Wednesday 2 September 1987

My nerves always wrack and turn and jitter before these kinds of events*.
Had to get a lift there with someone else’s mum, which I wasn’t keen about.
Got through it all without any bullying from the older kids.
One of the first jobs was to copy out our timetable, or in other words our route
through the weekly labour camp.
Not sure why we weren’t just given the timetable as a handout.
Then came my first design lesson with someone called Mr Gosling.
It was all a bit pointless: we had to design our own logos, which included our name.
From the canteen I bought a chicken pie with potatoes and gravy, and a cream
bun and some milk.
It’s the healthiest there was.
Then came some spellings, and some maths, for which there was some homework…

What I don’t record in my diary is how, at some point during today, a face I remembered from primary school but who was a bit older than me came up and said: “Fuck off, first year!”

It was done half in jest, half in scorn. But I must have heard more “fucks” during this single day than in my entire life up to that point. And I wasn’t ready to join in.

My secondary school took pupils from all over town, which meant a mixture of races, religions and aptitudes I’d never before experienced. It took a little while for my mind to be opened as wide as my eyes.

I also found it tough to get used to being in a class run by the strictest teacher in the whole school. One of the first things he made sure we all understood was the meaning of the word “shirker”. He wrote it in large letters on the whiteboard. Yes, there were whiteboards. In every single room. I’d never seen one before. It was all a bit too much.

Saying that, my maths homework was a piece of piss.

*They still do.

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