Looking Back On The Mid 90s (with the help of my school yearbook) (Part 1)

5 Mar

A couple of weeks ago my mum gave me something I had totally forgotten she’d kept. Something I had totally forgotten even existed. My school yearbook from 1996-97, the year I started secondary school. I was 13. I spent the next week or so taking a trip down memory lane each night, hours and hours of reminiscing. Whilst smoking a lot of weed. And writing down whatever memories and thoughts were conjured up in my mind by the pictures. Here’s some of the shit I wrote in the notebook:

Sitting in the front row of her class photo is the first girl I ever fell in love with. I remember when she moved to our school. I was 11. She was 12. An older woman. Way out of my league. Was never interested. But we would walk home from school together sometimes. She lived round the corner on the estate. Either in the grey block of flats or the house opposite it. I can’t remember exactly. I used to see her knocking about with boyfriends older than me. Hated it. Until I just looked at this picture I hadn’t seen her face in about fifteen years. I remember vividly her South African accent. Strong it was. At first, anyway.

I’m pretty sure that girl, my first love, ha! settled down almost straight after finishing school and started a family. I seem to recall seeing her pushing a pram. That first child she had can’t be too far off the age that we are in these photos. Man, time just disappears. Blink. Gone.

—–

On page 54 there’s the kid who I had my first fight of secondary school with. And who I continued to fight with about once every three months in the middle of the field at lunch time for the next few years. “Fight! Fight! Fight!” The whole school’s formed a circle around the action. Better fight like you mean it! In about our third tear-up that kid gave me my first ever pummelling. He was in the year above, but for our first two fights he was near enough the same size as me. Then he had a growth spurt. I could be heard gulping, cartoon style. Fight three toughened me up for fight four, though, so it wasn’t a bad thing. We were sworn enemies for three years, constantly throwing punches at each other. It must have been over something fucking important. Must’ve been, right? Yea. One day a mate of mine threw an apple core in the direction of his group of mates on the field at lunchtime. It hit him in the head. He mistakenly took me for the culprit. He shoved me. Then he shoved me again. I threw a punch. In my mind that would be the end of it. He’d go down like a sack of spuds. Like on the telly. But my mind overestimated my power. He punched me back. We exchanged blows. He threw a lot more than me but didn’t land a single one. By that time I was into my third year of Korean martial art Tang Soo Do. Fuck yea! Who’s laughing?? I was a blocking machine! Wax on, wax off. Too busy blocking to remember to throw many, though. The kids in my year shouted for me. The kids in his year shouted for him. Two teachers dragged us by our collars inside. Detention after school.

Looking at his face in the photo now, he don’t look like a bad kid at all. Looks no different from me and my mates. It was just that one moment of chance, that apple core hitting him in the head and him thinking I had thrown it, that led to him becoming the epitomy of everything I hated in the world. And undoubtedly he saw me in the same way throughout those years. It’s stupid really. But kidz is kidz. Despite our colourful history together he proved himself to be of decent character. Some time in early 2000, while I was in the final year of school and he had left the summer before, our paths crossed one afternoon outside the shops. He walked up to me and put his hand out. I shook it. And that was that. I don’t think we even spoke. And that was the last time I saw that kid.

—–

I spend ages on the pages reserved for the portraits of all the teachers. Just from looking at their faces I can see who smokes weed. And who uses other recreational drugs. And who drinks. And what sort of drunk they are. And the alcoholics, I can see them without even concentrating. It’s a look I recognise. And I can see who’s young and in love. And who’s young and single through choice. And who’s young and single but pines for a change in circumstances. And who’s got a family at home. And who’s going through marital problems. And who’s struggling; losing the plot.

The wacky science teacher who looks like a political activist with his Cat Stevens dark hair and beard definitely smokes weed. As does the drama teacher who looks and talks like Neil from the Young Ones. He’s even stoned in every photo he appears in throughout the book. The young male PE teacher who tries too hard to be matey with the popular kids drops pills every weekend. The middle-aged foreign languages teacher with the Serbian surname is the alcoholic. She’s even pissed in her photo. My Year 8 form tutor, a young and attractive Jewish woman, only recently married, is the happily in love one. The attractive young English teacher wishes she had a boyfriend. The English teacher who talks like Michael Caine is happy to be single.The IT teacher’s marriage is on the rocks. And the ex-Royal Marine who now teaches science is the bloke losing the plot. Actually he lost the plot a long time ago and is now just a ticking time bomb. That guy should not be allowed anywhere near kids. Or a Bunsen burner. He’s a fucking psychopath. Most of the others look like they lead pretty normal lives, going home in the evening to eat dinner and watch telly with their families.

Looking now properly at the teachers I can see who’s decent and who’s a dick. Nowhere near as many of them are dicks as I thought back when I was a kid. There are two, though. I guess it’s not really a coincidence that they ended up having a secret relationship together that didn’t stay secret for very long, not after the bloke forgot to put something on the end of it and the woman started sporting a bulged tummy. I don’t even want to speculate as to what their offspring might have turned out like. The maths teacher who is also one of the assistant heads and thinks he’s Michael Caine, planting his evil seed inside the other maths teacher who also happens to be my head of year and enemy number one. Mr. Anstiss truly is a prat. You can tell that all the other teachers recognise that he is a total twonk. Most will allow you to speak openly in front of them about what a prize c**t he really is. Everyone agrees. Well, apart from the maths teacher he got down to business with. He shows off. Thinks he’s cool. Power trip. Right wing. Loves punishing kids for no reason, just to show who’s boss. He’s probably about 28 years old. She’s about the same age as him, although gives off the aura of someone much older. Another one the other teachers don’t seem to like. Broom stuck up her arse. Absolutely fucking stinks of stale fags and coffee. Tall and rigid. Whose office I am forever stood outside, sent to her as punishment, almost exclusively for ‘backchat.’ Kids being systematically dissuaded from developing their quick wit. The teachers want kids to be dumb and obedient. But it won’t ever work. Because certain kids can’t be reined in. And those kids will always exist. The teachers couldn’t match me verbally. I could destroy them, and regularly did. So they would just send me out of the class. Every day. But I did make other kids laugh, so it was worth it. Wasn’t it? Actually, no, not really.

—–

On the second page in, ironically, is a picture of the second girl I ever loved. Exclusively between 1996 and 2000. Also unrequited. Obviously. She actually asked me out in Year 4, ha, when we were 10 years old. I said no. Idiot! Because by Year 7 she had blossomed into the most beautiful girl in the school. And I remembered how she had asked me out three years earlier. And because of this memory I overconfidently asked her out when we were in Year 7. In the cloak room at the end of the day. My purple Spurs rucksack hanging loosely in my left hand. She said No. And would stick to that answer forever more. So I just worshipped her from afar for the next few years. Well not from that far afar. She was in my form and also almost every one of my classes. And we were friends. She was always nice to me, but then she was always nice to everybody. And never fancied herself. And never played on her looks. And years and years later we spoke a bit. On Facebook. And she’d grown into a beautiful woman, with the same warm personality. And she’s happily married and has started a family. And it gives me a little bit more belief that good things do happen to good people.

—–

On page 41 there’s a photo of the kid who did a shit on the skylight above my form room. One Monday morning me and the rest of my class are standing around waiting for the teacher to turn up when someone says ‘Fucking hell, look at that!’ and points up to the skylight above our heads. And we all look. And we all fall about the floor laughing. There’s a shit on the skylight. Someone has climbed onto the roof of the school and done a poo. Brilliant. It didn’t take too long for the authorities to find the guilty culprit and suspend him. Think it was about half a day before their investigative skills paid off. Idiot who had done it had gone up onto the roof over the weekend with a mate. The mate had told a select few. The select few had told pretty much everybody. The head of year pulled in the mate for questioning, the mate gave up the culprit instantly. Part of his punishment was that he had to go up onto the roof and clean it himself. But this took a few days to organise and in the meantime the turd above our classroom remained to keep us all highly amused. The kid who done it would forever be remembered as the kid who shat on the skylight. Nasty piece of work he was. A little rat boy. So was his mate who grassed him up. Two little scumbags.

—–

Yes! There’s a teacher in my school called Mr. Hards. Excellent! Mr. Hards! Why is that even funny? It shouldn’t be. But it is.

Dibujo*More 90s musings to follow shortly….

Click here to read part 2
And here for part 3

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One Response to “Looking Back On The Mid 90s (with the help of my school yearbook) (Part 1)”

  1. ChasingWaterfalls March 5, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    It’s great to reminisce! I found my school leavers book. All the people you forget over the years and their faces come back in an instant! Good work!

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