About Me My Teenage Years

My Teenage Years: 11

When I was a kid, I used to fall in love with a different girl practically every week. In fact, I used to keep a frequently-updated list of all the girls at school that I fancied, ranked according to how much I fancied them at that particular moment in time.

Fortunately, such documentation was long ago lost to landfill. However, it would be a shame to forget that it had ever happened.


In my day, at least, when schoolchildren start secondary school at 11 years of age, they become different people overnight. They move from an environment where they are surrounded by 4-11 year olds to one where they are surrounded by 11-18 year olds. I am aware that in this modern world, children are exposed to bad influences at an increasingly early age, but back then sub-11 year olds were innocent and naive, and acted like, you know, children.

While all the other children were embracing this new, mature environment, for some reason I was at the back of the line. One reason may have been that I was resisting this change from “big fish/small pond” to “small fish/big pond” and assuming, in my naivety, that if I stayed still then the whole world would stay still around me. Dumbass.

Another reason could have been Stephen. Allow me to explain.

I went to a primary school on an RAF estate. As a result, at the end of each year I’d always have to say goodbye to one or two of my friends forever, as their dads were restationed elsewhere. My lovelife ((used to describe the act of holding hands and kissing without tongues, naturally)) at this early age was a real tear-jerker, as you can imagine, and I can still remember the names of those girls who were snatched away from my life while they were still perfect.

At the end of my final year at this school, the numbers came in. Out of the entire class of 30 ((this is almost certainly not the actual figure, but it’s adequate)), 6 had passed their 11+ and were eligible for the Grammar school in the next town. The rest would be going to other local non-Grammar schools. I, naturally, was among those 6.

No problem so far. Grammar schools are very selective, and I doubt that many other schools in the county attained a 20% pass rate. However, due to the aforementioned disappearing-friends trick, there would only be one other boy going to that school with me. Stephen.

Stephen was quite an immature person. Not in a derogatory way, but in the most purely factual way. He had the innocence and the desires of someone half his age. He was also, as I would later discover, a textbook geek-to-be. I counted him among my friends at primary school, but only because I counted everyone among my friends at primary school. I was, without a word of a lie, quite popular. Subsequently, I was totally unprepared for what would happen to me at secondary school.


September came around, and I started secondary school. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I had 120 children that needed sorting into 4 classes of about 30 each ((again, I’m pulling numbers out of my ass, but they are adequate for the purposes of this exercise)), and 50 of them were boys and 70 were girls, then I’d try to put about 12 boys and 18 girls in each class, right? Seems obvious to me. Well, that’s not the way that it went down at my school. Three of the classes got a 50/50 split, and the rest got the balance.

So in my class there were: Stephen and I ((helpfully, the people who sort these things out would aim to put new students into a class with someone that they went to primary school with. In retrospect, this was probably the worst thing that could have happened to me)), Tam, Stuart (who I had actually known since I was a baby, but for some reason he shunned sitting next to boys in favour of the company of girls. Yep, gay), Nigel (a thug who became my nemesis for many years) and Wayne (sat in the back row, never did any work, way too cool for school). And a huge great big pile of girls.

For my first year at this school, Stephen was my best friend. As I mentioned before, he was a thoroughbred geek of the *Dungeons and Dragons* type, and I was fairly geeky too, so it was a comfortable match. He was very shy, so he needed me as a friend. I was the kind of person who was more interested in strengthening existing relationships than forging new ones. The rest of the world looked down on our geeky shenanigans ((I can’t recall if the lists of girls that we fancied, as mentioned right back at the start of this post, ever became public. If they did, then I’ve successfully repressed the memory, and I think it’s best that we leave it this way)), and over the course of that year my reputation crumbled, and when I realised that I had no cred whatsoever, so did my self-confidence around pretty much everyone. But hey, I was having fun in my geeky little fantasy worlds with Stephen, so I would be fine.

At the end of the first year, Stephen and his family moved to a different county to run a pub. Stephen was clearly having difficulty fitting in at school, so this may have been a factor. Also, Stephen used to live on the RAF estate, so it’s possible that his father was discharged for one reason or another, and this could have been a factor too. Unfortunately, he shares a name with a famous actor, so it’s going to be very hard to track him down and ask him.

Epilogue to this chapter

Stephen and I continued to write eachother letters after he’d moved away. After a while I got tired of the geeky childishness, I wanted to salvage my reputation at school, and I wanted to put that mentality behind me. I gradually wrote back less and less often. Seven years later, when I was at University, I received a letter from him out of the blue. I phoned him up, but the conversation was awkward and rapidly creaked to a halt. Bear in mind that, having fucked up one opportunity to create a brand new reputation from scratch, I was now at University trying to prove to myself that I could do it right. At this point, Stephen just reminded me of my own failure.

This post was initially intended to be about the lists. I think you can see that I have developed verbal diarrhoea, which is why I’ve titled it “My Teenage Years: 11”. You can see where this is headed.

*This is part 1 of a 7-part series called “My Teenage Years” which documents my school days between the ages of 11 and 17*

9 replies on “My Teenage Years: 11”

I did actually just say this to you, as we are sitting next to each other on the sofa, but I suppose I should make it an official comment as well:

sigh. this is all too familiar. from the lists to the confidence-shattering crappy class allocations at big school. I hope we can somehow save Bernard from this, but even if we do, he’ll just have other teenage horrors instead.

I wait with eager anticipation!!

Teenage horrors are here to stay I think – heck we wouldn’t be the people we are today if we didn’t have to go through all the shittyness (can I swear?) as we are growing up. It makes us stronger, better human beings. Or so someone told me once…

I do think that Bernard will have his share – life’s cruel joke perhaps?

Ok I’ve read my last comment again and it doesn’t seem to make much sense.

I also feel that the last sentance implies something about Bernard particularly. It doesn’t. It is purely meant as a general point. I admit to not making it very well.


No apology necessary, I knew what you meant.

I’m not writing this series because I considered my teenage years to be exceptionally horrific. In fact, I’d say they were probably relatively pleasant compared to the average. I’m writing it because I’m finally ready to condense those years into a compact, easily readable format, wrap it up and call it a story. Reading, analysing and writing it down is making me feel good.

1) Stephen Seagal? 🙂
2) Weird that there seems to be so much peer pressure and problems about being “popular” for youngsters in the anglo-american domain…this problem virtually does not exist in central, and perhaps continental Europe…also, things like “bullying” as oftne reported in the U.S. are practically non-existent AFAIK round here

No, not Stephen Seagal, but I have deliberately avoided using surnames in this series, so any future guesses will be met with a stony silence from me.

I must admit, I find it hard to wrap my head around the notion of a childhood without bullying and peer pressure. I mean, once you get rid of those, *what’s left?*

[…] As I mentioned in an earlier installment, only one other boy progressed from my primary school to my secondary school at the same time as me, due to the tendency of RAF families to disappear from one year to the next. Imagine my surprise when, on the first day of my fourth year, I discovered that one of those families had come full circle and returned to the UK. After three years, I would be reunited with my old pal Martin (not to be confused with the Martin referenced in the previous year’s entry). I pretty much dropped Tam overnight, which I think he was secretly happy about because he really preferred the company of Martin (evil Martin, that is) and Vijay. […]

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