simply say ‘don’t run boy’ as you lifted your face off the floor. Another teacher would hit you over the head with a piece of wood covered by a newspaper and when you asked him why he did it he replied ‘because I can’. One incident I remember is being in maths and the lad behind me was talking so the teacher threw the board rubber at him which bounced off the desk and smashed the window. The teacher just pointed at him and said ‘that’s your fault boy’! and it wasn’t worth going home and complaining to your parents because you just got a clip round the ear and told to behave yourself if you did. There were plenty of other experiences that I have forgotten now and a lot of the teachers were very nice and didn’t do anything they shouldn’t but it was a very different time and I’m glad I experienced it.


One of my favourite and most enduring childhood memories is of the long summer holidays. They couldn’t come quick enough and seem to last forever. The summer of 1976 is one that sticks in my mind as it was also the first time I had experienced a heatwave. The skies had been crystal clear blue since May that year and we couldn’t wait to finish school and be free from the classroom and play out and enjoy ourselves. Every day was a special day that year as we played football, went down the valley and messed about on my mates, dads truck. We were happy and carefree and had no idea of what life had in store for us. It was all about living in the moment and enjoying every moment. On one particular day my brother had come home from the army and everyone lost track of time. It was at least 10pm if not later before my mum realised I was still out and called me in to go to bed. Other years whilst not as warm were as long and as happy. The innocence of youth providing a protective barrier for all of us from the pain that life can sometimes bring and providing us with day after day of pure childlike pleasure. They were happy times, good times and I’d go back to them in a flash to relive them over and over again before the storm clouds arrived and it was back to school and the reality of life.


In the days before we had a party for every occasion we had just one, the Valentines Day disco and the one from 1978 at Holme Middle is one I will never forget for the wrong reasons. I was at the disco with Mark and everybody was dancing, drinking pop and pairing up. I went over to a girl, a really nice girl and asked her for a dance. She looked at me and said no, just like that. I felt gutted. Rejected at an early age and little did I know it would set a pattern for me and the fairer sex although I didn’t know it at the time. I think I just went and sat down somewhere and had some pop wondering why she was dancing with everybody else but said no to me. I don’t remember any other parties although I’m sure there was but this one I do remember for all the wrong reasons but that’s life and sometimes we learn lessons at an early age that only have meaning later on in life when we have gained experience and have time to reflect on what has happened to us and give us an understanding as to why things happened the way they did.


It’s January 1977 and I’m on a school trip to Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales. Like many kids journeys when you was younger seem to be much further away and take much longer than when you grow up and the world seems to shrink around you. I remember this trip well as it was one of the first school trips I went on. We went down Capnut cave which I remember for the freezing cold water pouring over the top of my wellies and onto my feet turning them from red hot to ice cold in an instant. One of the teachers Mr Exely had to carry one girl out of the cave as she couldn’t stand her feet being cold and wet. Another instance was when we stopped up late one night in the hostel thinking we were the biggest rebels who had ever lived! We were all playing games until we heard a noise at the window and looked out to see the teachers there coming back from the pub very drunk with a large case of beer in their arms! They said that if we didn’t tell on them for coming back late they wouldn’t tell on us for stopping up late. Of course being young kids we were scared stiff of getting into trouble so said nothing to anyone not realising until later on in life that the teachers would have got into far more trouble than we would have done! the most memorable incident though was when we walked up Ingleborough in snowy and icy conditions over 20ft snow drifts wearing nothing more than a jumper, jacket, jeans and Doc Martens. We got to the top and Mr Exely told us to hold hands. When we asked why he said that Gaping Gill the deepest pothole in Europe was somewhere around and he didn’t want anyone to fall down it! That was health and safety in 1977!


I still remember the very first time I saw Mark Holdsworth at Holme Middle. It was in the playground and Mark was leaning back against the railings that went around the school in his school uniform wearing a pair of Doc Martens surrounded by other kids. He seemed very popular and I remember thinking how I wished I could have a friend like Mark and be popular with kids to talk to and play with all the time. I can’t remember the first time I spoke to him, but we did, and we clicked too as we’re still friends I what must be forty years on from that moment. After that meeting, we were at each other’s houses, playing down the valley, down the woods and on Black Hill. We were pretty much inseparable, and Mark introduced me to other people, some of whom are still my friends and others who drifted away as time went on. These were good times, fun times, times when life is perfect because you don’t understand the world and what is going on in it.


I still remember two people from my early days at Holme Middle. One is a lad called Thomas. He was mixed race, what we called half caste at the time although it must be remembered that we quite often used terminology without understanding it and there wasn’t the awareness back then that there is now. Thomas lived in the children’s home on the other side of the valley. I don’t know the circumstances of why he was in the children’s home and never asked him. The children’s home was the biggest house on the estate and stood out because of this. I can’t remember anyone thinking any differently of the children from the home, they were just kids like us. I started hanging around with Thomas and he started coming back to my house. This ended when my mum caught him stealing money from her purse. I never saw Thomas again. Another lad whose name I can’t remember stood out because he dressed in a more feminine way. It didn’t bother me or anyone else, not in the way it seems to do in today’s society. He was a nice kid and we never said a bad word to each other. I met him again many years later. I was collecting loans on an estate and he lived in a flat there. He’d had a sex change and was engaged to a man who loved him. I was really happy for him. Despite growing up at a time when it was perceived that acceptance of difference was less tolerant he’d trod his own path and become the person he always wanted to be and believed he was, and he’d found love as well which is a very special thing indeed.


It’s September 1976 and the start of a new school year at a new school, Holme Middle. It’s further away than Holmefield First but not by much and I enjoy walking to and from school. Some of my friends from Holmefield First have gone to different schools and I will never see them again, but I make new friends here playing games in the school yard and in lessons. It’s a great start to a new chapter in my life, one without any cares, worries or stresses, one where I can be me and no-one else and live a carefree, happy life. Looking back this could be the last time I felt like this for so long without the changes that growing up is and the stresses and pressures that come with the change of age. With a new school comes new teachers and one of the first to make an impression on me was an elderly gent, probably approaching retirement but one of the nicest teachers I knew. I can’t remember his name now but I do remember that he was kind and knew how to get the best out of you and always had time for you. He drove a Triumph 2500 which at the time was one of the best cars on the market and I loved it! I remember wishing I had one every day I saw it.


It’s September 1976 and the start of a new school year at a new school, Holme Middle. It’s further away than Holmefield First but not by much and I enjoy walking to and from school. Some of my friends from Holmefield First have gone to different schools and I will never see them again, but I make new friends here playing games in the school yard and in lessons. It’s a great start to a new chapter in my life, one without any cares, worries or stresses, one where I can be me and no-one else and live a carefree, happy life. Looking back this could be the last time I felt like this for so long without the changes that growing up is and the stresses and pressures that come with the change of age. With a new school comes new teachers and one of the first to make an impression on me was an elderly gent, probably approaching retirement but one of the nicest teachers I knew. I can’t remember his name now but I do remember that he was kind and knew how to get the best out of you and always had time for you. He drove a Triumph 2500 which at the time was one of the best cars on the market and I loved it! I remember wishing I had one every day I saw it.


I’ll always remember Mark Lloyds dad. He was a big man and scary too. Nobody messed with him and I never saw anyone speak to him, ever. He went to work and came home and that was it. I was friends with Mark for a time and I went inside his house. He had an end house so had a bigger garden then the other houses. It was nice and tidy and Mark’s mum was friendly and talkative, the complete opposite of his dad. I remember once Mark and me were playing outside my house and his dad came walking up the street towards us. As he got closer he asked me to leave as he had something he wanted to say to Mark. Instead of going inside as anyone normally would I opened the garden gate and walked down to the valley! I’ve no idea why I did this as it would have been the accepted thing to walk inside my house but no, I decided to go off in a completely unexpected direction. I can imagine Mark and his dad watching me now wondering what I was doing and why. Having said that I could never work out what the attraction was for Mark’s mum to his dad but life can be strange like that. I might have seen Mark after that but I can’t remember if I did for certain. Life can be strange life that.