I was a happy 10 year old, life was good, I went on holiday every year with my family, I had a large group of friends and I had 1 really close friend, that’s all you really need at that age. I had had my first crush, Victoria her name was, I had fancied her since reception in primary school, but no matter how many valentines cards I sent her (well 7 as it’s an annual event) my love (crush) was unrequited. It wasn’t the end of the world mind; I don’t think I was old enough to understand love…
At the end of primary school I had high hopes, my friends and I were fantasising about what schools we were going to go to, how much fun we were going to have together. There were two main local schools in the area, most of our older siblings had been, or currently attended them. It seemed like the natural choice. They split quite evenly between the two with my best friend going to School number 2, let’s call it Milehouse for the purpose of this (that sounds like a school doesn’t it? My Brother was in lower sixth at Milehouse, he would be moving into to upper next year, so it would have been awesome to have my older brother as a 6th former. The school wasn’t too far away, there was a bus and my mother had retired so lifts a plenty! (Not without the old ‘I’m not a taxi’ comment here and there)
But it seemed it wouldn’t be that simple for me, I was enrolled to sit the 11+, I don’t know if it was compulsory back then, but as I remember only 3 of my friends (not close ones) took the test. My parents told me it could help me get into a better school, ‘why do I want a better school?!’ I thought, all I need are my friends. Whilst waiting for my results we looked at these ‘better schools’, the first two I mention by name as they have no bearing to me now. Skinners and Judd were two local ‘grammar schools’, grammar schools are for pupils who do well on the 11+ test or who pass entrance exams. They have the benefit of having pupils who are of above average intelligence and who actually want to learn (well that’s the idea) this way they can focus their teaching in a better way. Now this is not to say that people who didn’t go to grammar schools are stupid, far from it, later I will prove this point. Now because I am an animal lover, I outright refused to even look at Skinners, only because it derived its name from the skinning of animals, or so I believed (I was practically a freedom fighter… right?). Now I have little memory of Judd, apart from the fact that it was a school, and I think it was made out of stone… or brick… well it was definitely a building of some sorts… Obviously I was not taken to it instantly otherwise I would have at least remembered the colour of the brickwork (or was it stone?).
Then came the wild card, that part in ‘Location Location Location’ Where Phil & Kirstie would show you a house that was way out of your price range, better than the houses you can afford and make you get such house envy you throw the budget out of the window and prepare for years of debt. I digress, but I liken this to the Third option, I’m going to name Cinque House (ok this sounds like a government building) there is a reason for this name, but I’m not going to tell you what it is. Cinque House was, and probably still is, a Boarding School somewhere in the UK. It was peaceful, surrounded by countryside. The school was nice, not too big. I took a look around the Boarding house; it was a large old building, possibly an old mansion. It had around 50 rooms, 4 floors, winding corridors and a massive garden, ‘It will be just like Harry Potter’ I said to myself, for some reason the thought of being away from my home, my family and my friends just didn’t occur to me. I was far too consumed in the fantasy of going off to a distant land. My parents even bought me a massive trunk, 5 feet long just like the ones that Ron & Harry had. It was so heavy and impractical; I have no idea why someone would actually choose a trunk over a suitcase…
So the day to leave arrived, I was stacked to the eyeballs with supplies, clothes (we had hit peacocks with a vengeance the previous week (it’s like a lesser known Primark)) I don’t recall the journey it wasn’t massively long. We arrived sometime in the afternoon. This grand house in front of us, to be my home for the next 5 years, it looked like something from a horror film, Rose Red perhaps. My room, or ‘dorm’ as it was called, I shared with 3 others, it was bigger than the average living room, with four beds in each corner, each of us had a wardrobe and a small chest of draws. It was basic but enough. I was the first to arrive; naturally I picked the best bed, in the far corner of the room furthest from the door. I set up my stuff had a look around the house and then my Parents took me out for dinner. We started a tradition of every time they would come down we would go to the same pub, I would always order a jacket potato with Prawn mayo.
When it came time for them to leave, it was getting dark. Before I had left for boarding school I had developed an irrational fear of being the last one awake at night, it would terrify me. And if I were the last to sleep, I simply wouldn’t sleep; I would just lie awake all night. The idea of them leaving now, brought on that fear. Suddenly I was alone in the world. 11 Years old I didn’t know anyone apart from the Matron & House parents. There were 40 other boys in the house that I had to get to know, needless to say, this thought was making me sicker by the second.
Now I can’t blame my parents for sending me there, it was completely my choice; despite getting into Judd I was convinced that boarding school would be so much better. I had begged them to let me go. Of course now I was regretting my decision, why had I done this to myself? I asked. I went to my room, still the only one there and sat on my bed. I just didn’t know what to do. I phoned my mum and asked her to come and get me, I wanted to go home.
A short while later the next person in my dorm arrived; let’s call him Tom. He was a lot more confident than me, His mum dropped him off and left shortly after, he was clearly not fazed by being away from his home. How much I wished I could be like that to just seem so comfortable with it. I put on a brave face nonetheless and introduced myself. I actually remember little, in fact, nothing from our first meeting. We didn’t hit it off in any major way, but we didn’t hate each other, which was a positive.
A few hours later, it was close to 7pm now, the third person in our dorm arrived, I’m gonna call him ‘Dick’ (not meant in an offensive way) Dick and Tom hit it off much better than I did, they seemed instant best friends. My nightmare was slowly worsening, I had never been a massively social person, and now someone else had taken my only friend here. To be fair to both Tom & Dick, they were trying to be inclusive of me, but we just didn’t share the same interests. I was (some will stay still am) quite a nerd, I liked computer games, tanks, helicopters, I had been obsessed with those little green toy soldiers you could get. Tom & Dick were more mainstream, sports, girls, the stuff that ‘normal’ people talk about. I was holding out all hope for the fourth member of our dorm to be more like me. The fourth person hadn’t arrived by the end of the first day; he was due within the next couple of days. However for the sake of ease I will now introduce him as ‘Harry’ (see what I did there?). Harry, I believe was delayed with flights as he had been out of the country.
The first day of school had arrived, if I had calmed down from being alone at boarding school this pushed my anxiety to a whole new level. I had already messed up making friends with my dorm mates; let’s hope that my classmates would be more like me.
Our first lesson was Science. I was sat at the back with someone called Alex, we were looking through our lesson planner and I noticed that each 35 minutes segment of the day was called a ‘period’. Now I was of that age where these kind of things I found hysterical, so keen to make friends I nudged Alex and showed him. He looked at me and said ‘how old are you?’ and then proceeded to ignore me for the rest of the period. Brilliant, the first person I have met at school now thinks I am immature (well I was immature, but that’s not the point). The first day after that was a bit of a blur, we were introduced to our form mates, I didn’t really hit it off with anyone there either. The day came and went, I was back home, not that I called it home, I might as well have been in a bus stop in the middle of Siberia. I was alone, I was home sick and I had no friends. To make matters worse Harry arrived in the evening, and of course he was going to hit it off with Tom & Dick. I sat on my own at dinner (or tea as they called it?) and I cried myself to sleep, silently as to not to wake my dorm mates. Let’s hope tomorrow will be better…
Stay tuned for part 2 from It will be just like Harry Potter by Scott Ainsworth-Payne!