Year one is over for secondary school. I’ve gone from being top of the heap in primary school to bottom of the heap in secondary school.
Puberty is not arriving (physically) as quickly as it could (mentally I was there, mind like a sewer, sweating like a nun in a field of cucumbers over anything with tits) so the main skill of 1984 was learning not to get the living shit kicked out of you.
Luckily for me, the Capuchins are running a tight ship at this point where brains are prized over brawn so I’m kept away from the most vicious action. They also have a special man known as (I shit you not) ‘The Dean of Discipline’. AKA Brother Edward, AKA Ned, AKA Dinna (you’d have to have been there to get the last AKA).
For the 5 years I was there he was a fearsome monster who scared the living shit out of me. Since I left, grew up and met him in real life he has become one of those people who I have a profound admiration for. Not least because he could see that the job he had was likely to make a monster out of him and he struggled with this more that the students did. You could also see (once you left) that he had the best interest of the students at heart while many of the teachers didn’t give a tuppence.
Anyway, following the ‘gimme’ of missing Scout Camp in 1983 we were in for no hope of that in 1984. Things were slightly better at this stage though. For a start it wasn’t going to be in a wet field in Ireland. It was in sunny Gilwell. This is just outside Chingford and just inside the M25. As a 13 year old scout this was as glamorous as it got. London, motorways, the Tube, Escort magazine (not about old Fords in case you’re wondering) copious opportunities to shop lift crap from motorway service stations.
I had the Golden Pencil with me now for company as well so it was hard to be lonely with family around.
As well as that between 1982 and 1984 there had been a bit of a regime change among the leaders in scouting so the quasi-military brigade had been ousted by people who liked Wham.
All of this was coupled with a glorious spell of weather.
There were two or three very strong memories from this trip and in no particular order they are:
Seeing yuppies in a convertible Golf GTi and thinking: What a shower of selfish cunts.
Realising that the quiet forest lanes of Epping and the areas inside and around the M25 were the perfect hunting ground for deranged psychopathic rapists and killers. I still have this deep feeling and I’ve spoken to the Golden Pencil about it and he agrees. He remembers it from the same trip. Mind you, we also both think that English girls (as opposed to Welsh or Scottish) are really dirty and will do it in a pub toilet with you on the first date so we might not have a completely balanced view on this. Or then maybe we do. Who knows?
Being collected by our Cousin Louise and her French boyfriend (Michel) and being driven to Trafalgar Square in their Renault 5. Lousie was first generation British and was shocked to hear about our ‘scouting diet’ of chocolate, cornflakes and tea and biscuits.
Having had a good look at the Golden Pencil and his xylophone rib cage she whisked us off to McDonalds where he ate 2 Big Macs. (I was more of a Fish-o-Fillet man myself). Afterwards she bought us a big bag of fresh cherries. I know it sounds ridiculous but cherries were about as exotic as it got for us.Wandering around central London on a warm summer evening eating a bag of cherries.
We were dropped off with a bag of Thornton’s toffee each and full stomachs.
We have both been eternally grateful to her to this day (although I’m sure that she either doesn’t remember or was just shocked at what we were allowed to eat). Incidentally, she went onto marry said boyfriend, Michel and now has grown up children of her own.
So that was scout camp.
1984 was also the first year that I think I really began to rebel against my parents.
You know when your mother says things like: ‘You’re no help to me these days! Where’s the nice young boy I used to have?’ To which you just grunt a ‘Uugh?’
Come to think about it, you could easily change wife for mother – the life of man: constant struggle with other’s disappointment in you!
Anyway, trying to eak out your teenage identity in mid-1980’s Ireland was about as glamorous as it sounds. Think – no internet, no broadband, no multi-channel TV, no porn, no disposable income, mass every week, no sun holidays. Cool, huh? It makes me think that this current recession is a doss.
Generally the life of a teenage boy can be summed up in one word: sex
or three words: lack of sex
You know those surveys where they say that women think about chocolate once every 30 mins and about sex once a day. Well, teenage boys thinks about food about once an hour, about sport once a day and about sex once every 3 minutes. It’s hard to avoid as something as simple as sitting down or cycling can get the old diamond cutter going.
Los Angeles Olympics