One little addendum; an appendix, if you will.

I don’t normally write anything serious or of note in my blog and I think this is why.

Put simply, I’m not very good at it.

I’m prone to exaggeration and over inflation to make a story more interesting, which I think is grand. But it does mean it is no longer necessarily very truthful. It is never done intentionally, but my life is quite dull and as such needs a bit of spicing up, otherwise even my one or two readers would give up.

As such, this week’s blog has involved some real life people, who quite understandably feel that I have portrayed them, or the circumstance, poorly. You have to remember that I have a ridiculously big mouth and never  think before I speak (or type, come to that). It is something I have to work on, or I will spend the rest of my life adding a little addendum here and an appendix there. So here I am to try to set things straight.

I stand by what I said in the main, but I feel that I could have been fairer and less biased about the way I put it.

When I arrived at Beaconsfield High, I felt very vulnerable. I’m sure it meant nothing to any of the people at the school, but I was so cripplingly conscious that they had all passed an exam that I had failed and as such were all heaps more intelligent than I was. If nothing else, I knew they had all had five years of far better education than I had. I was out of my comfort zone, big time. At my secondary school I had been seen as a fairly hard worker and quite bright; here, I really had to graft. I remember my mum telling when I failed my 11+ that it’s better to be the king of the shit than the shit of the kings and that phrase has never really left me.

I was made to feel even more of an average Jo(e) in my first English lesson; the teacher told us that she wanted to get an idea of the class, so if we could all stand up one by one and tell everyone our GCSE grades. Before I went there, I was very proud that I had managed to get two A grades (even if one was in PE.) But suddenly I was in a world where everyone had A*s and As. I had to work so hard to get my English up to the standard of the class in the first term; I really wanted to do it, but it was hard.

To try to cover up the fact that everyone else had learnt about iambic pentameter and feet at GCSE and I barely understood the difference between a simile and a metaphor, I made it seem like I was happy to be the idiot. I didn’t mind being the fool who didn’t quite understand stuff. It wasn’t me being difficult, I just didn’t like people to think I was trying really hard and still wasn’t good enough.

None of this was the fault of Beaconsfield High, or Wye Valley come to that; it was just a result of the tripartite system. I was very happy at Wye Valley, but that is because it was the first experience I had. I thought that was what all schools were like. I didn’t realise that arm wrestling with a teacher was not a usual, or productive, English lesson. We all had a really informal relationship with our teachers, so going to a school where we spoke when we were spoken to and stood up when the bell rang, waiting to be dismissed by teachers was very foreign. If I had gone to Becky High first, I would have found that the norm.

Preferring one school’s ethos to another is not a big thing and not something that should ever be an issue. I think the self-consciousness about my own intelligence or worthiness is something that is an issue. But as I said, that is not the fault of the school, just the antiquated system I was schooled in and I let that affect my judgement of the school. I found it very foreign to be in a school that tried so hard to emulate the private system, but really why wouldn’t they? They seem to have got it right. They get the grades. If you can achieve that without paying for it, why not? But that is where my issue lay yesterday; it is not the amount that the school were asking for from the parents – £10 a week is not a massive amount of money. It is the principle. It is not a fee paying school. For those that can afford it, it is not an issue. But for those who can’t, it is a real ask and something that could make them feel truly uncomfortable, which is what upsets me.

My inferiority complex told me that they might have the grades, but I was more developed as a person. That’s not true, but I don’ t like to think I have failed in anything. So I like to think that going to Wye Valley was the right option for me. Of course, my sister went to a grammar school and did not cope with the pressure one bit, so I think my mum was secretly delighted that I was going somewhere else.

When I went to a school that was so dedicated to pushing their girls, rather than letting them do stuff if they wanted like I was used to, I found it a bit strange. But that should not and does not detract from the fact I had a lovely time at Becky High. The reason for that was all my lovely friends. I remember going on the induction day and being befriended by a lovely girl called Harriet, who introduced me to all her lovely friends. She then came and found me on my first day to reintroduce herself to me and took me under her wing. I have never been so grateful for someones kindness, but I’ve never thought to say it.

That group of girls were all really great people; they welcomed me into their group like I had never not been there. I have so many great memories with them; buying Millie a prosthetic leg, going to see Dave Gorman in Watford, walking to One Stop every day, writing poems around everyone’s name, going to see Busted(!) and just generally having fun. They made going to school brilliant fun.

Despite going off to university, I am still friends with most of these people who were so kind to me. They gave me a lifeline and let me forget for a time that I didn’t feel like I deserved to be there, or belonged. I hope this kind of explains how I felt and why I felt that way; please don’t see it as a slur against you or your experiences. I spoke rashly and it was not the school’s fault, but at the time, I saw it that way. Please find it in you to understand me, even if you think I’m totally barmy. I know how ridiculous all those feelings of uselessness were and their effect on me was crippling. But hey, Beaconsfield High did the best job of preparing me for uni; I went into my first year lectures and seminars understanding what they were talking about and even feeling like I knew a little more. This is definitely not something I would have got if I had stayed at Wye Valley. My two years of hard graft were well worth it because they made the transition to university so much smoother.

That’s all folks.

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