I grew up in Mitcham, in the London Borough of Merton. My mother was Irish, Roman Catholic, my Dad was a London boy and slightly Church of England, which meant, of course, my younger brother and I were going to be raised as good Roman Catholic boys. Our first school was called St Peter & St Pauls Roman Catholic, Primary School. I would say it was your typical RC London school, too much religion for my liking, but hey it was what it was.
As I said it was your typical school. We had the guy who would eat a worm or a spider for a dare, there was the girl who would always do handstands and show you her knickers for the price of a sweet, and the kid who would always pee himself in the classroom because he was too scared of the teacher to put his hand up to go to the toilet because he was embarrassed about asking in front of others9that must have been tough). We even had a few of the 7/8 yr old kids who used to smoke behind the bike shed(this was the late 60s early 70s after all).
I was one of the quiet, awkward kids, who didn’t seem to quite fit in, I didn’t want to be noticed, hated being the center of attention, crap at sport, always one of the last to be picked for the football or rounders team, unlike my brother who was an excellent footballer and always one of the first to be picked for any team.
As a result of my awkwardness, quietness and constantly being off school sick I had a definite lack of confidence, friends, and my social skills were rubbish, it was also a time for me that would have a big impact on my relationship with the Catholic Church and it was called first Holy Communion, I hated studying for it, I didn’t want to do it and it turned out to be my first step in moving over to the dark side of moving over to atheism, for me the big battle would come when I reached 12 yrs old, the church and I were never going to be friends and 50 years later it’s still not for me, my Mum was never happy about my lack of love with religion but she eventually came to accept it.
When I was 8 my parents divorced, this was a traumatic time for me, I didn’t understand what was going on, I never asked my brother how he felt about it, and I even started thinking it was my fault. Then our dad moved out and I turned into the antichrist, my brother and my mum became the focus of that anger.
By the time I’d started St Thomas of Canterbury, middle school, religion and me were on very thin ice. One of my teachers was a nun. If have you ever seen the nun in the film the Blues Brothers, she used the same punishment a rap across the knuckles with a wooden ruler which bloody hurt, her Maths lesson was always intertwined with religious stories which meant I would just switch off. I guess this was my first real experience of bullying, the next was the PE teacher who was a really nasty piece of work.
Now I know I keep referring to my poor health and at this time of my life, my egg allergy caused fairly regular visits to St Georges Hospital, my chronic Asthma which would cause several bouts of Bronchitis a year and would put me in St Hiliers Hospital at least once a year, usually during the winter, cold air and London smog do not mix well.
Anyway back to the PE teacher, it was a really cold day, and very smoggy , My asthma was playing up, so I had brought a letter into school from my mum, to excuse me from cross country running, which was held on Mitcham Common, what this man did to me scarred me for the rest of my school days especially when it meant doing sport. After the teacher had read my mum’s note, he threw it in the bin then marched me into the gym in front of the class, he sat down put me across his knee pulled down my school shorts and slippered me with my own plimsole, whilst telling them I was a poof and a weakling for letting my asthma stop me from running which actually helps asthmatics, this was a mixed school so what he did was beyond embarrassing.
It was my final year at St Thomas’s, I was 12 yrs old and I had to do my confirmation after much arguing and fighting with my mother I went through with it, I had to or I wouldn’t get my new Blazer. I hated doing it, then the next day everything went bang, I was dragged in front of the Headmaster for laughing in assembly during the Lord’s prayer, I don’t know what started off my fit of giggles, but I just couldn’t stop. I was called into the headmaster’s office who was standing there with his cane in his hands, then I blurted out I hate God and I hate religion and I hate this bloody school. That was the last RC school I ever went to thankfully.
For my Last year living in London, I got to go to a school of my choice, Eastfields High School, a dream come true, Instead it turned into a nightmare, I ended up in the hospital and at home for 3 months because of my asthma. At 13 I moved with my family to West Sussex, for my sins, I had to go to Forest Boys Comprehensive school, I was told I wasn’t allowed to carry on with the subjects I had chosen the year before German, Art and general Science, instead, I was put into Drama, Geology and Social Economics.
As it turned out, these subjects were undersubscribed and there were no sets, I liked the teachers, funnily enough, I did well in these classes and got two of my highest grades. As for my main subjects, my grades weren’t as good as they should have been, though that was partly down to the teachers who weren’t really interested in those students who weren’t in sets 1 or 2 in Maths and English, and partly down to me having finally given up on a school system that had given up on me.
But it didn’t stop me going to college, It didn’t stop me from traveling the world for 15 years in an amazing job, going to fantastic places, seeing some awesome sights and meeting some truly wonderful people. I have also finished my working career as I will soon be released on medical grounds from a totally amazing job within the NHS.
Everything has worked ok in the end, no grudges, no regrets.
I just want to be clear I don’t hate any religion, personally, I don’t think that religion would make me any better as a person, but if it helps you if it’s your thing That’s good.
Party on dude,