Saturday, November 13, 2010

It Got Better and Continues To.

Bullying robs our children of their self confidence and hinders their discovery of their talents.

I'm going to confess.  I was a bully at school.  It was over 20 years ago and I bullied one school mate, Steuart Harrison.  I was bullied myself by many boys and didn't exactly have it easy, but that's no excuse.

Our High School was, I'm told, the first school in the UK to get CCTV cameras installed in the playground.  At the time I was there, the local area had the highest unemployment rate in the UK.  It was not pretty, and for some, it all felt hopeless.  I had two fist fights in my first two weeks; nothing I instigated and these were the first full-on fights I'd ever experienced.  My village primary school (equivalent to elementary and middle school) had less than 100 pupils and was a much more nurturing and fun place to be, so High School was a severe shock to us all. 

Steuart was odd as a child.  Actually he still is quite odd.  He was born in Papua New Guinea and arrived in Scotland aged 10, with an distinctly Australian accent and an amazing ability to mimic monkeys.  Difference amongst my friends wasn't something that was to be tolerated.  Steuart says I gave him his nickname 'Hinge Hand' - he was considered effeminate or limp wristed.  He isn't / wasn't gay, but that didn't seem to matter much then and it certainly doesn't matter now.

I think it was Steuart who gave me my nickname, 'Pizza-Face' as a means to 'help' me with my struggle with acne.  We definitely didn't get along and I was definitely mean to him.  And I did hit him too.  I even remember walking over to him and punching him in the face, just to show off to my idiotic friends.  

I do not know a single one of those idiotic friends anymore and I can't even remember their names, except for the most evil one - I heard that he became a bit of a drug dealer and then eventually moved to Thailand to sell brides.  I bet he's quite the charmer now.

I do still know Steuart though.  I love him like a brother.  A teacher helped turn us around from being enemies.  I can't say the teacher was particularly fantastic.  In fact, the one thing that started Steuart and I seeing eye to eye, was that we both agreed that the teacher was a complete imbecile.  We became the very best of friends, we both went to University in Glasgow and, along with others, tried to systematically drink the town dry.  He studied Architecture at the school of Art and I kept visiting him - there were only 2 girls in my class of 120 electrical engineers.... 

He lives in Vienna now and lectures in Architecture.  We're still in touch and still amused at how things turned out.  That was a difficult and nasty 4 or so years, prior to our almost 30 years of friendship.  

It could only get better if he moved closer to LA.