Tales from secondary school

I often reminisce with Mike and Goodwin about stories from our secondary school days and I realised that I have so many anecdotes that I’ve never written down anywhere, so I’m going to use this article to keep a note of them.

Lower your expectations
I always enjoy making people laugh, but back in school I was also quite shy, so I never really used to make jokes for the whole class to hear. The one time I did though, it was a very proud moment and I was so pleased I did. It was in careers class in sixth form and the teacher was asking us questions about university. One question he asked was, “What do you do if you get to university and it’s not what you expected?”
Quick as a flash, I quipped, “Lower your expectations.”
The whole class laughed, including the teacher! I was so pleased.

Would you prefer to stand?
It wasn’t just me who had success with jokes in class. My friend, Goodwin, also made a legendary joke that we often recall. I think it was during sixth form and we were in Geography class. There was a teaching assistant in the room and she was sitting by us. The class was quite loud and not very well behaved. At one point she said to us, “I’m sick of sitting in classes where nobody does what they’re told!”
Goodwin turned to her and said, “Would you prefer to stand?”

I burst out laughing and the teacher in front of us laughed too. The teaching assistant looked astonished and Goodwin couldn’t help but laugh. I think it was because he’s always so polite and this was an uncharacteristic bit of cheekiness on his part. It was very funny though.

Playground fun
I used to like break time and lunch time, not only because I got to spend time with friends, but also because I had a few things that I liked to do. The one was to purposely direct someone in the wrong place. Because there was a little group of people that I hung around with, I’d often get people come up to me asking, “Have you seen [someone]?”
The one time I decided to lie and say “Yeah, he went over there by the trees.”
I then watched the person walk all the way over to the other side of the playground, look around confused, then come all the way back to me and tell me they couldn’t find them. Now, I know it was a pretty mean thing to do, but I used to get a lot of fun out of it, so I did it quite a few times.

Another thing I used to do, often with Mike, was to commentate on the teachers’ behaviours. There would often be a few teachers in the playground and most of the time they’d stand together and talk, so we used to commentate on what we thought they were doing, but with silly ideas. So for example, if one teacher showed the other a piece of paper, we’d say, “He’s got a list of children he wants to kill.”
Or if two teachers were talking and then they went off separately, we’d say, “Oh, they’ve had a falling out, he found out she was cheating on him with another teacher and now they’ve got a divorce.”

A natural high

Now and then we would get charitable organisations come into the school to give talks on different topics. The one I remember most is a guy who came in called David Graham. He told his story about overcoming drug abuse and then he sung a song he’d written called Natural High. This is him singing the song at another school:

After the song, he set a little competition. We had to come up with a slogan for an anti-drugs campaign. I came up with one that I was quite pleased with – I can’t remember what it was now – and my friend next to me (again, can’t remember who) couldn’t think of one, so I wrote one for him as well. Later on, they announced the winner of the competition… me! I was chuffed. I went up onto the stage and got a bag with some anti-drug goodies in. Then they announced the three runner ups. And guess what, one of them was my friend! So essentially, I won twice. Obviously I didn’t say anything, but it was a funny coincidence.

Slapping good fun
I was never one of the popular ones in school, but I got on with everyone, including some of the ‘rough’ kids. There was one guy called Declan who I used to play a slapping game with. I think it started when he slapped me on the back of the head and I was ballsy enough to turn round and slap him back. Then for weeks we’d slap each other on the head whenever we could get away with it.

Although it sometimes hurt, it was fun, and he was one of the cool kids, so I liked that he chose me to do this with… and that I got to repeatedly hit one of the cool kids. The game eventually came to an end when he chose to slap me when I was having a bad day. He was sat behind me and slapped the back of my head. I turned round and said “not today”. He did it again and I just said “please stop.” He didn’t take the hint and slapped me again, so I jumped up, grabbed the table and threw it at him. He got the message and I established myself as someone who was actually quite dangerous if you p*ssed me off.

Form time with Andrew
During one of the years, our ‘form class’ (a short class every morning that didn’t really mean anything other than registration) was in the languages room, which had desks with computers built in. You pushed a button under the desk and the top of the desk opened up to reveal the computer. I was sat at the back of the class with my friend Andrew, who used to sneakily open up the computer and listen to songs on YouTube with his headphones in. I’d sometimes join him and Land of Confusion by Disturbed became a regular favourite.

I also remember playing a different slapping game with Andrew. Form class was very boring, so one day we decided to play ‘slaps’, which is basically where you both hold your hands out in front of you, with your hands together like you were praying, and you’d take it in turns to try and slap your opponent’s hands. They could move their hands away to block it, but if they moved before you slapped then they’d lose. It was a fun, if sometimes painful, game. The reason I remember it is because the one time we played it, Andrew went to slap me, I moved my hands away at just the right time and he full on slapped the wall with some force, bending his fingers back and really hurting his hand. So that was fun. For me.

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