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 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.

School years – the start of it all

By the time I was 13, I was pretty much on the verge of some sort of breakdown: another kid just needed to look at me for me to burst into tears, and they knew it. One of the worst moments came when I was 12 and pissed myself in class as I was too afraid to ask to go to the toilet.

After growing up on sparsely populated islands, moving to the larger city of Lancaster in the north of England when I was around eight years old was quite traumatic for me. School suddenly became much less friendly and I struggled to adapt. I would cry a lot then kids would make fun of me… it was like a vicious circle…

I remember well when it all started: I was at primary school when I was eight, and two of my older sisters who were at the same school suddenly weren’t there on a particular day—they were on a school trip. In the playground I started looking for them and couldn’t find them, and I remember starting to cry because of it. This caused some amusement with the other kids who laughed at me, and that in turn caused me to cry more… I remember teachers telling others in the class about people with “thinner skins” who were more sensitive than others… that didn’t work, for sure.

I swiftly became known as a “cry baby” as I literally was crying at school at least once a day and more often than not, two or three times. This was something that continually inspired others to make me the brunt of their jokes. Other things like an accent that was completely different from that of Lancaster didn’t help: I was seen as the posh kid, which helped to further put a target on my head. Understandably I guess as kids can be cruel to an easy target.

This would continue for years. By the time I was 13, I was pretty much on the verge of some sort of breakdown: another kid just needed to look at me for me to burst into tears, and they knew it. One of the worst moments came when I was 12 and pissed myself in class as I was too afraid to ask to go to the toilet. The teachers understandably became tired of it and rather exasperated by it all, and I don’t think anyone in my family really knew what to do. The only solution that was came up was changing school. And indeed, two primary schools and three high schools later, by the time I was 17, I was only just starting to get that mystical “thick skin”. Still seen as strange and alone, with zero confidence to really speak with people… but… at least I wasn’t crying all the time.

In the midst of all of this, I remember when I was ten not being interested in girls, though that swiftly changed when I turned 11 and went to my first high school. In spite of being deeply unpopular and certainly not cool in way whatsoever, I became infatuated with a girl two years older than myself… so much so that I saved up my pocket money to buy a £10 ring for her at a jewellery store. We all got on the same school bus and she lived quite close to me. One day after we got back, I went to my place via hers to knock on her door and give it to her. Needless to say, my affections were not returned, though at least the ring was given back a few days later.