Being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, was, let’s say … a bit of a challenge. School being one of the biggest. Not that I know an awful lot about the schooling system, as being perfectly honest, I was removed from primary school, as I wasn’t fitting in. I was then subsequently home schooled for a few years, until it was decided that, as my older sisters were doing well and fitting in at secondary school, I should be reintegrated into society. Without so much of a whisper of choice.
As I’m sure you can probably guess… it didn’t end well for me. Less than a year later I was removed due to being severely bullied, but more on that subject later.
I was a fresh, young, naïve boy of 12 years old starting year 7 of secondary school. Full of enthusiasm to meet my fellow students, already worried if I would stand out, or not fit in with the other kids in my year group, and like all kids of this age hoping to make some friends.
I vividly remember, my mother driving me up to the entrance of the school, in our green Nissan people carrier. I was perched on the edge of my seat, peering at this terrifying building through the tinted car window. After a few minutes it was explained to me that a friend of mine from the faith was joining secondary school along with me and he was to be along shortly. This eased my anxiety, as he too was from a large working-class family; we often spent time together at gatherings and kingdom hall meetings.
When he arrived we were directed to the reception of the school, and told by our mothers they would be back in a few hours or so to pick us up, as this was only an induction to the school. A kind of taster of things to come.
The next thing I remember is being herded like an animal into a line of casually dressed children, all waiting to have their pictures taken and be issued with their very own ID card. After standing in line for 20 minutes or so, I had a deep realisation, I did not fit in with this crowd at all!
It was there I heard the first person ever in my life, use the expression “Oi dickhead” shouted loudly across the line, followed by another lad replying “fuck you” simply terrifying. I remember being in a complete state of shock, not really knowing what these words meant. Trying to overlook this, I nervously started talking to the boy in front of me in the line, he introduced himself. The conversation started well, he said call me Ollie, we traded names. After a short while he pulled out his Nokia 3310 (believe it or not they were all the rage back then! You hadn’t lived until you had played snake during a particularly long Sunday morning sermon, by placing it on silent and hiding inside your coat, but anyway I digress) he began showing me explicit sexual images made entirely of symbols from the keypad. This is before we had picture messaging or mobile internet. I was shocked, mainly at the level of dedication some horny, despite teenage boy, that had probably never seen a pair of breasts in his life, had gone to, spending hours making penises and vagina’s out of hundreds of brackets,hashtags, full stops and well placed Y’S. If only they had put this level of dedication into their school work.
I left shortly after a teacher gave us a brief tour of the school in small groups (If you can call a tour being shown a bunch of empty classrooms) “How’d it go?” my mother asked “Not sure” I said feeling that the whole world had just opened up and swallowed me whole….