Peanutting, Games and everything else that happened at an all boys’ grammar school
Rugby was life
Boys’ grammar schools tend to get the same bad rep as elitist schools like Eton, just like an Aldi version of the Bullingdon Club. We also experience the same shade thrown from people who went to local comprehensive schools who think we’re just a bunch of posh boys who can’t speak to girls – only the latter is true. Those within the school were split into two groups: you were either tutored to get in, or were actually really bloody clever. Schooling was a bizarre experience which combined a sense of comprehensive camaraderie, private school extra-curricular activities and constant sports. By sports, we mean Rugby. And only Rugby.
Talking to the opposite sex was a problem
Girls were a myth, a legend of epic proportions. If, like many grammar schools, you had a rival girls school either separated by a road or a glorified fence which would give Trump’s Mexico plans a run for his money, your contact with them was limited to say the least. The most interaction you had with “them” was during orchestras, plays or the hour bus journey home. You would make awkward jokes that would make the girls feel incredibly uncomfortable, the girls would find you either annoying, clingy or wet.
It would take you a whole year of speaking to that special someone before asking them out, the furthest you went was a hug at the bottom of the drive and they dumped you after two weeks because the girl fancied a rugby lad more. Sixth form sorted the men from the boys: those who spoke to the girls during free periods or lessons together and those who continued to giggle, look to the floor and play with their PSPs when a girl looks their way.
Punishments were varied
Only about two or three kids in the class ever get detentions as the teachers would rather they rushed off home at 3:35pm than stay for an extra hour and look after the delinquents. It wasn’t uncommon for you to spend your lunch times standing outside a classroom with your face against the wall as teachers came past and tutted at you – all because you dared to breathe too loudly in a chemistry lesson?
You always heard of the ‘Headmasters Detention’ on Saturday morning where you would be scrubbing toilets, picking blue tac off walls and polishing the trophies. No one you know ever did it, but by God you would never want that to happen. Top tip: if your parent was a governor, you can get away with literally anything as the senior leadership team would be too terrified to punish you.
The backstory of some teachers proved they were all weird
There were lots of teachers that were in relationships with other teachers – either low key affairs or actual marriages. They were often weird pairings and you would never put the two together. All the teachers were weird to be honest; they probably went to the exact school they’re teaching at. You also absolutely hated it when a new teacher came to the school trying to bring a new method of teaching in or some kind of new assembly. No Mr Gilbert, I will not make a speech to the entire year.
You also had to stand every time a teacher entered the room and had to be “given permission” to sit down. This awkwardness was only matched by the bizarre tradition in Assembly when the headteacher walks in with their sassy af robe and you all had to stand up in eery silence.
‘Do your top button up’ was the most common phrase in the corridors
Your shirt was untucked. Your blazer was off. Your top button was undone. And the biggest crime, the knot on your tie was as wide as your head. You left your tie short to stop people peanutting you. Still, your mates would just grandad you instead.
Everyone got awarded some kind of new tie at some point
First team captain at rugby? Here’s some colours. Won the county swimming gala? Here’s some colours. Helped an old lady cross the road? Here’s some colours.
Sport, sorry… Games was annoyingly important
Rugby was the backbone of your school. You had to do a bit on induction day and you couldn’t escape it from the moment you walked into the gates in Year 7 for the first time. If you were not good enough at rugby, you were forced to do hockey in Games. Even if you excelled in any of the thousands of sports at school, Rugby was more important than anything else.
The undying loyalty to your house
Nothing meant more to you than smashing the long jump on Sports Day for your incredible pretentiously named House, whilst hearing the roaring of all the crowds cheering on the 4 x 100 relay around the sports track. But House Assemblies were always unnecessarily long and you never really understood the point of hearing how Jack in Year 9 got the record in butterfly at the swimming trials.
School trips were incredible
Your whole year trips in lower school were kinda shit, but fabulously shit. You either went on a slightly badly organised outdoor pursuits holiday in Wales or a weekend away in a uni halls to do arts and crafts. But, as you got older you were able to go to more exotic places like China, Japan and America; there’s always the same group of rich kids that go on all the skiing trips and expensive holidays.
Everyone was incredibly irritating when discussing grades
“I only got an A, I’m sooooooo disappointed.” Oh fuck off Dan.
The school song meant a lot to you
You cried when you sang it for the final time in Year 13 and you’re not ashamed.
You knew who was going to be Head Boy from Year 7
You didn’t like him.
Not going to uni wasn’t an option
If you didn’t apply for Russell Groups, people genuinely asked if something was up.
You were forced into extra curricular activities
But in a way you’re happy about it. You were out of place if you didn’t play an instrument, weren’t in the school play, weren’t taking part in Maths Challenges and not taking part in the debating society. Even if you didn’t enjoy playing an instrument, you always kept it going so you could miss most of a lesson every week – 30 minutes missed out of GCSE Physics was the dream. The school plays were always high production; lots of money was spent on them and they were always sold out productions – even if the lead actor was a tad wooden on stage. You actually enjoyed supporting the school.
You thought you were cool if you were smoking at the bottom of the drive before going to school
Lunchtime was epic
Whether you would be trolling the librarian, eating roast dinners in the canteen or playing rugby on the fields, you were pretty much able to do what you liked at break. When snow fell it was a fight to the death on the fields and nothing can beat the playground highlight of the year: Year 11 vs Year 10 British Bull dog was the brutal highlight of the year.
You sported all the iconic fashion trends of the noughties
Essentially you looked like Gareth Gates during Pop Idol for about 5 years of school – you wore so much gel that your hair would be fabulously rigid when playing football on the playground. You looked even better when you were able to undo your top button, ties off and sleeves rolled up when it was summer weather.
The friendships you made will stand the test of time
Most people there were one needle short of a haystack, yourself included. The nickname you got in Year 7 stuck with you until the end of your time there – none of them ever made sense and most were mildly offensive. You didn’t stick to a particular group of people and school wasn’t divided into rugby, music and geeky lads because most of you were all three of those things. Not only did your brother probably go to the same school, but you were pretty much friends with all his friends’ brothers too. There was always a group of kids however who would be playing on Nintendo DS’ in the cloakroom.
Overall, the friends you made at school will stick with you for the rest of your life; they will always be up for a pint during uni holidays and you meet up like a group of old men and discuss how you miss the good old days of not applying for grad schemes, paying rent and writing your dissertation.
You wish you were back
Your schooling helped you prepare for uni because you were used to endless seminar-style lessons in A-Level English and the more relaxed attitude towards learning in general. You miss the days where being invited to a girl’s house party deemed you “cool” and where the biggest drama going on in your year, was when that one lad got a C when he was predicted an A*. You miss the huge sixth form holiday with the girls school to Maga especially. You miss school more than you admit, hence why you go to all the alumni events because you need to feel young again.