The transition to high school was difficult! I now had to do much more studying and write long answers, when I preferred to study my own stuff in my own time and at my own pace, things such as Look and Learn or articles about geography or astronomy in my Young People’s Science Encyclopedia. I loved drawing maps and graphs, as by now I had a fully developed country of my own with all its place names and characters. They had to be perfectly drawn and in the proper colours – blue for rivers and the coastline, red for roads, black for railways and place names, green for nature reserves and borders, and brown for mountains.
My favourite subjects were Geography and English, but especially Geography. History was also quite interesting to me. I dreaded PT as I was skinny and had no muscle to speak of. My physique resembled that of a rather anorexic pigeon.
Science and biology were not too bad but I dreaded Accountancy because the teacher seemed to go out of his way to confuse me and get my Debit and Credit columns mixed up. I later dropped Accountancy and even Maths. Maths requires a very special type of teaching skill with the ability to make the formulas understandable and enjoyable. I liked statistics of various types, but felt lost with geometry and expecially algebra. I dropped Science later as well, but looking back, I think the teachers had a lot to do with my liking of a subject or not. I think the right teacher can initiate a dormant interest in almost anything.
I found it impossible to fit into any particular group in high school. One of the few friendships I had was with the only guy in the whole school who did marathon running. He took part in an ultra marathon at age 16, and was one of the “rough” crew. I often used to visit him at home in the afternoons. I wasn’t interested in running at this stage of my life, but enjoyed his company as he was laid back and easy to talk to. One or two other boys at the school were friendly with me but for the most part I felt like a real outcast and was bullied, although far more mentally and verbally than physically.
My own attitude did little at this stage to improve the situation. I could also be a real jerk at times. Maybe today I would openly laugh if I had to meet my 15 year old alter ego through the looking glass!
My upbringing made it difficult to get a grasp of things. There was no Internet or any other way of gaining knowledge about anything, so if the subject was hard to find data on, then classical ignorance would have to do, with its attendant bliss or otherwise – or trial and error. What I knew apart from what we learned in school, was from my own books at home, from the local library, or from watching the occasional movie. Television was only introduced to the country when I was 12, and worlds apart from what it is today.
The girls my age at church considered me childish and said as much. I was very much a loner and took part in no sport, although I briefly trained with the lowest ranked rugby team. We mostly used to run up and down the steepest street in town, like the Duke of York’s men. My only extra-mural activities were piano lessons and chess club – typical nerd stuff!
Another boy who had made my life rather a misery made friends with me at this stage, although it was soon clear that it was all an act for his own entertainment and satisfy his own ego.
Strangely enough, I cried on my last official day of school, just as I had on my very first day of school. This time, it was fear of the unknown world I’d soon be entering after graduating, as school at least offered an environment with which I was famililar.
Little did I know that a mere six months or so after leaving school, that I would be moving with my mother, stepfather and new baby half-sister to a city a thousand kilometres away to begin a new life there, and would only return to our small home town to see my grandma from time to time.