All the things you learn about life from your bang average state school
Lunchtime detentions were a rite of passage
Going to an average British secondary school was like being forged in the furnace of life. There were bullies to navigate, girls to try and get off with and a deep sense of identity to find and refind three times a term. But there are certain experiences that, although at the time you didn’t realise, made you the person you are today.
There were teachers that were only fit because they were teachers
Miss Manicolo was an absolute babe. Or so we thought at the time. The fevered sexless haze of your early teens made her seem like an angel when she was teaching you to play “The Entertainer” on a battered Yamaha keyboard. By the time you got to Year 10, you saw her for what she really was, kind of OK.
Jamie Oliver changed the food and everyone hated it
Gone were the rice crispy cakes, chips and sweet sweet panda pops. In their place were bags of grapes, sparkling water and FUCKING CARROT CAKE.
On your first day, a year 11 would give you the wrong directions to English
It took me 45 minutes to find E29, I got shouted at by Miss Nash, and I nearly cried.
Someone would set themselves on fire with a bunsen burner
For fuck’s sake Kyle, not again.
Everyone had this keyboard in music
You definitely had to scrape gum off the desk for detention
It was definitely just Mr. Midworth being sadistic, there was absolutely no need for me to spend 45 minutes at lunch with a rusty butter knife scraping of three year old Trident tropical fruit. All I did was not do my Chemistry homework, this is horseshit.
Uniform was seen as a gentle suggestion rather than a real rule
You knew who the hard kids were. They were the ones that weren’t afraid to walk around with a 3cm long tie, fake diamond earrings. The girls had caked on makeup and rolled up their skirts They sat on the back of the bus and played music from tinny speakers and they definitely didn’t give a fuck. You sometimes wondered what the point of doing your tie properly was, when they’d just peanut you anyway.
It was either ridiculously hot or cold
Sure the radiators were on full blast in July, why not? The one day you could actually enjoy the sunshine at school, you were too busy sweating buckets in Mr. Clarke’s Geography lesson on pyroclastic flow and wondering whether lava might actually be colder than E7.
There was “a video” that everyone Bluetoothed around
It took many different forms. Ours was a black and white, almost artistically shot video of someone that was alleged to be a sixth form girl from the school down the road. Apparently she sent it to her boyfriend, who sent it to all his mates, who then sent it round the school till you got it on your orange and black Sony Walkman phone. To this day, you wonder who she was.
Every picture you took is now violently cringeworthy
There were certain urban legends that you were sure started at your school
We all know the one about the white sofa, the boyfriend and girlfriend, and the dog that got put down. We’ve all heard the story of the Starburst and genital warts, and we all thought it was about our school. You may have heard them about Georgia from French or Wes and Sophie from Physics, but we all heard it. You used it as a story to wow at your Inbetweeners-esque house parties, before you went to uni and realised that’s what everyone else was doing and you weren’t special or interesting.
There was a creepy teacher who you definitely thought was a nonce
He taught ICT, he had a wart-covered face and he always made sure the girls’ skirts weren’t rolled up. He doesn’t work at the school any more.
There was a cringey fashion show for the cool kids
Sports day was a huge deal
Even more so if you were one of those comps pretending to be posh and had houses with shit names like Gryphon, Phoenix or Wyvern.
You once made something shit in DT and gave it to your parents as a present
Sure, Dad said he wanted Jeremy Clarkson’s new book and something for the garden. But he was just too shy to say what he really wanted – a roughly hewn dovetail box that didn’t quite shut properly because the lid was about a third of an inch too small. His face may have been painted with a look of complete disappointment, but you know that was only because he didn’t want to make Mum jealous.
Lunchtime was a constant fight to keep the seagulls from attacking
The school I went to was nearly 60 miles from the sea. And yet, like the very same birds that Eric Cantona was banging on about they haunted your existence. The only thing worse than their swooping and attacking was the time they shat on your mate Jack on the way the French.
You were rinsed in the changing rooms for not having armpit hair
In between not showering and talking about how you were gonna try and get with Jess at Katie’s party, you actually had to get changed. There was always someone that still hadn’t got pit hair in year 10, and was mercilessly wrecked for it.
Mufti days were incredibly political
If you didn’t have enough Abercrombie/Jack Wills/ Superdry, you were cast out of the cool kids and relegated to the realms of those who lived with their grandparents and were proud of their BHS knitwear. The older, harder kids wore a lot of Bench and Money Jeans, because football shirts got banned when those two year eights had a fight over the Merseyside Derby
There was always a wanker that forgot
We never let Jacob forget the time he showed up without a pound coin and wearing a tie. He was forever known as uniform wanker.
You either smelled like Lynx Africa or Impulse
Sure, you may have had a brief flirtation with the one that smelled a bit of chocolate, but you always went back to the trusty green and red of Africa. You woke up, sprayed, went to school, sprayed, finished PE, sprayed, never ever showered, but boy did you spray.
Everyone looked forward to the legendary cucumber condom lesson
The second you got through the doors of school, you heard whispers of it. Some said it was a banana, some said it was a dildo, all you knew is that you couldn’t wait to get into Year 11 so you could find out for yourself. Then you did it, and it was actually pretty boring.
The Canteen food was often worse than death
For £1.55 at my school you could get a Pasta King. Watery, sticky pasta that had been sitting on the side for hours was lovingly dunked in some lukewarm water, before a congealed mix of Dolmio-adjacent sauce was smashed on top. It was vile, but there was still a 60 person queue every lunchtime, just to avoid eating the weird actual food, that always came with beans.
There was always a teacher that took it a bit too far
Once I saw a Maths teacher tie Wes to a door by his tie, throw pens at him and call him “a useless boy”. He was from a different time.
Someone had to shave their head because their hair was too “extreme”
Aria wasn’t allowed to keep his mohawk and everyone thought it was BULLSHIT.
There was a block at your school that was “temporary” but never had any signs of being demolished
I started school in 2005 and 10 years later, they’re still teaching textiles in that drafty Portakabin in the middle of the year nine playground. Why?
You joined a club for no reason other than to meet girls
You picked doss subjects without thinking about how it would look down the line
Sure, food tech GCSE was a lot of fun and you made a beaut lasagne that your mum was actually quite proud of but at what cost? You didn’t think about your UCAS and that’s why you ended up at the University of Lincoln.
There were arbitrary bans on ANYTHING
Coloured hair, plugs, shag bands, Livestrong bracelets, football shirts in PE, Nuts, selling sweets in the playground, all fell victim to the deputy head’s authoritarian regime.
Prom was pretty underwhelming
It was the same as every other weekend, but you wore a shit suit from Topman.
Leaving school had a lot of weird traditions
For some reason leaving meant that you wrecked your uniform and fucked up everyone else’s day for no reason.
You left and then realised that unless you made effort, you just wouldn’t see people
Coming back from uni for the first Christmas, you find out that the old gang will probably never be back together. You think of all those times dicking around on the playground, the field and by the school gates where the cool kids used to smoke and you think to yourself, “I actually miss school”.