It was kind of weird that I wasn’t going to see some of my friends again. From my junior school, people went off to three different high schools. I went to Woodkirk High School, which only took six of my schoolmates that year. It was like moving to a different town.
I had a great time in the summer holidays before I started high school, but when it got down to a couple of weeks before I started at Woodkirk I got anxious. Woodkirk High School was just up the road from my house with the top of my street backing on to the end of the school’s playing fields, so I was quite aware of where it was and what it looked like. I could kick a ball into the school field from my garden, but to get to the main gates was a good 15-minute walk, which I came to hate.
On my first day at Woodkirk, I walked to school with a friend named Peter, who already had an older brother going there. All of the new first years were ushered into the main hall to wait for their names to be called out and then we were led off to our respective classrooms. I was devastated to eventually find out I was in a class with no one else I knew. A couple of years later, I found out that this had been done deliberately to try and settle me down a bit. When I was around people I knew, I tended to act up quite a lot. My new high school had done their homework and had done what they could to control me.
I spent that first period at Woodkirk trying to settle in and get a sense of belonging amongst complete strangers, which was quite tough for me. To begin with, I sat at a table by myself, as everyone else in that classroom knew at least one person, either from where they lived or the school they had been to before. It didn’t take me long to become part of the group. Naturally, for me, the way I went about doing this was by clowning around and making people laugh. The school’s plans to keep me quiet had in reality given me more cause to be loud.