Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Part 2 - Teenage Kicks

I think it's safe to say my teenage years weren't a good time for me. Puberty, moody teenager, presumably some sort of condition that we'd not even considered a possibility. Car crash? You're right it was.

Oh and bullying. I've taken an extract from an old blog because a) I've already written it, and b) it quite nicely sums things up. Regular readers of my trawl will possibly remember what follows.

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For several years of my life I was subjected to torrents of abuse every day. Sure, some of it was related to having older parents (my Dad was 51 when I was born) or because we didn’t have loads of spare money for the latest styles, but most of it was down to me being fat. But it’s okay because the teachers sorted it out, right? No, they didn’t. For years while I was being abused on a daily basis and trying not to respond to it, they turned a blind eye to the name calling and the abuse and had ME painted as the troublemaker. I was the one put on report for walking out of lessons to avoid the torrents of abuse I was receiving or the one that was suspended for finally snapping and having a go at a teacher for not doing anything about it. After all it’s easier to deal with one child walking out of lessons than deal with half a dozen constantly abusing one person out of earshot of the teachers, right? Not to deal with the child who stole white paint from the art class to throw at the fat kid in the black t-shirt to see how far it would spread because it’s easier to threaten to expel the kid who snapped and chased after the thief and then accept the story that it was a game and that I was allegedly in on it and didn’t catch the paint, completely turning a blind eye to someone stealing in the first place because it was easier for them. I’m sure if I was at school today, the legal system and the way it is used nowadays would see me suing teachers for not dealing with the situation. And it’s funny that the classes I always performed the best in were those that didn’t have my bullies in - either due to streaming or because they took other options. Funny eh? Maybe it wasn’t me after all. Funnily enough I had a note off one of the bullies on Facebook a few months ago saying that he had no hard feelings and hoped I didn’t (big of him) because it was all just a bit of fun.

Maybe to you it was a bit of fun. To me it was two years of hell that undoubtedly affected my final GCSE grades and were the reason I couldn’t wait to get out of school at the age of 16 to go to college. Because I knew I’d be away from you then. So yeah, bit of fun. No hard feelings.

And yes maybe at school I passed some of the bullying I received down as some form of defence mechanism. I look back on that with some shame but I remember picking on a couple of the weaker kids because I was angry and frustrated at being bullied and nobody being brought to book for it. I remember when I returned to school after my suspension that I was presented with a list of bullying accusations by my deputy head in front of my parents and not given a chance to defend myself. If I had I’d have pointed out that the two people making those accusations were my two main tormentors who were summoned to his office while I was suspended and interviewed together and could just fire off every torrent of abuse they’d given to anybody and attributed them to me.

No hard feelings. Bit of fun.

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I got through college. It was a tough time for me and I'm not sure how I did it, but I did. I had a succession of part time jobs and was sacked from one of them for "having an attitude" - which I undoubtedly did. I had the attitude that if we were 40 minutes late out because the assistant manager spent the evening chatting up the staff he fancied then he had no right to complain we were late finishing when we were finishing off their work. I had the attitude that him doing random security searches at 11pm at night because we'd been covering for people he'd been dossing with all evening wasn't really a good thing. So yes I had an attitude. Ironically 6 months after I left he was demoted and moved to another store for trying it on with female members of staff and having an attitude problem. He who laughs last and all that. I think that sense of right and wrong was instilled in me by my father. It's 25 years on and that still holds true. Do not antagonise a Spong with your injustices!

I'm going to keep this one short and pause at the age of 18 here. Next time I leave the comfy bosom of full time education and move into the world of work. As you can imagine that becomes something of a culture shock to me.

Until next time,

Spong.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Part 1 - The Early Years

I've decided to dust the blog down for the 817th time. Let's see what we can do with it before interest wanes.

Hello. My name is Nathan. I'm 43 and 11/12 and I suffer from depression. That's probably about as certain as we can be for now, but stick with it and we'll see where we go from here.

I was born in 1973 and grew up in what many people would consider to be a regular household. There was me, my brother, my Mum and Dad. There's a lot more back story here but for now let's keep it simple. My parents were "older" in that Mum was 35 when I was born and Dad was 51. Four of us, three bed semi-detached, yadda yadda yadda.... all so far, so normal.

My mother and I have always had a difficult relationship (she's always been difficult and, by virtue of being my mother we had to have (up until recently) a relationship.) I can say with some degree of certainty and no degree of paranoia that she resented me being born. When my parents got married my Mum had always planned on having 2 children but miscarried her second, a girl. Had the girl been born Mum would have had the perfect family of 1 boy, 1 girl, no need for Nathan. For whatever reason that didn't happen and so I was the consolation prize, the black sheep, the child she didn't want to have. Talk about being hamstrung from the outset....

Up until the age of 14 childhood was generally okay. Dad was ace; he had a great sense of humour, a subversive streak (no, I don't know where I get it from either) and could generally turn his hand to anything. He'd served as a Royal Marine under Ian Fleming (creator of James Bond) and was disciplined, logical and practical. It should be noted that he wasn't a strict disciplinarian or that he whacked us to pieces, he didn't. He was always fair, knew right from wrong and knew that there was a proper way to do things. Older chronologically, maybe a a bit old-fashioned, but never old, never a fuddy duddy. He would always go into bat for us if we needed him. Yes, 23 years after his death I'm still a little bit in awe.

Mum was much more challenging. She was often sullen or moody and had a very quick temper. Growing up I remember hearing something that people either had a quick temper that dissipated easily or took a long time to explode but when they did it took them a while to come down. Being my mother she of course gave us the best of both worlds, a volcanic temper that boiled for ages, and that could bear a grudge for eternity.

There would be times when I'd fight with my brother (as kids do) and she would threaten to walk out if one of us didn't admit who started it. My brother could lie for England and so I would always take the rap because it was easier to get a bollocking off her than have to explain to Dad where Mum was. Mum did walk out on several occasions and always had to be tempted back with my false admissions of guilt (which of course meant she could punish me in some way - although like my Dad, she was never really a whacker). Back then it was assumed that any quirks or difficulties I displayed were things I'd inherited from her. Remember that in the 1970s and 80s mental health wasn't even an issue that you swept under the carpet.

Something happened when I was 8 or 9 and for reasons I'm still not sure I understand, my brother was sent away to school some 15 miles away from us. He stayed in a children's home and for 4 or 5 years he only really lived with us in the school holidays. He would come home every third weekend, we would take two buses to visit him every third weekend and the other weekend he had time to "mature" with the other children/residents/inmates. The consequence of this is that I was the only child in the house with a mother that didn't really want me. As you can imagine I spent a lot of time out playing with friends or holed up in my bedroom.

Normal household eh?

Now seems a good place to pause and reflect. I'll be back to continue those difficult teenage years another day.

Spong.