End of the school days

…Drawing silly doodles and trying to guess what each one was doing. We eventually went to sleep at around 4am, in the same bed, cuddling and kissing, but no sex…

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Caius college… a source of a great memory but disappointment

Devoid of much of a social life, with the lack of confidence in general interaction developed over the years of bullying, I was always a bit of a nerd at school. Still… I was pretty pleased with getting straight As in my A-Levels, though I messed up my Cambridge interviews – which I always look back on with a bit of regret. I went to a couple of open days at Cambridge colleges, and the one that I really liked was Gonville and Caius. Almost inevitably there was a girl involved. Rachel, if I remember correctly.

At the open day, we just hit it off. Got on so well with each other it was unbelievable. At the end of the day we had drinks and ended up chatting in the room she was staying in. Drawing silly doodles and trying to guess what each one was doing. We eventually went to sleep at around 4am, in the same bed, cuddling and kissing, but no sex…  But it was still great just being with her. Amazing smile. We went our separate ways and stayed in touch; both of us saying that we would apply to the same college… Which I tried to do but my school didn’t let me because a couple of other students were applying to the same one and they wanted to increase the chances of more students going to the university. I applied instead to another one that had a reputation for being much more academic. Three interviews there and I didn’t get accepted. Rachel applied to Caius and got in. Needless to say, it fizzled out between us and I often wonder, even though wondering about “what might have been” is a complete waste of time and energy… It stuck in the head.

So stuck with a second choice university (which my history teacher, probably seeing my scepticism, told me was great), I decided to take a gap year: go to Brazil. Kind of another new start, where literally nobody knew me, put everything behind me, enjoy the millennium over there; and I could get a completely new experience of life. Plus of course the stereotypical view of beautiful Brazilian women certainly appealed to me.

Virginity lost…

…Drunk, depressive, anxious about whether or not girls would like me… I guess I wasn’t the best company for my sisters but they put up with me….

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The Carleton… source of many a drunken night out…

With the new high school, I started going to nightclubs with my sisters and getting hideously drunk at them, and crying at the end when nobody made out with me before it closed. The one time I did make out with someone at a club when I was with them and I was so drunk I almost fell over with the girl in my arms and my tongue down her throat. She went on her own way after that, leaving me to stumble back to my table.

Drunk, depressive, anxious about whether or not girls would like me… I guess I wasn’t the best company for my sisters but they put up with me. I remember one time at a club with one sister and I was feeling a bit down and to cheer up she and her friends started singing “Cheer up sleepy Jean”, just replacing Jean with my name… That was at a New Years’ Eve party at The Carlton Nightclub in Morecambe… I remember the place but I can’t remember leaving; apparently I was pretty bad and throwing up everywhere, crying again.

But I digress… Neither was I great company when I wasn’t with my sisters. Once at a pub where almost everybody in the year went along for a night out, I decided to drink a small bottle of vodka beforehand to get in the mood, and continue drinking shots at the bar. I woke up the afternoon on the day after, hungover of course, with very little memory. Apparently my dad had to collect me from the hospital at 3am as I had collapsed and was found rolling on the grass drifting in and out of consciousness, moaning “take me to a fucking hospital”

Things started to pick up when I was 17 and a friend introduced me to a single girl who he knew: Kate. We got on well enough. It is so long ago now that it is difficult to remember so much, though we did end up making out and on the second date I lost my virginity to her. It wasn’t great. She stayed over at my place and slept in the loft (we had a loft conversion) and I was in a bedroom on the floor below. At 1am I snuck upstairs to be with her, trying to be quiet so as not to wake my parents (who were in the room directly beneath the loft area). The floor of her room did creak so when we were doing it, we had to be as quiet as possible. Plus there wasn’t so much headroom so there wasn’t really room to be very adventurous. All very awkward and not really very pleasant or fun, but still… first times rarely are really, no? The girl called me a couple of days later saying that she didn’t want a relationship – she was “hung up about her ex”, so I guess she didn’t really enjoy it either.

A final new start?

…ultimately the three years I spent at boarding school did help me in the end; seeing and experiencing how nasty kids could be to each other, without recourse to parents on a regular basis, and developing a little bit of “immunity” to it all…

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Sixth form at high school…

Going into my third and final high school, from 16 to 18 years old to study my A-Levels, I was getting better and crying much less frequently. The “new start” at this new school was considerably more successful than the previous one and I actually liked this new place and wasn’t terrified to go there every day. Not crying on my first day helped as well. The other students weren’t too embarrassed to be around me, which was a step up. I still wasn’t very confident and found it hard speaking much to people, and certainly impossible to really speak with girls (well to be honest, I wasn’t really confident speaking with anybody I didn’t really know, let alone just the girls).

I think I was kind of seen as a strange, quiet nerdy type of person, but I still got on with people in general. I think that ultimately the three years I spent at boarding school did help me in the end; seeing and experiencing how nasty kids could be to each other, without recourse to parents on a regular basis, and developing a little bit of “immunity” to it all I suppose. I guess it was also just me growing a bit more mature with time, or maybe just learning self-control to just ignore what people said, or go with what they said… ie, if somebody said something that I might have previously hurt me, I would laugh and joke at myself with them (something I learned more to do at boarding school as well), so the effect of their joke was kind of lost. A little self-deprecating maybe, but it seemed to work.

I might have been a bit eager to make friends at the start, though. In the first few weeks there was a guy who was also new at the school and we seemed to get on very well. He lived near me and he came back via my place once after school. I confided in him about the lies that I told at my previous school, trusting that he would keep to himself. Of course he didn’t, and I found out pretty quickly that he had told other people. I think he was almost as insecure as I was about making friends and he used that to try and make himself the talking point and get attention. A learning point about being silly and naive, but I was pretty hurt by it.

 

A world of lies

…How to get people to believe me? I would have to know all the details and be consistent in everything I said. I would have to act strange at the start and get people to ask me what’s wrong, rather than just blurting out the lie; I’d have to get the timings right…

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Matlock in the Midlands… a holiday that would have profound effects…

To try and be more popular at my second high school (or less unpopular, to put it more accurately), I had a daft/desperate idea; at least to get some more attention that wasn’t bullying. The idea originated from a holiday I had with a family in the midlands. Towards the end, at some sort of park, I met a girl—let’s call her Becky. We got on very well with each other and for the first time in my life, a girl actually liked me. This was in the pre-internet day, so nobody had email, and mobile phones were not so common—I certainly didn’t have one at least, and neither did Becky. We didn’t kiss or anything, but we traded addresses and home numbers, and would start writing to each other. I would call her from a payphone in the school (remember, it was a boarding school) every weekend or so. We did this for about year, until my family went back on holiday to the same area… we tried to arrange to meet but it didn’t work out, which left me a bit sad.

In that summer when it all “ended”, I thought a lot about her and about school, so much so that it almost became an obsession. And then, the idea crossed my mind. If people at school thought I’d slept with her, they would think I was cooler… or even more… say that I got her pregnant. The idea was a bit crazy (okay, very crazy), but it grew on me, and I started to think about the details. How to get people to believe me? I would have to know all the details and be consistent in everything I said. I would have to act strange at the start and get people to ask me what’s wrong, rather than just blurting out the lie; I’d have to get the timings right. I would rely on saying “don’t tell anyone, please!” to ensure that the one or two people I told it to at the start would tell other people. If there was something I could be absolutely sure about it was the capacity of the others not to keep secrets. I basically created an entire lie and story, and in knowing it so well, it sort of became my world and I was in danger of starting to believe it all myself—and that was actually a little scary.

It certainly did get me more attention, especially with the lads, not sure if I got more “respect” from them because of it, but it did mean more people talked to me. I would never talk about it unless actively questioned – definitely not something to be boastful about, in order to maintain the fantasy. It was tiring though, especially when the “baby was born” – to keep the lie going throughout the entire school year. Thankfully that was my last year at that school, and I went to school closer to home for my last pre-university years, so I could just forget about it.

One day, a couple of years later, I met a guy who was in my year at the boarding school. I asked him how many people believed it all, and admitted it was an entire fabrication. I wasn’t afraid of admitting, though he was surprised. He asked me why? When I told him, he was surprised and said that people did like me at the school and I wasn’t that unpopular. How memories and perspectives change from person to person.

talented mr ripleyAs I say, looking back and it’s a little scary. Have you ever seen the film The Talented Mr Ripley? The guy gets lost in his lies. People get lost in their sort of fantasy world, so much so that it becomes real. What’s the tagline from the film? “It’s better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody”… and, “How far would you go to become someone else.” I’m just glad I was able to leave it behind, though it has echoed a lot through the years. Anybody else had such experience?

The “porno-king”

…When they weren’t making fun of me for crying, other kids would call me the “porno-king” and I became the go-too guy for anybody looking for a magazine…

Aside from Kate, I had various other crushes at that same school, all of which would go to waste and were definitely left unreciprocated. As a boarder, I also couldn’t continue my fetish of dressing up as a girl: if I was ever found out, the bullying would have become ridiculous. So that had to wait for the occasional weekend and holidays.  To compensate, I resorted to porn, and there was a very healthy illicit porn-mag trade among the boarders at the school.

Only around 30 boys boarded at the school, though the day students (of which there were around 500 or so) were both girls and boys.  The porn mag trade was particularly strong with the sixth-form students, and I definitely became a fan. We would buy “used” mags from the older kids for a few pounds or so, and by the time I left the school when I was 16, I must have had at least 20 magazines accumulated—hidden from the priests who ran the school in my wardrobe, behind one of the drawers where (as far as I was aware at least), they would never look. Discovery could mean suspension or worse. I never got expelled so I guess they didn’t find them, though I definitely got a bit of a reputation…

As well as the photos, I just kept on reading the stories in them… girls with other girls especially, and threesomes as well… all capturing my imagination regarding the sexual possibilities of life; imagining being one of the girls, or being with one of them in the stories and photos…

Fantasies that were all well beyond my reach as an overly sensitive teenager with few real friends and no confidence; with absolutely no hope of a girlfriend at that time, let alone some horny creature looking for a good time. If there was anything I wasn’t, a picture of a good time was quite high up there.

New starts…

…One day when I was alone in my dormitory, in the spur of the moment I decided to write “i love Kate” on a paper aeroplane and fly it out the window… nobody would know it was me… Though of course, stupid me put my head out the window…

Being the “cry-baby” at school has a very negative affect on your street-cred with the other pupils. Definitely not very cool. So I never really had many friends—maybe three or four at each of the various schools I attended, two of whom I stay in touch with today. Getting a girlfriend was nigh on impossible, though I didn’t make life easy for myself at the same time.

For my second high school, from when I was 14 until 16, I went to a boarding school that was a couple of hours or so away from my new home town. The other schools in my town were not particularly appetising options, and also I really did want a completely new start. Of course, I went and cried on my first day, which made this “new start” pretty much redundant straight away. By the time I was in my final year though I was getting better, but as you can imagine, boarding school can be a pretty harsh environment for a sensitive kid. I remember one time, in the showers, a couple of the other kids took my clothes and towel and made fun of me for some time as I was crying away. That whole episode helped make me want to avoid showers for sometime so I wasn’t deemed the most hygienic of students–which meant more teasing. But I think overall the whole place did, eventually at least, help me grow up and grow that “thick skin” the primary school teachers had talked about.

I  remember having a crush on a few girls at the school. The first of whom… Kate… One day when I was alone in my dormitory, in the spur of the moment I decided to write “I love Kate” on a paper aeroplane and fly it out the window (the dorm was on the fourth floor)… nobody would know it was me… Though of course, stupid me put my head out the window to see where it landed and a guy who picked it up was swift to spot me and make the conclusion. Talk about making life hard for yourself, and I guess I kind of warranted the inevitable backlash and teasing from that. I never did get a girlfriend, nor kissed a girl, while I was there.