School Days

After posting the story of how I was nearly became a member of the rock group The Police, my best friend from those days – Steve – and I compared notes. He pointed out that not only was my memory correct but they also offered him a job as a roadie! And they did too….

However, posting that story got me to thinking. What a hell of a life I have had! Really, very few complaints – well, more money would always be useful but other than that…. So, my next few posts will deal with some events from my life and how I became me….

I couldn’t wait to leave home and Hull. Wolfreton School did me well in that I got a good education – 9 “O” levels, 2 “A” levels and distinction on my Geology special paper. Not quite good enough to get me to University and I literally wrote by hand to every geology department in the country begging for a place. Frankly, I simply could not stand another year of A level resits at Wolfreton. I was lucky, Hull, Sheffield and Aston all replied to my heartfelt handwritten plea positively and I chose Aston because….. well, it was the furthest distance away from Hull. Good enough reason right? It proved to be a good decision as I graduated three-years later with a first class honours degree and a Ph.D. spot at Strathclyde University north of the border! But, I digress.


My chemistry teacher at Wolfreton was one Mr. Holroyd. He walked with a limp and gathered white stuff on his lips as he spoke. Other than that, he was an OK sort of bloke. He was my chemistry teacher and I am pretty sure he hated me with a vengeance. Could it be my walking around his class singing “I love the sound of breaking glass” I wonder? Or was I just a horrible kid? Who knows and who cares. The fact is I recall visiting the school after getting my B.Sc. from Aston. As luck would have it Mr. Holroyd was the first teacher I bumped in to.

“Hello Gary,” said he actually looking pleased to see me, “How are you?”
“Great thanks, you?” I quipped.
“So, how did you do?” he asks…..
“OK actually thanks. I got a first class honours and am going to start my PhD with a trip to Nova Scotia to do some fieldwork in August,” said I.
I then watch as Mr. Holroyd collapses in hysterical laughter slapping his knee and producing spittle around his mouth. It was comical to watch as he began to understand I wasn’t laughing too. It wasn’t a joke then? He blushed.
“Sorry, I thought you were joking…….. that’s great, just great,” said he as he darted off down the corridor.
“You bastard,” I thought. “Thanks for the bloody confidence.”

My Geology master believed. He had always known. He was chuffed Dougie was. Well chuffed. I was chuffed for him. He deserved success because he was a bloody good teacher. The best I ever had.

Yep, I was well shot of Wolfreton. It was full of over confident teenagers who somehow put me in the category of not quite trendy or worse. I was, shall we say, an outsider in many respects. I liked the wrong music, was useless at sport, was interested in magic and occult and other strange things and I played guitar and sang in a band. I was trying to be above my station. Other than the guy I vaguely knew in my year who went on to co-write and play sax and guitar on all of Sades stuff, I think I probably did much much better than expected.

Free of Wolfreton. Free of my past. Free of people who thought they knew me. Free of teachers like Mr. Holroyd, I rather excelled.

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