I hated highschool. Mine was a place of aggression, violence, bullying and assualt. It wasn’t a safe place, though few would admit it at the time. I guess what’s normal for you is the norm. Truth is though, I was bored witless. I loved learning but I didn’t like the way we did it. Additionally we had 1,400 kids crammed into a school built for 900. I’d drift off for most lessons, only to be rattled awake by a yell to pay attention. My report cards were replete with comments “Paul would do better if he focussed, if he paid attention, if he didn’t stare out the window so much. I still find conferences and events like that from time to time. I remember several of us getting into trouble, putting rats on the benches in science, setting the gas port alight as a flame thrower, water fights in the quad, shorting the electrical system, altering clocks it was such fun.
I needed a way out, I faked my mother’s signature a few times to write myself an “excused from school” note, but I knew that I could only do that now and again or risk falling under suspicion. But I don’t know why I worried so much, because one day in year 10, I decided to wander down town. I worked out that roll call was fisrt period in the morning and first period after lunch, and many teachers were slack in the afternoon – or were glad not to mark as absent the troublesome ones 😀 so it was possible to turn up for roll call and then disappear. That first time I wasn’t missed, so I did it again, and then I kept doing it, it helped me survive the institution of school, and yet I learned a lot about people and life and places. I went with a mate to his parent’s record bar (remember those?) and listen to the Top 40 free, we’d go to the shops, have a pint at one of the pubs and even take in a floor show (another loophole was that they rarely challenged your age back then). I was an absolute wizzard at pool and snooker, I could have passed a final exam with distinction had it involved potting balls. There was a fabulous bookshop (before the advent of franchises) where I got lost down the aisles reading. Chatting up the girls from the local TAFE and being chased out of the Newsagent for fear that I was nicking comics, (well … ahem …). I wouldn’t advocate it, I’m not denying it either, but nor am I ashamed of it, it is what it is, and somehow, in a counter-cultural way, it helped me. I’m thankful for the loopholes in my life, they helped to form me and I’m happy about that.