Did you go to a state school?

A comprehensive student in crisis? PAIGE SMEATON will let you in on a secret

backs bums Cambridge compass comprehensive school GCSE school vodka

Do you sometimes wake up in the night shaking with fear? Do you find yourself staring into the distance with a hardened look in your eyes?

Is your voice as grizzled as a chain-smoking pirate’s from a past shanking in the throat? Are you in fact a chain-smoking pirate?

Then congratulations, you’ve probably survived the comprehensive system too.

The most important thing to bear in mind is that you are not alone.

Others do exist, hiding in small underground pockets often in the deepest shadows of the backs.

Perhaps you’ve spotted us, we all wear cravats and tweed: this isn’t to blend in, this isn’t pretentious, it’s to hide the scars.


The fat tie of comps

We like to think of ourselves as a society of sorts. It’s a bit like Alcoholics Anonymous (but with more alcohol) and we’re here to help you.

In the old days I too was a murderous comprehensive student.

I saw the error of my ways when I was expelled for cutting someone’s head open with a spoon.

I was three and ever since then I have dedicated my time, resources and therapeutic vodka supply to helping fellow comp students in need.

Generous offerings

Generous offerings

But what are we about? Who are we for? Well…

Personally I didn’t know what a blazer looked like before I came to study in Cambridge. Or a lacrosse stick. Or a gin and tonic. Instead I knew the fearsome properties of a mathematical compass and basic self defence.

Indeed, one of my most terrifying comprehensive school memories was when a woman confessed to me that she couldn’t understand Shakespearean language.

This woman was my A level English teacher and her confession was made three months prior to our A2 examinations.

If this were a state school all these kids would be smoking and pregnant

If this were a state school all these kids would be smoking and pregnant

I knew what shanking was before I was aware that shanking was even a word.

I remember the leaking classrooms, the asbestos, the smoking radiators (if you were lucky enough to have radiators) and the chokey.

If your maths teacher couldn’t count, if your home economics teacher didn’t know what a pestle and mortar was, if your chemistry teacher didn’t know about electrons and your geography teacher couldn’t tell the difference between longitude and latitude and taught your GCSE through the medium of old American rock songs and miscellaneous youtube videos, then this is probably the place for you.

To this day I still don’t know what a levee is, just that Don McLean once took a Chevy there.

So if you were once forced to go to arbitrary counselling after having stabbed the headmaster’s son with a pencil…

We are here for you, we share your pain. You’re safe now, you’re at Cambridge and they can’t hurt you here.