There is a lot of talk these days about bullying at school. I just, for example, read a story in my local paper about an actress from Beverley who recounts her experiences of bullying. Was anyone not bullied at school?
Looking back, I recall the cruelty of other kids too. We moved from west Hull to Willerby – a far posher place, when I was 9 or 10 and feelt very out of place. I was different too. I wore my heart on my sleeve, I was interested in ghosts, occultism, spirituality and uninterested in sports. I loved music (still do) and followed T.Rex long after that was considered cool. I self taught to play guitar and was always in a band of some sort. Somehow this combination attracted the derision of a certain element of my fellow pupils. It was sort of psychological warfare really.
There were of course those few times when I was physically attacked. Usually at the school gates where a knowing crowd would have accumulated to watch Vasey get it. I recall the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I sensed that crowd was there to watch me get beaten. I never hit back. I just took it and left. What was the point and what did it prove? Nothing.
Looking back, it seems to me that other kids detested my joy of life. They found my innocence and interest in things somehow challenging. However, I don’t want to make out that I was consistently bullied. I wasn’t. I know others that were. Just, I experienced how cruel kids can be. Now I understand, it was jealousy and fear that provoked these reactions. Make fun of something you fear and get even with someone who seems to have something you want.
I didn’t enjoy my school years. I was pleased to get away at 18 and go to College where I could make a new start free of the prejudices and history that clouded my school days. I never looked back once I escaped and I often wonder who I would have turned out to be had I stayed in the area surrounded by that prejudice and negativity? These are energies that have an impact.
The funny thing is that those prejudices were not limited to my fellow pupils but actually included one or two teachers. As long as I live, I will never forget the laughter of my ex-Chemistry master when I told him I had gained a first class honours degree. I was visiting the school to see my old geology master and let him know that I had succeeded largely thanks to his love of Geology and infectious teaching abilities. I remember how the Chemistry teacher’s laughter faded slowly away to be replaced by reddened cheeks as he realized I was serious. He made a quick exit, but with teachers like that, no wonder kids sometimes cannot succeed.
I suppose though, looking back, that I should thank those other kids that thought me odd and baited me about it. In the end, I found a self confidence inside of myself that in part, was a reaction to their psychological belittling and fun making. I saw it for what it was and I used it as fuel for personal growth.
Often when talking to friends they say they wish that they could go back in time to their school days when they were happy. I shudder and I tell them you can keep your school days. I hated that time of my life. I am happy in the here and now and this is where I want to and should be. Right here, where I am because all is as it should be.
Me – in the school play….. circa 1973?