Man Talk- Navigating the School of Life

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Oh to have had 'Life Lessons' when I was at School. Instead of having to wait and learn from the school of life.

Man Talk — Navigating The School Of Life


I Had mixed emotions when I read recently that a school 'Down Sarf' has introduced 'Life Lessons' for its pupils. Part of me said a big hooray for them, and the other half had a little bit of self pity. A little voice in my head asked 'Where where the life lessons when I needed them'.

Reading on I discovered that amongst the secrets they'll be introduced too, will be how to shave, I assume that's for the boys And for the girls, life's great girlie mystery solved will be how to put on a bra. ( As an add on I'm sure most pubescent boys would like to be shown how to take a bra off, mind you I'm sure most girls would like a boy to be shown that as well)

You have to applaud these initiatives, I only wish that someone had given me a real world education when I was at school. As far as I can remember, the only life lessons I received was from the school of life. I, for all my sins and many mistakes, am self taught. In most things. I'm not saying this is a good thing or that I didn't need to be shown, but for the most part, like most kids of my generation that's just the way it was. I was never given the opportunity to be shown how to shave. I learned by sneaking into the bathroom locking the door and having a go.

Sex education was non-existent. The school of life and school yard banter was where I learned my theory.there were no demo's, you might say we got thrown in at the deep end. You fumbled your way through your first practical, until as they say you get there in the end.

When I think about it, preparing you
For life after secondary school, was the last thing on most of the teachers minds. In the days before Sat's and OFSTED. As far As I was aware,' caring and preparing ' wasn't part of the teaching job description.

I recently watched Ken Loach's classic 70's school days film 'Kes'. I was struck by a wave of school haze seeing so many similarities to my own experience (minus the Kestrel, although I did toy with the idea of keeping pigeons) I was An 'oldboy' or in
The posh schools they call them 'alumni' of a working class technical school Tochie Tech' which amalgamated with a local secondary school and became part of the Seventies schools revolution and became a 'Comprehensive.

Shorefields comprehensive was based on the Stalag 17 theory of education. Their would be no 'Great Escape' from this holding pen for Liverpool 8's finest. The mantra of the concrete comprehensive was obviously hacked from George Orwell's 'Animal Farm' and drilled into the animals/ pupils 'We are all equal'

Keeping to the prison camp vernacular ( why does it seem appropriate? ) my school years was at best a sentence, without remission. With added time for believing I had some potential for higher learning. This encouragement came from the one teacher ( There's one in every school) who seemed to care. Unfortunately, they where the one who got tagged as being a little bit strange, and when you mention to your parents that Mr so and so said he'd stay behind and help me. For the first time they took an interest in
My education. They told me to stay away from him, and they'd be going to see the head. Which like most irate parents they never did. Discussing the opportunity with my only source of impartial advice my school yard life mentors. I was quickly put right On the implications of accepting extra help, and taking their learned advice, continued to run with the pack toward desolation boulevard.

I can't say I was a fan of school but being a little bit ok at art, and secretly thinking I might like to go to art school.( Well it's not the kind of thing you told your mates who all had a fixation with cars and wanted to be apprentice mechanics) But the teacher was still encouraging me, (not that I could tell ma or pa,) The art teacher ( who I can now name and feel ashamed Mr Evans, thank you sir) arranged an interview for me at The Old Art school in Town. He suggested I took along a sample of my work to impress them. So feeling excited I cobbled together a few of my perceived masterpieces and turned up, hopes high.

The lecturer who grilled me pulled no punches . I felt like the X factor contestant who'd been egged on by his mates and was now getting a reality check from Simon Cowell. He didn't mince his words or bother with social niceties. I left the interview feeling like a fraud and longing for a Kestrel And the open fields of Yorkshire. Later I gained comfort from hearing someone say 'Art is so subjective'

As I was never going to see this demon again as I was to para phrase his words more or less a talentless time waster. Nobody needed to know so said nothing and blagged an excuse that I decided I didn't fancy it. Here was an example of my Seventies life lessons. Say nothing and get on with it.

Suffice to say the college life was not for me and after drifting through school I left with the required five O levels and two A levels. ( one in Art by the way!) My life was set fair for greatness I thought. How I got to where I am today is another story, (or maybe my next column?) But I often think what would life have been like if only I'd got myself that Kestrel.

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