Growing up in The World

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic

Just a biography of my life in education and all the things I learned about how to defend myself and exact revenge on the bullies


There was a point in my life where I had come nothing short of being pure terrified. It has nothing to do with my entry about ghostly encounters with irrefutable evidence of the supernatural. It was alot scarier than that. I had to go to secondary school. I had sat in the car on several occasions when my father had to pick my sister up from the front entrance of Brecon High School. It was the grounds in and around that front entrance that I’d learned all about playground psychology and the harsh unforgiving world of reputation and the underdogs. Caring about who you’re seen with. Caring about your image to be cool enough to sit with the kids on the back seat of the bus. Caring about whether or not you had respect from teachers. Most importantly, though, acknowledging a point in your life where you have to face the cold fact that you will have to use your fists to prevent getting in greater pain yourself. Some might say this comment is a little extreme, yet I beg to differ. This is often something that goes under the radar as teachers usually cannot be bothered to sort it out. Also, I can guarantee that this happens in EVERY school both private and state and at the age of twenty upon writing this, I can still remember events quite vividly. I will come back to all this later on. First I want to mention the prelude to my arrival at Brecon High School.

I had originally attended Craig-Y-Nos preparatory school in Swansea, about half way to Pennard if you are at all familiar with the Swansea area. It was almost a perfect school and I still feel privileged for it to have been a part of my upbringing. All the pupils didn’t really consider the teachers as teachers so much as acquaintances who could be easily approached and who didn’t make you feel like an idiot if you simply couldn’t understand something. Except Mrs. Lewis who would just yell and call you bone idle. One of her favourite phrases that was. I say almost perfect because there is no such thing as a perfect school and in every barrel there is a bad apple. I don’t mean Mrs. Lewis. I mean the odd occasion that I was bullied or mocked or always chosen to help the indescribably snotty retarded kid. In hindsight, I should have just stood up for myself a little more. These were only odd occasions that happened very rarely. Most of the time I remember learning how to do joined up handwriting, proper speech lessons, and trying to pronounce the registration plates on passing cars at break time. Overall I have nothing particularly bad to say about Craig-Y-Nos as long as every child is prepared to stand up for themselves. To rate a primary school in such a glowing light is a tall order for most.

Unfortunately, with just two years of my primary education left, my father decided to drag us all up to a dilapidated house in the valleys. The lights hardly worked, the floors felt like they would fall in at any moment, and it was very, very cold with no central heating. We would also have a few ghostly encounters later on, adding to the house’s charm. Just a mile down the road there was a conveniently placed primary school only this time, it was not a private school. Coming from such a pampered and well behaved environment, I should have been terrified but in this case, ignorance certainly was bliss. That is, until the other kids started a hobby of lobbing rugby balls at me in the playground. It only took a few days for my young and naive self to notice everything was different here. The classes were in years and not forms, the kids talked back to the teachers, there were a few proper psycho cases, they all worshipped rugby more than Jesus and none of them knew what happened in 1066 or how many centimetres there were in a meter. After several lunches of being subjected to having my drink mixed up with spit from the lovely school psychopath I figured I’d had enough of his shit.

During one of my lessons I asked to go to the toilet. I headed in thinking how glad I was that I had more imagination than the other kids who just left a turd in the wash basin, or across the cubicle walls as some did. No, I was far more malicious. I approached each cubicle door and pressed my thumb as hard as I could on the outside of the lock, sliding it across to ‘engaged’. Lunchtime was extremely satisfying that day, watching everyone eat to their hearts content. Even more satisfying was seeing the psycho kid was to be my first victim ‘MISS I CAN’T GET INTO THE TOOOOIIIIILLLLLEEETTTE’. So the boys all had to go into the girls toilets instead which, as I had anticipated, they absolutely hated. When all the kids were lined up for interrogation all I had to do was look up at the head teacher, shake my innocent private school boy head and say ‘It wasn’t me, Miss’. At a complete loss for what to do, the teachers simply blamed the psychotic child and he was expelled. Much to the joy of the more sane kids.

Shortly after this extremely entertaining incident, life went back to normal. I went back to having rugby balls thrown at me and returning home with a split lip and, frankly things continued downhill. I’d left all my friends behind in Craig-Y-Nos, had no one I could trust in this new school and I had considered running away just so I didn’t have to go. I did once, but a strange mixture of anger and naivety led me to forget that dad had a car and I only got as far as halfway down the little B-road that led to our house. I’d come home with new bruises once again and lay on my bed crying, not wanting to speak to anyone. One day, though, my mother came and sat down next to me on the bed and said she had been speaking to Mr. Fursland, my old head teacher. That was the first glimmer of hope I’d had in ages. Instantly, I ran through the unlikely scenario of mum saying to me ‘Nick, we’ve had a chat with Mr. Fursland and he says he’d be delighted to have you back’. It was a pipe dream, a fantasy. Plain impossible and nothing more than a glimmer. Low and behold, the next thing she actually said was ‘‘Nick, we’ve had a chat with Mr. Fursland and he says he’d be delighted to have you back’. I spent the last two years of my primary education travelling twenty five miles every day with my father to attend Craig-Y-Nos. Fifty miles even, if you count it as there and back. Was it worth all that petrol? Absolutely. Although, I’m sure my father would beg to differ.

Yet, by the time I had to ascend, as it were, to secondary education I certainly hadn’t forgotten what my little taster of state school education had been like. In fact, I remembered it well and these terrible memories coupled with the knowledge that there was no escaping this time around completely terrified me. On the morning of my first day, I felt so anxious and nervous I didn’t even have the appetite to eat a Kit-Kat. To make matters worse we had actually forgotten the starting day and were late. After storming through WH Smiths snatching pencil cases and stationary from the shelves, I had finally arrived in my new prison at around 10:20 if I remember correctly. I stepped into my physics lesson shirt tucked in, tie up to the collar adorned in my blazer from Craig-Y-Nos. I glanced nervously from place to place in the room, as all eyes were fixed on me. They all had T-shirts showing under their uniform which was unbuttoned past the chest and their ties hung even lower. I thought to myself what an untidy rabble they were as I heard murmering of ‘what does he look like?’, or ‘fucking swot’. At least the teacher smiled. I sat down next to someone who I couldn’t figure out was a boy or a girl and attempted to say a quick hello only to get blanked. The teacher resumed, ‘Ok, so where were we? Oh yes, so who can tell me how many centimetres there are in a meter?’. That old chestnut, I thought as I wondered if any of them had learned the answer over the summer holidays. I could have sprung my hand up straight away like Hermione Granger but I thought, arrogantly, I’d give everyone else a chance first. ‘No one? No one can tell me this one?’ and so I couldn’t help it. Up went the hand and before he could finish uttering the word ‘Yes?’ when he pointed at me I chirped out ‘one hundred, sir’. Again with the ‘bloody swot’. I felt very alone. I was not one of these kids and they were definitely not my kind of people. I realised the instant I told the answer I may as well have put a big red cross on my forehead, made all the more apparent after the teacher said ‘Yes well done, at least someone could help me out there’.

Although alone and feeling tinier than a freeze dried pea inside the classroom, when it came to break time, I was no longer within the safe gaze of a teacher’s eyes. I was exposed and I felt naked, like I had no skin or any natural defence. I had no friends at this point to huddle into a group with. So I was told by the prefects to walk all around the back of school and to the front due to some health and safety red tape. I didn’t know where I was going and following people just resulted in them running away because they thought I was strange. But I found my way on my own sure enough. It was when I came to the back that I had encountered a familiar face from the physics lesson. The name ‘blazer boy’ was uttered to me for the first time and this was the infamous name I became known by amongst pupils and teachers alike right until the end of my secondary education.  Alas, this was the first time I’d heard it and I was fed up of all this behind-the-back cussing and spitefulness. I lay into the bastard. I tackled him to the ground and punched him over and over in the stomach until he begged me to stop. It was all over so fast the surrounding kids didn’t even have time to gather around us, yelling ‘fight fight fight’. Continuing along the back path, everyone now staring at me in a different kind of way, I saw more familiar faces emerge from behind me. I suppose they saw their friend curled up on the floor and decided he didn’t deserve it. So a good seven or eight of them gave chase and I had never run so hard and fast in my life. The whippy reeds that are common in the Brecon Beacons grew outside the back of the school and this was the only option I could see that could get me out of this. Even then, one against eight? This was going to hurt. Alot. So I tugged and pulled as I hard as I could on the stubborn plant until, just a few meters away from me, the boys saw me pull free the reed. They all took up positions around me wielding sticks and stones to break my bones. Everything slowed down at this point as I was pumping hideous amounts of adrenaline, and I can feel a little even now, as I relive this. I waited for one of them to make the first move; an attempted rugby tackle to the ground. Before he made contact I whipped him as hard as I could on the side of his neck as he yelped like a kicked dog, hitting the floor in agony. As the rest of them descended upon me all I remember is about twenty seconds of searing whipping sounds as the reed made harsh contact with necks, backs and legs behind the knee. After it was all over I remained standing and they were on the floor groaning in agony. I felt a little bad as I surveyed them, seeing terrible red lines burned into most of their necks. But the buggers asked for it and I have no regrets. Most of all, however, I remember being utterly shocked that, through sheer determination not to get beaten to a pulp, I had bested eight people in a row. That day none of them of them reported me. I’d imagine it was because they had too much pride to go and tell the teachers they’d been beaten up by the fancy private school kid. I was right. It did hurt alot...for them.

I’d like to stress as much as possible to parents out there that schools are only becoming harsher and more unforgiving as a result of the harsh economic times we live in. If your child is coming home telling you things that sound a little too extreme to be real, don’t be stupid. Don’t think ‘they’re young and naive with an elaborate imagination’. Bloody well listen to them. My mother has read this and was totally shocked and said ‘you never told me about this’. I had, she’d just disregarded it.

The rest of my time in secondary school was not quite so dramatic. There were only two other fights in my time there, one of which I lost to a little ginger kid with what I call ‘big man’ syndrome. Although I’d settled in and people gradually accepted me for what I was, people still tried to make my life that little bit more miserable. Some days it shook the very foundations of my self esteem. Other days, I just laughed at their simple and futile attempts. By the end of my time in Brecon High, despite the odd hardship, I was glad I went. I was glad that the second half of my life at the time wasn’t pampered and perfect like Craig-Y-Nos because it brought me into the real world. I was made aware of how pupils and teachers and anybody else could have their own agendas and motives. How every human being has their own reasons to be driven. This may have conflicted with my own motives but I learned that it shouldn’t have made them a bad person in my eyes. It was only very recently that I had come to this conclusion, during my time at the student village in my first year of university. A conclusion I will return to later on.

In some of my earliest Shakespeare lectures I was taught about how most of his tragic dramas have a distinct turning point, near the end, where both the characters on stage and the audience are privy to information rounding off all the complexities within the plot. All the worries of the past washed away, leaving an open ended future with the promise of good times. It’s one of my favourite words. Catharsis. This word epitomises my first year at university. In one of my entries, I mention how my opinions on foreigners changed, how I began the previously unspeakable act of smoking and undoubtedly my personality changed as a result. All these things were a result of the people around me. I was no longer in a uniform wearing a blazer or a ‘suit’ as some ignoramuses insisted on calling it. I was just simple old me on the outside and people could no longer judge my book by it’s cover. I was fully aware of this prior to moving into two two one flat, room four, and it excited me no end. I was ready to start again from a clean slate. I was ready to learn, meet new people and develop relationships that weren’t hindered by a set of playground morals and ethics. I was now free from my parents and it was time to do what I wanted to do. I was ready to experience my cathartic turning points. It turned out, that without the hindrance of living in the middle of nowhere, I became quite the socialite. On the first few nights of my time in the village my room was jam packed with new people helping themselves to my music, climbing through my window and generally having a good time. There was no hostility and this set the trend of my room being base of operations for any social event myself and my friends had lined up. Something of a misfortune for them as I was at the top of a very steep hill. Although not as busy as my current life in third year, my  lecture timetable had social events crammed in at every blank space leaving no room whatsoever for boredom. That year will probably the best of my life for one reason. For the first time, people saw me for who I really was without assuming or judging or jumping to conclusions. I was just doing me, and it went down well.

So what did all this have to do with me being glad of my time in Brecon High? Well, in this first year I met someone who made it extremely apparent. When I say I met someone, after all that you’ve read, I’ll bet you’re assuming I’m about to talk about a girl. Well, no actually, this is about Creepy Dave. The poor bugger never liked being called that but it stuck and he had no choice in his title. In all fairness, he was pretty creepy. Little things like referring to girls as ‘lasses’ even when their presence. Which he didn’t really get away with because he wasn’t from Scotland or Ireland or over the age of sixty. He was from Swindon. Anyway, he had this nasty habit of coming into your room without making his presence known. I’d be sat there in my room, deeply concentrating on a game of Guitar Hero until he’d eventually pipe up in his unmistakeably monotone voice ‘Ay up’. Despite how everyone was aware this was his one and only greeting they would still jump a mile. I was no exception and every time, I would ask ‘Jesus, you scared the crap out of me. How long were you standing there for?!’ to which he would reply ‘ ‘bout five minutes’. Alas I digress into justifications of his title. Creepy Dave had the fortune to be the son of extremely rich parents who put him through private education all the way. Honestly, when he told me I wasn’t surprised. He has improved greatly but at the time his self esteem was through the floor. To such a degree, in fact, that it would affect him in conversation where he just wouldn’t pipe up or even mention the fact that the name Creepy Dave just didn’t sit well with him. I strongly believe that, had I been through the same education as Dave, I would be very similar to him in demeanour. When Dave left the comfort zone of which he had been used to all his life, and came to university, he was suddenly exposed to the world undoubtedly leaving him feeling much as I did on my first break at Brecon High. Luckily the social politics surrounding him were far less harsh as everyone was far more mature at this point. Yet, I often wonder how he would have turned out if he got thrown in the deep end at the age of twelve, as I did, to discover life’s lessons... 

Submitted: November 10, 2011

© Copyright 2022 Nick Banks. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


Pretty Pretty

You have been through alot! X3

Wed, December 28th, 2011 6:11pm


Well, living off bolognase and stir fry for 3 months is surprisingly maddening

Wed, December 28th, 2011 2:28pm

Nick Banks

Oops, that was a comment in relation to a different article. Oopsie. Thanks for reading this one, I know it was long. And erm, was that sarcasm? :p

Wed, December 28th, 2011 10:29pm

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