My Mum has just moved house, this meant I had to go up into the loft and sort through the 2 boxes I told her I had up there. In fact, I had almost convinced myself there were only 2 boxes of my stuff up there. I was almost as surprised as her to find 6 boxes, 3 bags and a tray up there.
But, my goodness, there were some treasures: photos and medals from my Grandfather’s service with the RAF before, during and after the war.
Photographs of my Father as a boy (bottom right) and even his blazer from King George Fifth School in Southport.
A vinyl copy of Now That’s What I Call Music 4.
But there were also old school reports of mine.
I wasn’t a terribly good student, in fact, although I could read, I didn’t really bother until about the age of 12, when Mum and Dad had to go to a meeting at school about my lack of engagement, the rather inspired teacher knew I loved football so suggested they started getting Shoot!! Magazine. I have barely stopped reading since (although I have left Shoot!! behind), even a cereal packet will do, sometimes an operating instructions manual – just going to prove I’m not a real man, which man admits to reading instruction manuals??
Noting this lack of engagement (not laziness) I received some extra tutoring and then took the Common Entrance for Brighton College. No one was more surprised than me when I passed, so off I went. People tell me it has changed beyond all recognition and it is one of the best schools in the country now, which tells you all you need to know about how I got in when I did.
We weren’t a natural fit, Brighton College and I, some teacher’s engaged me and got the best out of me, I think it is no coincidence that they were sports teachers who also taught academic subjects. I think of Messrs Stainton-James, Silk and Orton as the best teachers I had.
So, up in the loft, I found my leaving report and the report from the English teacher was telling:
“Despite his obviously limited writing style, he should just do enough to scrape a pass”
Inspirational words. Oh how they have driven me on to succeed. I’ll show him I thought.
Actually, not a bit of it. I hadn’t thought about it again until this week.
I would love to be able to say that I have contacted this teacher to say that I have developed my own obviously limited writing style to a point where it actually seems people want to read it.
But I can’t, because I have no recollection of him, his name or even being in one of his lessons. And I couldn’t read his writing.
So, in this exam season, some will do well, some will do badly and some will continue to do their own thing all the way into adulthood and beyond with a gentle nudge from parents and loved ones. Everyone has their own style, some won’t have it knocked out by the educational system – we need poets, we need musicians, we need writers, we need free thinkers, we need kindness and putting others first. We need people who would rather get muddy and learn a job by doing it, not by being taught it from a text book. We need shelf-stackers who do that job to the best of their ability whilst learning to act or because it is the very best job they can do.
Sorry, I started to rant.
Anyway, I showed that teacher. I didn’t do enough to scape a pass. I failed.
I didn’t, I passed, but in the whole scheme of things, it has not affected my life one little bit.
I still read and I still write. I win.