The Highs & Lows of High School
A few years passed and things settled down, I still had hot baths, still went for long walks. High school was okay I guess. I had friends but I wasn’t with the ‘in crowd’ so I felt unnoticed. Which was a good thing I guess as I got my work done and had good reports. Back then our school system was year 1 – year 5 then 6th form, by the time I reached year 4 I started to break out my shell a bit. I was tired of being overlooked. My friends smoked in the toilets and I was the ‘look out’ person in case the dinner ladies or teachers on patrol came around. Until one of the girls had a barney and insisted I took a puff as she thought if I didn’t I’d snitch on them. So I reluctantly started smoking at age 14… sad but true.
Nearly everyone had a boyfriend or girlfriend, I wasn’t sure I wanted one too. I thought maybe it was a chance to cover the past having someone to like me like I wanted to be liked. My friends giggled and teased that Shaun Tate fancied me and wanted to ask me out. Shaun was nice looking and quiet but he was part of the ‘In Crowd’ it was my golden ticket to be noticed. Well Shaun Tate did ask me out. Don’t be alarmed, back in my day ‘going out’ meant you hung around together at break-times and walked home together with him hugging you around your shoulders. The odd cinema if you lied to your parents that you were going out with Suzi down the road! No one ever went out, with what money? with whose permission? Shaun walked me to the bus stop a few stops down from my usual stop so we could talk a while together. There was a day we walked through the park and it was a bit chilly, in-fact very chilly. We stopped by a bench further into the park and sat down. There was this awkward silence and then he leaned over to kiss me, Shaun Tate kissed ME. He put his hand on my shoulders and kissed me again. He was very gentle yet I could tell he was nervous as hell, maybe his first time as it became sloppy. We kissed again this time with our mouths open and our tongues out.. Huge Yuk! Oh my goodness, I felt his saliva run down the side of my mouth. My first real kiss and it was DISGUSTING. That was the first and last time we kissed, we broke up soon after that.
I started to bunk classes and wrote notes forging my mums signature. I never left the school grounds I just spent loads of time smoking in the girls toilets. My character was changing and the teachers started to notice I was getting a little cheeky. One time I went too far, I was walking down the corridor with my chain hanging out my shirt, My R.E teacher saw me and said to put my chain inside my shirt. I cheekily and disrespectfully answered ‘ whats your problem its got a cross on it hasn’t it. Well who told me to say that?? Mum was called for a meeting down the school, dad never came. Lord have mercy on my soul! A lot of my friends parents charged down the school like a bull in a china shop to have a go at the teachers or the kids themselves that troubled their little angels. Not my Grenadian/Trinidadian ole school strict mum that believed wholeheartedly in ‘Don’t spare the rod’, my mum would not think twice about beating me in front of the whole school.
The day came and I was told to go fetch my mum from the reception. She was breathing with flared nostrils. Out of five children I was the only one she had to be called down the school for. She had to miss work to come for this appointment which made her even more furious. I walked 5 steps in front all the way to Sirs office. We sit down and trying to find all the excuses to talk all the problems I created away. Sir was really nice though, he just said they noticed a change in my behaviour and was just concerned that I changed my friends for the worse and my attitude was becoming like them. Sir emptied out a envelope with all these documents, my documents. They kept all those little notes, what the heck, I thought they read it and threw them away. I glimpsed the signatures and for the first time I realised how majorly fake they looked. I sat there praying My mum wouldn’t notice. ‘He’ really does love me as she noticed not one. Never again was I cheeky, no way could I do anything for my mum to come down to the school unless it was for Parents Evening.
Fifth year, the last year of high school unless you was a geek and stayed on to sixth form. There were a few subjects that I liked, Social Studies, English, German and Home Economics. R.E was annoying as we studied every other religion in depth other than Christianity.
Now miss know it all as I was, I had my heart set on becoming a top chef, all I needed was to know how to cook and my my mum was teaching me well. R.E was no use, Social Studies no use and as for maths, like was I really going to go into a shop and ask for two square root of bananas??
Dear Mr Pratt was our maths teacher. looking back I realised he was young but so obese that he was such an easy target to take the mick out of and stress him out in class.
I was hopeless at any times tables that didn’t have a pattern for easy learning. Long division was truly long and equations and fractions and those silly symbols and using letters for numbers made no sense. What did make sense though was sitting at the back of the class and spending the lesson with rounds of Black Jack. I roped in a couple players at a time taking it in turns to play one on one, due to the lay out of the desks we couldn’t have more players.
That was the only thing that made us look forward to maths. The odd times we would get caught by Pratt and my cocky answer was ‘ Its numbers ennit!’ He advised once he advised twice then told me one day I would amount to nothing then never bothered me again. Who cared, I didn’t, chefs don’t need maths! Oh boy…
The final weeks of the end of school was approaching and excitement was building of the annual Fifth year disco. Then they hit us one morning in assembly, ‘You are by far the worst year group we have taught and undeserving of an end of year disco.’
No disco… no disco… no way. So a few of us banded together to plan our own party in the sixth form common room during a lunch hour.
Everyone in was to buy or bring a bottle from home. I covered my back to a point, I told mum that we were having an end of year party ( obviously run by the school!) and I needed to bring a drink, I explained the teachers said we were allowed Babycham as it was a special occasion. My mum fell for it as Babycham was considered a light drink suitable for children, I was always allowed it at our family parties.
During morning break we took off our blazers and school tie and went down to the Triangle Off License. Looking back I have no idea how we thought we looked old enough to buy alcohol or even how the shop attendant served us.
At the end of our lesson I advised, ( like I’m a big time drinker), ‘don’t drink on an empty stomach. Make sure and eat something and drink milk to line the stomach so not to get sick’… Well that’s what I thought to be correct.
The sixth form common room was buzzin, Black jack in one corner and drinks and laughter in the next. Noone had an idea how to handle themselves, they just drank for drinking sake. There was Thunderbird, Babycham, Captain Morgan, Tenents and Special Brew.
Against my advie they just drank from each.. a cocktail was brewing in their bellies. Next thing I know they were legless. by the time we went to our next lesson we were as they said back then ‘cark.’
I was in maths sitting at the back of class, no black jack, just trying to keep a clear head. All of a sudden the door barged open and our head of year stormed in, no explanation. He stood and pierced his eyes around scanning the room, his eyes and finger pointed to me and Len ‘YOU…YOU.. OUTSIDE MY OFFICE NOW,’ The task was to stand up and walk in a straight line which was real shaky but I had to keep steady so I could play this down.
I managed to walk passed him still standing talking sternly to the rest of the class asking who else was involved in the binge.. O my God how did he know? as soon as I walked passed him I skidaddled down to his office, I had to get a clean distance so he couldn’t see me swagger.
To get to sirs office I had to pass the medical room, and there was the reason… Jenna and Waverley sitting there with their heads in buckets bringing up cocktails! I was so mad… ‘man I told them to line their stomachs and take it easy not to get drunk.’ I sobered up immediately.
I was questioned intensely but I kept it together. I told sir we just wanted to celebrate and ONLY had Babycham!!! I explained even my mum said a little Babycham was okay but didn’t realise you could get tipsy on it. He bought it! He then hit me with a bomb shell… He already rang my mum and she was on her way to pick me up as I wasn’t allowed in school under the influence of alcohol.
There was just one more problem… I told Sir that we only had Babycham, yet a flashback reminded me of the bottles and cans of alcohol we stuffed down the toilets. Yes, I ran down to the common room, grabbed a plastic bag from the bin and picked out those damn bottles and cans out the toilets. ( wasn’t so funny now!). I carried them off the school grounds before my mum got there and put them in a public street bin. That was a close call.
My mum drove up, nostrils flared, eyes protruding and I was like where and how can I run? Praise God my darling uncle Ken was with her and he kept saying ‘Eli leave de chile alone nuh,’ in his soft trini accent, ‘She dun get boof up by she teacher and sent home, she’ll not do this again.’ Mum sighed and told me sharply to get in the car. I jumped in so fast just in case she changed her mind last minute to beat me in public.
Waverley and Jen were off school for a good few days. After it all blew over we laughed about it and still do to this present day.
Exams were excruciating. The only date in history I could remember was the Battle of Hastings 1066. I got okay’ish grades but the worst was maths… are you surprised?! I remember on the exam day I had written my name, form and date on the front page, turned over the page and stared at gobbledegook… I turned back over the page and sat there in silence until everyone had finished. Black Jack got me a C.S.E grade of a ‘U’ the lowest possible mark meaning ‘ungraded.’
My best grades were in Home Economics of course.
That was it for me, no more high school.