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That terrible, traumatic event happened during the early hours of 2nd
January 1988. My mother was rushed to hospital, screaming and howling
with severe pain and agony, my father right by her side. Taken into a
room, shielded from sight, her yells could be heard haunting the halls
of the hospital for hours after. A few surgeons, and a couple of hours
later, the inevitable happened. I was born.
And so it began.
The crying, the dirty nappies, the constant attention.... looking
after me wasn’t easy. Or so I’m told. I can’t really remember much
from my younger years. This is probably because (as my cousin admitted
to me a couple of months ago), I was frequently dropped on my head
when I was younger (by accident of course!). But, from what I do
remember, I seemed to be quite a happy child. Being the first born
child to my parents, I was bathed in love and happiness. That lasted a
good couple of years until both of my brothers were born. Then I
watched as I was shoved to the back and they took the limelight. But I
didn’t mind…the attention was beginning to bother me anyway.
First day at school
I can’t remember much of the years I spent at playgroup and nursery.
But my first day is something is something I will never forget.
I remember that day because it was my first day of freedom. Free from
parental guidance and restrictions for one whole day...well, at least
until lunchtime. That was good enough for me.
My mum left me at the gates, weeping about “finally taking my own
footsteps”...or something like that. I remember my first ever teacher,
Miss. Cox. She was covered in sickly, sweet smelling perfume and had a
face that was overly caked in some sort of white powder-which I later
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I made class history for being the first ever person to be told off.
And all I did was refuse to sit on the floor. I didn’t understand why
the teacher got to sit in a nice, big comfy red chair, while we were
rejected to the floor. But, as my mother explained, that was what
school was about. You had to gradually work your way upward, and as
you did, you would gain more and more.
I enjoyed primary school. There was no pressure put on you and it was
a fun environment to grow up in. A huge part of me still wishes that I
were there now.
But all good things in life have to end at some point or another,
To be honest, I was looking forward to moving up in the world. Six
years in the same place became tedious after a while, I needed a
change. Leaving primary school was a scary, exhilarating experience
for me. All the pupils in my year minus around ten were heading to the
local comprehensive. I was one of those ten. My journey was taking me
in the direction of a grammar school. I was scared, and secretly
thrilled, as it meant leaving my old friends, but starting afresh, and
making my first footsteps on my own.
So, there I was. With the joys of primary school firmly behind me, I
embarked on that voyage of maturity and self-discovery at high school.
Of course, I took my trademark year seven bag that was big enough to
fit in everything ranging from a map of the school to a compass (in
case I got lost) and a lunchbox that contained enough food to feed the
whole of the third world for a day.
I also took Chuckie with me. Chuckie was a bear that I had had since I
was two years old. Whenever I was in need of consolation, or scared, I
would just go to Chuckie and he would seem to magically make things
better. Although I was at that stage in my life where I should have
grown out of carrying around old, dilapidated, dog-eared bears with
me, I just couldn’t leave him behind. He was the only thing in my life
that I knew was never going to change or go away, and I felt safe with
I still have Chuckie in fact. If you look closely enough you can see a
small hole developing just behind his leg. I think it might be a sign
that the end of his lifetime is near. I suppose I saw Chuckie as being
a source of never-ending, unconditional love. Although my parents
loved me, I couldn’t help feeling hurt when they told me off, or when
I did something I wasn’t supposed to. Chuckie on the other hand would
just give me one of his “I know it seems bad now, but believe me,
things will get better” looks, and that in itself would cheer me up in
High school scared me in a way, as there was always something new
happening and you never knew what was going to be around the corner.
It was very different from primary school in many ways. Everyday,
something new, and customarily exciting happened, that would make
primary school seem less and less enticing by the day. I don’t know
what it was that made it seem so attractive. Maybe it was the fact
that I was growing up…moving onto the next stage in my life. All I
knew was that secondary school was where we chose the paths for who we
were going to become later in our lives, and I wanted to make sure I
chose the right path.
After the titillation and surprises of the first year, school seemed
to become less and less fun, and more and more work. The beginning of
secondary school signalled the deterioration of my social life. No
longer did I go out to play on the streets, or meander around the
local shopping centre with my friends…no, instead I was at home,
working my socks off to achieve the best grades I possibly could.
I suppose in the end, it would pay off, and I would be the one
enjoying all the benefits the educational experience would bring. But
when you’re working so hard, you don’t tend to think of the rewards
you will reap in the future, but focus on the things you’re missing
out on now. As much as I complained about school and how stressful it
was, I have to admit that I would have rather been at school putting
my time to a useful purpose, than at home, watching two women
squabbling over a man who was actually married to another woman in the
latest instalment of Jerry Springer, no matter how riveting it was.
Then came the move. My parents announced that we would be moving house
to Kingston, which was quite a long distance from my school. This
obviously meant that I would have to move school. You would probably
think that someone in my situation to be upset to say the least, but
the funny thing was.... I wasn’t. Of course, I would miss my friends,
but I also felt that this was another chance for me.
So there I was, first day at a new school, decked out in my crisp,
slightly stiff uniform, all nervous and shy. It’s funny how little you
think about certain things or notice them till they’re actually right
there in front of your eyes. I spent the whole summer holiday before
the actual move thinking about everything and anything except the new
school. It’s not that I didn’t want to, it was just that it hadn’t
really hit me.
But when my father drove up and I saw the extensive, huge building
where I would be spending the next few years of my schooling, I became
apprehensive. What if they didn’t like me?
What if I was shunned by the class and left to eat my lunch on my own?
What if no one wanted to help me around on my first day?
I was a ball of nerves. But my father calmed me down. I remember what
he said to me while we were sitting in the car, “just go in there and
be yourself.” And that’s what I did.
The butterflies hit me as soon as I walked over the threshold of what
was to be my new classroom. But my father’s words of wisdom stuck in
my head. So what if they didn’t like me? Tough. I wasn’t going to
change for them, or for anyone else.
Thankfully, everything worked out just fine. I quickly made friends,
and starting a new school wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It
was fun, meeting new people, and getting to know new things. It was
almost like learning another language.
At first, you find it quite hard to get everything right, but as you
go along, you become more familiar with the words, until you are fully
acquainted with their meanings.
And that has been my life so far. As short as my time has been on this
earth so far, I still feel that I have learnt many valuable lessons,
which I shall keep with me for the rest of my life. Life is a fickle
thing, it has its up and downs. I know I’ve had my fair share. But in
the end, I have learnt that as long as you always remain pessimistic
then you won’t be upset when things do really get that bad. And if
they do... you’ll always have your teddy to hold onto.
I would like to leave you, the reader, with one of my most favourite
quotes of all time. It comes from the film, Forrest Gump, and I think
it sums up my life as well as life itself.
“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to
Because for every coffee cream you choose, there’ll always be twice as
many caramel cups left.