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school memories

pulling on winter tights. uniform a little too large, room to grow.

new stationary. the idea of choosing a 'cool' pencil case. friendships formed on silly jokes and an unspoken solidarity. trying not to be embarrassing. bunsen burners and lab coats, and a smell of a substance I hadn't bothered to learn the name of. sandwiches not eaten. a packet of crisps and a penguin. well-intentioned assemblies with meanings I was too bored to grasp. playing sports, unwillingly, out in the cold. the smell of the changing rooms. coach trips. having so much to take in and it being completely normal, all we've ever known. teachers that felt unknowable - and not caring, and teachers that felt nearly knowable, and all kinds of wonderful. parents' evenings, presuming the worst.

gathered together to receive news of events we were too young to understand.

safety in stories, in english class, in putting your hand up because you knew or wanted to know, all about it. the click of a cartridge into a new fountain pen. the thrill of a vending machine. gel pens and tippex. "careers advice". group school photos, laughing on unstable structures, a sense of mischief. solo school photos, feeling awkward. getting in trouble for something that everyone thought was funny, so not minding. the nurse's room, a plaster put on. friendships fall outs. new friendships formed. the awkward inbetween.

The wounds we covered up, the putting on of make up, eye liner not quite right, the smell of impulse spray. The sound of sanitary towels surreptitiously opened. Or, the silent as possible stuffing of tissue in a moment of surprise, and the absence of something better.

chunky clarkes shoes. pe kit inspections. yamaha keyboards. the soft sweep of pencil on paper, following the curve of the compass. the excitement and anxiety of a non-uniform day. trying to recover from cruel comments, carelessly thrown.

not remembering to do homework. not remembering to go un-noticed. not caring to be on time. not caring to care. letters sent home. the pressure to pass. the pressure to succeed. finding your space in a sports hall turned exam room. waiting to start. waiting to leave.

the end of day bell. the end of term goodbyes. the - what did you do over the summer holidays? the end of school shirt-signings.

the start of something new.

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