I always enjoyed school as a child. I was that pain in the butt child that always sat on the front row, had his hand up for every question, corrected his teachers when they made mistakes and came up with instant remarks I thought were witty but reminded all the other kids of something their dads would say.
I wanted to please my teachers, so it’s perhaps no surprise I ended up marrying one. Not a teacher that taught me, I might add for those of you that have just picked up the phone to report a crime.
However, the formative years of my schooling coincided with those particularly difficult troubled teenage years. I was a very sensitive soul and a deep thinker and I didn’t fit in very well with my peers and struggled to “find myself”. It took its toll on me and I didn’t get the grades I knew I was capable of, still managed one A, seven B’s and a couple of C’s including a C in ICT (ironic, I know) in my GCSEs but that was enough to get me to college.
If you knew me well back then, you’d know I was a generous, kind hearted person that would save up his dinner money all year in order to buy presents for his family at Christmas. If you didn’t know me that well, I could come across as a bit of a clown. I liked to entertain and wasn’t afraid to make a spectacle of myself.
Every school non-uniform day I’d come in wearing my full Manchester United goalkeeper kit, regardless of the amount of rain that was lashing down at the time under the liquid Mancunian skies or whether we were in the middle of a snow blizzard. I’d be playing football with the lads and lasses from the year above, diving all over the place (I played in goal, the other form of diving hadn’t really been mastered in the English game back then) and I’d end up covered in mud whether I was in a uniform or not. I became particularly adept at saving penalties, probably because I was also particularly adept at conceding penalties with my horrific ninja style tackling.
At times I could be a real bubbly character, the heart of the action but at other times I was quiet as a mouse, shy, sensitive and defensive. That defensiveness combined with a Kevin and Perry style inability to communicate with people could make me come across as a bit of a snob.
My oral communication skills may not have been the best but give me a pen and paper and it was a whole different ball game. Despite having handwriting that looked like a five year old had puked on a page, I developed quite a vernacular and distinct writing style. At that stage I wanted to be a journalist and an author, I still cling onto the vain hope that someday I’ll find enough time to actually write one of the dark gritty Jimmy McGovernesque stories laying in wait at the back of my mind.
School wasn’t all a barrel of laughs though, I was different, I was chunky and I was sensitive, a combination irresistible to the classroom bullies but I found leaving school traumatic. It was almost a Stockholm syndrome type of reaction. At school, I new my place. The best way to describe it would be a Blackadder quote:
Baldrick: And what do I do?
Blackadder: Nothing. You are last in God’s great chain. Unless there’s an earwig around here you’d like to victimize.
I felt like I was the Baldrick of that sketch but still, I knew my place and that at least meant I felt part of something, leaving school and having a great big world of new possibilities out there for me made me feel nervous and insecure.
Outside of the classroom things were different, I got involved with the Interact Club of Prestwich and Whitefield. Interact was the junior branch of the Rotary club. The Rotary club was a bunch of local business men that got together to put something back into their local communities, whether that be through volunteering or raising funds for projects.
It was a great club to be involved in, we raised money for Marie Curie and other local charities and we volunteered at a disabled youth club and had a great time doing so. In my time with the club I performed the role of Treasurer, which gave me the responsibility of the accounts and later became the President, meaning I had to represent the group at a Rotary meeting.
I think this sense of needing to help others came from my mum and from my Christian upbringing. I try to do my bit whenever I can.