Friday, 19 February 2010

The Sunday Club

Reading about John Holt's observations on the school system has reminded me of my own schooldays.

I had the opposite view of school to everyone I knew. I loved the lessons but disliked the playtimes (recess). I enjoyed learning and found many of the lessons interesting, except when I had to hear a child, who was a slow reader, read. I was chosen for this task because I was a fluent reader, but I found listening to children struggling to read boring a tedious. Funny that I then went on to become a teacher (I didn't have the same view of hearing readers later in life fortunately.) I also remember feeling sorry for the teacher when I was 11 years old who had to hear the struggling readers every day, because these were the smelly kids and the teacher had to spend time being in close proximity to them.

I didn't like the playtimes because I didn't fit in with any popular group and didn't want to be with the other misfits. However, when I was a teenager at the girls school I attended, I decided that being with the misfit group was better than being on my own. It was very painful at lunchtimes because I felt the need to be sitting next to others so I wouldn't stand out as being on my own, so I found a group of girls whose parents were in the RAF and so lived on the nearby RAF station. They of course didn't fit in with any of the other girls because they moved schools so often, and had different life experiences.

I was 14 and they talked about the Sunday afternoon club they all went to on the station. I lived one and a half miles from it, a long walk with no public transport along the route. They invited me to go and so my dad took me in the car and I would call him when I wanted picking up 'cos the group would be going to see a film on the site after the club.

This was the first time I was exposed to so many males, although there weren't more than 15 or so, and there were about 10 girls. We drank coke and played records and some played pool and one guy kissed me. I didn't think much of it (and neither did he I learned later, giving me a bad report, to which my boyfriend Davey told me he refuted).

Davey was 18 like all the other lads and I was very impressed. He was from Scotland and we paired up and when we kissed it didn't come as such a surprise and I'm a quick learner so it was very satisfactory for both of us.

We all went to the pub after the club. I'd never been in a pub before, and didn't know what drink to order, but I remember my mother drinking a larger and lime when we went on holiday and stopped at a pub at lunchtime occasionally. Children were not allowed inside so we sat in the gardens. So I ordered a larger and lime. It's a good job Davey asked me what I wanted because I don't think I had any money. Ladies drank this drink in a half pint glass. I like the taste fortunately.

Outside, though, I didn't like the effect. I felt suddenly dizzy and off balance, but of course I didn't want anyone to know I'd just had my first alcoholic drink. I think I might have been within the law for being inside the pub at that age but no-one was allowed to drink alcohol until the age of 18. However the law didn't signify for young people then, and it's the same today.

We went to the place that was showing the film and, as we queued up I told Davey that he only needed to pay half price for me as I was under 16 but he quickly shushed me because the film was Dracular, and X rated, meaning only those over 18 could watch it.

This was another first (and last) for me. I didn't enjoy this horror film but everyone else thought it was hilarious. I've never seen another horror film. I don't see the point. - Oh, I think that's selective memory, because I'm sure I continued to see the Sunday films as long as I went to the club, and there would likely be more horror films shown.

So my dad came to pick me up and when I got home I told my parents what had happened (apart from the kissing bit). My mum, the spokesperson, said "We'd rather you stayed with a group than paired off with one boy and if the group is going into a pub, we aren't going to ban you from going. However, we'd rather you don't drink alcohol."
I said "Oh it didn't occur to me that I could have a non-alcoholic drink! What drinks are there then?" They gave me a list, and I was relieved because I didn't like the sensation the alcohol induced. (Unfortunately this reticence to drink alcohol only lasted about a year or so.)

The girls at school were astounded that I told my parents about the pub. It didn't occur to me to not tell them. I didn't have a perfect relationship with my parents, but it was obviously better than the relationship many adolescents have.