“I once was blind, but now I see…”

It’s like the night before Christmas for young Ollie, only tomorrow is not Christmas day – it’s the first day of “Big School”…

Its been looming on the horizon for weeks now and after the fun, games and dramas of the holidays finally ended, he will go from being a big fish in a small school, to being a small fish in a big school. It hadn’t really hit him until today and to be fair, his mother and I were possibly more nervous about this change that he appeared to be. At least that was the message we would have liked us to carry on believing…

Today he let his guard down and we had some deep conversations about the whole thing and what he really thought about it. Nervous, scared, excited – all words used to describe what he was feeling. And we have all been there, We have all made the transition. Some of us will have taken to it like ducks to water, others perhaps not so…

My own school days were a mixed bag. Things were different for us in so many ways. Ollie still can not get his head around the fact I grew up in an age that saw only 4 channels on the TV. An age where the internet was a close guarded secret in some geeks head and mobile phones were only seen on Minder and even then, Arthur Daley’s was the size of a tank!

The objective of my school days was survival. Pure and simple, there was nothing like the protection that appears to surround kids nowadays – bullying was rife, as was racism. The school yard was a minefield where only the ultra popular survived – anything less and you were targeted and attacked. A lot of it stemmed from the football club you followed.  Leeds United were hated much more back then and being one of only 4 supporters in my year made things difficult to say the least…

There were good points and highlights of course, for example, Amanda Ambler will never be forgotten, even if she was just a crush I had (she was going out with a friend all through school) –  The school football trip to Holland was my only trip out of the UK pre the age of 16 and that was fun. I made some good friends, but sadly I lost touch and was never one for the whole Friends reunited thing. It was a far cry from today’s facebook youth…

The other side of things included the quality of the teachers. Hit and miss is a fair summary I think. So much so that most blend into a mist of nothingness and only a couple of characters stand out. For example, Whilst no-one messed with  Mr Woodcock (or balsa balls as he was known), Miss Goldsborough was weak and emotional, someone who the hard nuts of the year had no issue in exploiting…

It took a while, but in the end, I can look back and smile at my school days. I bear a couple of grudges against individuals, but on the whole I think I got a rounded education. I could have done better according to my reports and I could have paid more attention in class or not messed around as much. Yet had I not found a niche as class clown, the bullies may have won the day and things may not have turned out how they did.  In the end, I was offered a job at 16 and I grabbed it – that saw me in full time employment for 10 years and not too many of the graduates could boast the same…

My hopes for Ollie are high. He is a clever kid (gets it from his mum before you say) and with a bit of hard work and a strong wind behind him, he can get through school and come out of it in a much better position that I did. His opportunities are limited to his own imagination and whilst he has no clear idea of what he wants to do, I don’t think that’s in anyway a bad thing. I’m just hoping Ollie adjusts and finds his feet quickly -because as a parent, I am now feeling pretty helpless. As Mr Finn may say “Fly or fall, its his call”!
Today’s song comes from the amazing Nick Cave – its called “O Children” which is the only link to this blog – tenuous I know – Nick Cave has done some stunning dark and depressing work – but manages to make some of it uplifting at the same time. That’s no mean feat in my book!
Enjoy
Cheers
J

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