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Gary Smith’s Spectacular Schooldays

Happy memories from my wonderful time at Calday Grange Grammar School. Only without the “happy” or “wonderful” bits.

This is a belated response, Leo, to your earlier post Ordinarily advanced and unclassifiable (and yes, I see what you did there. Though only UK schoolgoers of a certain age will get it).

“Schooldays: best days of your life” was something always thrown at us by grown-ups when we were kids. I used to think: “holy crap! Is this the best it gets?” No wonder I was depressed as a kid. Did adults really believe these words themselves? What were they trying to achieve by worrying me like that? Were they trying to get me to go to school on a daily basis? (As you may recall, if this was their aim, the ploy went spectacularly wrong.)

I don’t think I ever liked going to school. Unlike you, Leo, I don’t have fond memories of Black Horse Hill Infant School (aged 5 to 7) or Junior School (7 to 11). To be honest, I don’t really have any memories of that period of time. Perhaps I started my life at 11 years old? Maybe I’m a robot, and my makers couldn’t be arsed* programming in any early childhood memories. Or an alien being, masquerading as human… well, it’s a possibility I guess.

I have a handful of photos and some school class photos from that period, and I can name most of the names. I’m still in touch with a number of my old classmates, via Facebook in the main (though my next door neighbour is Sue Slade, who was one of the girls in the other class – we only had two – throughout infants and juniors). These might remind me of people and events, but I’m not sure if they are real memories or just artificial ones implanted by my creators…

But I don’t really have memories of special times: I remember I fancied a little Welsh girl called Rebecca Henderson, who fancied a tall boy from Newton called Max Lintott (I remember me and him had a bit of a punch-up over her – I lost). I remember I had to sit next to a girl called Amanda Nelson for an entire school year, as a punishment for talking in class (a harsh punishment, though apparently she was a real babe in her teenage years). I remember playing football in the playground with Andy McCready (we won 27-23, I think my own personal tally reached double figures). I remember getting in a fight with John Knowles coz I pinched his bum (don’t ask why, he was nowhere near as cute as Amanda Nelson). But I don’t look back on those years fondly. Or at all, in fact.

I have a lot more memories of my time in big boys school – Calday Grange Grammar. I might be able to dredge up a few “happy” ones if I racked my brain. Though none spring immediately to mind. I was a bright boy, so I’m told. Maybe that was the problem. Maybe school didn’t challenge me. Maybe my teachers didn’t inspire. Or maybe I just couldn’t be arsed.

It was a bit of a shock moving to the big boys school: for starters, in the junior school we played football, nothing else; Calday being a grammar school, you played rugby, cricket, hockey – if you didn’t like those sports, it was the choice between cross country running or ritual flogging. I chose the ritual flogging every time. Didn’t do me any harm. Well, not as much harm as the big bruisers that were playing rugby would’ve done to me.

To be continued… because I still can’t be arsed.

* note: for those of you not brought up on Merseyside, “can’t be arsed” is a quaint but local colloquialism, which the Urban Dictionary translates as to be seriously demotivated or unwilling to do something.