I was brought up in mid-suburbia, come from a working class family. My father was a catering entrepreneur who spent most of his time making sure his small businesses chain, ran smoothly. He pretty much managed them single handedly. Meanwhile my Mom helped him in tow, working the kitchen, making sure everything else ran smoothly. I lived right above their first store; the locals called it “the chinky” — The term always amuses me. lol
As far as I remember, didn’t get much attention from my parents, they were constantly busy with their business to give any of us any affection. For them, the family business came first and family a near second but that was fine! I got my sister, she pretty much brought me up. This bonding pretty much made us inseparable. Eventually she met a guy and got married. And that was the first time I truly learnt the emotions of being alone. I remember being empty, sad and emotional; my parents didn’t really come to my aid. Instead I struggled for a while not sure how I should respond
I later learnt to enjoyed my loneliness. I started realizing I could do pretty much anything and probably get away with it. Besides, I had all the neighborhood kids by my side, even though whom I got to know pretty damn well! We all had BMX’s, we rode around the neighborhood exploring, occasionally getting into all sorts of mischief. Often returning super late. This went on pretty much everyday till I entered high school. Then one day everything changed!! — That’s pretty much all I remember.
Now, I believe my folks tried their best to bring up their two siblings. I’m the youngest… Apparently I was given the best-est opportunities. I spent the first five years in local state schools. Had plenty of friends to kill time with, getting up to no-good like kids do, but hell it was all fun and laughter!! — I had a couple of best buddies who’d I’d chill with constantly. We might as well be brothers & sisters!!
Eventually I was given a choice of high schools to attend. I made a choice to attend Endon High instead of Excel Academy (formerly Holden Lane High School). Before I had time to settle in, my parents uprooted me, out of state funded high school, where most of my friends were and sent me away to attend one of the many Woodard schools dotted around the country. All because my parents was influenced by someone in Hong Kong who happen to send their child to the UK for schooling… 🙄
Denstone College (a Woodard school)
Initially, I was genuinely excited. I was about to do something most families could only dream off! I remember being told all the pros this school had to offer but no-one told me about the cons. Eventually I was made to sit some sort of entrance examination before being allowed to attend. Though school wasn’t to start for another six months.
But that excitement soon turn to sadness.. This opportunity was meant to give me a better quality of education than the state schools could ever offer but I hated it! To me, it was nothing more than a prison for kids; who’s parents didn’t have time to give us affection or didn’t know how or what to do with us … or so I felt. Something in my first year I decided to converted from Buddhism to being a catholic and started practicing Catholicism… It was fresh, I wanted to explore my new belief.
Over the course of the four years I was there, I became increasingly withdrawn. I eventually started skipping classes I had no interests in, avoid activities, wonder off school grounds and disappear for hours. Instead of someone asking me “Why you doing this?” I was punished for not attending class and not taking part in social activities. I learnt complaining to the Masters was completely futile, since they were the ones imposing my punishment. With every month I become increasingly depressed and I felt extremely lonely and no-one to turn to for help or advice. There was no councilors at this school. Increasingly I spent more and more time in the chapel. I learnt to confine in God even though I felt religion was a complete waste of time. I wanted warmth and someone to like me. Instead, I’m pushed away! Eventually I lost faith.
Some of the elder kids would bully me, make to do stuff against my will. Steal food from the canteen, go buy hundreds of cigarettes with fake ID’s. Nearly everyday there would be some racist remark from some of the other kids, mostly because I’m Chinese. Worst, when reported, the school masters did nothing to combat those attacks. For the years that followed, my high school life became a complete nightmare! I was “debagged” several times. Usually by the other boys in our dorms. On one occasion, someone took an Polaroid photo of my genitalia and posted it on the 24 hour noticed board for the whole school to see. It was humiliating. Again the masters did nothing!!
I learnt that I didn’t fit in with everyone else and I wanted out! Worst, no-one noticed and nobody cared. Everyone was too involved with snobbery to ask anyone “What’s wrong?” Affection from those masters never came, nor was there any care. I felt increasingly neglected. However, if your lucky and you did well, someone would eventually pat you on the back, for a job well-done then award you a book token to visit Heffers (now Blackwell’s) in Cambridge — Yea, I fuckin’ won an art prize! WOW!!
Those masters my parents paid to take care of me, would force me into doing all the things I detests, I felt enslaved into doing something for someone else’s gain.. I following their schedules. I tried to fit in but the more I tried, the more I felt like an odd ball. The bullying commenced and the Masters pretty much turned a blind eye.
Making friends here was difficult, I constantly felt like an outcast. No one wanted to know me, those that did wanted something in exchange. I felt used. And to make matters worst. I was often bullied by the seniors and my peers for being different, I was one of two or three Chinese kids in the entire school that’s predominately Caucasian. I went to my parents for help but they weren’t sympathetic; my parents didn’t care. They wanted me to get the best possible education money could buy… and I resented them for that!!
Every week, I began missing home more and more! If we’re well behaved, they’d give us the privileges to make calls home, even then they weren’t free! Phone calls came out of our own pocket money and my parents were scruggs, every semester I got less and less. So I called less. Eventually I stopped calling altogether. My so-called loving parents had dropped me into a whirlpool of strange surroundings with people I don’t get along, let alone see eye to eye. They didn’t care that I was bulled, they didn’t care about my mental health either!
Every few weeks, someone would try to run away but any attempts was completely futile. Those whom tried, were only to be captured and brought back into the dorms. Yea, it was a public school with dumb uniforms, dumb rules and shit. Me, I never bother running away. Home for me was over sixty miles away and I wasn’t street wise then. Eventually I just gave in and started doing all the shit I’m not meant to do.
During social activities I chose cross-country running over cricket, athletics etc. Not that I was any good at running but it allowed me to wonder away from the school. There I learnt to masturbate. Learnt to explore my sexual side, literally get to know the earth better!! I found fondness of playing in the dirt, usually in some farm yard.
By the third year my mental health had diminished somewhat and I had zero interests for classes. I ended up cutting Ecomonics, French, Physics and Religious studies, and most of the social activities they had on offer. I started missing morning service. Instead I’ll go according to my mood and my desire to seek forgiveness. Other times I turned to hiding in the art block, experimenting with paint, print, learning to use the air brush all whilst listening to the radio. I started to do something creative instead of actually studying… Eventually my masters caught me and banned me from the art blocks. My exception was the two hours on the time-table. So I turned to the computer rooms. Where I made more friends and I learnt how to zap their network using the Basic Language. Zapping computers during class was fun! Everyone lost their work! :mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen: Eventually I got bored of computers and stopped attending Computer Studies too. Resorting to disappear off campus completely. I started experimenting with tobacco and reading fantasy novels up ‘tucker’s path’. Occasionally disappearing off campus to the nearby resort, Alton Towers. Back then Denstone didn’t have free season passes for the resort, instead we used to sneak in through the back via the Denstone and Alton trackbed. As we’re entering the resort under their noses, it’s difficult to track us.
By the fourth year, I was desperate. I had no-one to turn to and no response from my beliefs. So I started smoking and running away from the Masters whenever they tried to hunt us down. Prep schools had their own ways of dealing with people who broke the law.. Back then fines for being caught smoking on campus was £10/$15. For those of us with no money, an alternative punishment was given.. Usually we’re to do litter picking during our spare-times. But in reality this soon become another excuse to go smoking. Bumming smokes from the seniors in exchange for favors. Stealing bread, butter, jam and food outta the dinning halls become a norm. For what friends I did eventually make, they became my drinking buddies. We all saved our pocket money just so we could pool our saving for booze, on the weekend. Everyone chipped in and when we’re short, we borrowed from our friends. So someone looking old enough, could go down to the off license to buy booze… I was 14, going on 15 then, I started drinking heavily, enough to past out! And often I did.
Eventually further reports were sent home covering my non-compliance. Whenever the holidays came I started fearing returning home. Whatever I achieved in school was never good enough for my folks. They just wanted me to attend school to learn. And for every rule I broke in school, I was beaten — I later learnt my parents care little about my mental health, all they wanted was results. Results they weren’t about to get as I had lost interests in studying altogether.
Once all the punishment was over and I’m no longer grounded. I was given the opportunity to go out find my mates. It’s there I learnt I somehow lost touch with all my buddies. They somehow outed me. No longer in a their social class and therefore wouldn’t chill with me. The time I spent home become pretty dismal. This would repeat year on year. The two buddies I once had, become one… But our interests were very different and we drifted apart.
I eventually completed my high school, left school with nine GCSE’s, three of them were CSE equivalents. My parents begged me to return to the school to re-sit the final year and then continue to sixth form… as many of the students there continues into prestigious universities. But I had enough. I’ve been given a choice and I decided to leave the Woodward School… I didn’t even say good by to anyone. I just vanished the same way I came.
Sure, three CSE’s equivalents isn’t enough to get me into college to study anything academic but it’s enough to get me into Art School cause I aced my Art and Craft Design Technology classes with flying colors.
Today, I’m what they call an “Old Denstonians“ (aka ODs).
Since leave high school I have deliberately ignored all the OD invitations. I understand they occasionally have seasonal dinners, inviting all the OD’s back for a reunion; it’s never free. More importantly why should I give face to the people who made my childhood hell and I detest? As far as I’m concerned. I just wanted to bury the whole experience in a box. Forget about it but then, you wouldn’t know anything about me… So far, I have only returned once. And then it’s just to look around. I doubt any of the current masters know me, if they did, they probably don’t remember as I was still a boy back then.
I don’t really miss the place as much as I initially thought. Despite wasting a chunk of my life there, for the most, I might as well spent it in prison.
Wondering through the school grounds still gives me the chills, unexpectedly recalling all the doom and gloomy I was going through. Flashbacks of high-school traumas I’d sooner forget. I for one definitely don’t miss the people I schooled with; though there was a few cool gothic kids, unfortunately I don’t remember their names, only their faces and they were a few years older than me… I don’t even pay attention to where they are now. The annual OD reports are collected in a dusty pile, left unopened and unloved — Awaiting incineration.
If anything, I’m glad to see the back of the place. I did however speak with some of the old masters that I knew but I never revealed who I was; I’m a different person now. The only place I spent any length of time was in the chapel with the chaplain. I simply wonder up to the alter and said a pray then left.
Occasionally I’d wonder where I’d be now, if my parents didn’t force me to attend their idiotic school?? Guess I’ll never know…