School Reunion

A few weeks ago someone posted an old school photograph on facebook. I looked at it briefly, showed Andy my terrible haircut and went off and did something else. In the meantime the photograph of me got tagged as someone else (!) and everyone I went to school with crawled out of the woodwork to reminisce about how wonderful school was and how we should have a reunion.

I’ve found a number of things about this whole situation utterly baffling, the first being how many children my former classmates have accumulated between them! This shouldn’t be a surprise given that at least one girl in my year was pregnant before we took our GCSEs but somehow it is. 

The second thing that confounded me was the amount of nostalgia for high school. I’m the first one to stand up and say I loathed almost every minute of my time there but I cannot believe that none of these people have done anything more enjoyable with their lives in the past twelve years. That bunking off school, bullying anyone who looked at you the wrong way and possessing a vastly inflated sense of your own importance for a few years over a decade is actually all some people can pinpoint as the high point of nearly three decades on this planet. I’m not claiming my life is any kind of glittering trail of achievements but everything I’m proud of I achieved once I left school…

The final thing was how irrelevant my school days now seem to me. It used to be a big deal that I hated school but as I’ve got older I realised that most people had a horrific high school experience. I literally never think about it these days, there are no repressed memories – it just has absolutely no relevance to my life. 


30 Day Music Challenge: Day Six

Day Six: A Song That Reminds You of Somewhere

I’m cheating slightly because this song reminds me of a school trip *to* somewhere rather than the actual place itself. However this is my music challenge and I can cheat if I want to so there!

When I was in Year 10 – so approximately 14 – I, along with a bus load of my classmates, went on a GCSE History trip to Belgium. This was a memorable trip for many reasons: it was my first trip overseas without my parents and one of the most effective ways of demonstrating the futility of war to a bunch of adolescents that I can think of. The First World War cemeteries of Belgium and Northern France are one of the saddest sights I have ever seen and even the coolest kids on the trip cried at headstones dedicated to boys barely older than us who had lied about their ages just to go to war. I’ve never forgotten the sight of those graveyards and as an outstandingly privileged generation we should never forget the sacrifices that our grandparents and great-grandparents generation made so that we could be free.

However, despite the fact that it was a very emotional trip, we were all still a bunch of silly teenagers who spent their evenings sneaking into one another’s rooms and trying to work out how to sneak out of the hotel. We also listened to Belgian MTV a lot which was a mixed blessing because it only played about four songs including Oops I Did It Again by Britney and Freestyler by Bomfunk MCs amongst other hideousness – but luckily it also played All the Small Things by Blink-182. I’m a huge fan of pop-punk, I might even go so far as to say it’s my favourite genre of music but when I was 14 I neither knew nor cared – I just loved this song and it still reminds me of that trip to Belgium every time I hear it!

“Late night, come home
Work sucks, I know
She left me roses by the stairs
Surprises let me know she cares

Say it ain’t so, I will not go

Turn the lights off, carry me home 
Na na na na na na…

Things I wish I’d known when I was 16…

This is a bit different – my week has involved quite a bit of shouting about various things in my life so I’m not really in the mood for political ranting… However there’s a topic that’s currently trending on twitter – #tweetyour16yearoldself – and reading other people’s thoughts all day has made me think a lot about what exactly I would say if I had just a few minutes with myself at 16.  I remember that, at 16, I really felt like I’d lived a lot of my life already and that my path was already fixed,  I couldn’t have been more wrong if I’d tried – in reality it was the point at which I started becoming the person I am today. 
So please step into my DeLorean – we’re off back to 2001…

Dear Claire-at-sixteen,

1. It doesn’t matter what all those people thought of you in school, in less than ten years time half of them will still be stuck in Wrexham doing exactly the same things with their lives. You, on the other hand, will have escaped – just as you always planned.

2. Stop wasting your time being insecure about your looks – you’re not Kate Moss but that’s ok because she’s a drug taking model! And for god’s sake stop worrying about being fat – you never have been and, if you’re sensible, you probably never will be. So relax and enjoy that sausage and egg bap – Shelly’s will close next year and you might as well enjoy them whilst you can.

3. You like rock music right? Listen to more of it! Buy more CDs and listen to John Peel on Radio 1 whilst you still can.

4. Stop being cynical about relationships – one day you’ll work out why they’re worth all the hassle. Also, when you get your heart broken just remember it’s not the end of the world, it’s just another bump in the road.

5. Don’t cry when you don’t get into Oxford – you’ll get into a university which is just as good and you’ll have the time of your life when you get there.

6. Driving is much harder than you imagined and it’ll take you ages to learn but don’t let that get you down – when you do pass your test (and you will!) it’ll be terrifying at first but absolutely worth the wait.

7. All the quirks in your personality and all the geeky things you’re interested in are the things that make you unique. Don’t pretend to be someone else just to fit in – the people who are worth knowing will love you for who you are.

8. Your sister may be annoying now but she’ll grow up to be an awesome person and one of your best friends. You both just need to grow up first…

9. Your friends and family are really important. Life is tough sometimes and you’ve got a lot of that still to come but you’ll get through it because you’ve got fabulous people around you. Don’t forget to be there for them when they need you.

10. And finally, smile and be happy. It will all work out for the best, just savour every moment.

Love from your twenty-five year old self  – trust me, it’s really not that old once you’re here!