Things I Learnt At School: Part One.

As exam time looms close once again for all year elevens – which I only know about because there’s constantly students bitching and moaning about it on the radio – it dawned on me: it’s been six years since I left school. That makes me feel old.

I hated school, because it was shit. But it taught me a lot. Not the lessons obvs, because I swear half my teachers were in some sort of probation programme. No, school taught me a lot about LIFE. It made me the woman I am today: neurotic and overly defensive. Here are some important things school taught me.

1. Pretty Much Everyone Hated Me

This is, of course, apart from a few people in my year who didn’t even know who I was. On my last day of school, all the leavers congregated in the assembly hall to scrawl noncommittal goodbyes and erect penises on each other’s school jumpers. I stood next to my friend as she got her t shirt signed by some guy in my year who didn’t know how to spell ‘good luck’. When he was done my friend said “Are you going to sign Pascale’s jumper?” and he was all like “Who?”

Who? WHO?! Oh, just the person who you’ve been throwing pencils at in maths for the past six years, you dickhole!

But apart from those guys, I was pretty hated. Not like pantomime villain hated, just a hate that comes from being wholly uncool – I could always sense everyone’s eye-rolls every time I spoke. It was my fault though. You see, instead of going outside and playing with my friends, I spent the majority of my childhood trying to eat copious amounts of Wotsits without my mum noticing whilst watching comedy shows that were way too grown up for me. The jokes I understood were few and far between, and I mostly just laughed if my dad did. I would then try and fit these jokes into conversations at school; consequently they made very little sense. As a result it made me quite unpopular. Did I stop? Fuck no! I carried on quoting The Man with Two Brains like there was no tomorrow! In later years I watched too much 3rd Rock from the Sun, and spent a lot of time trying to become Sally. Unfortunately this character only works in a fictional, comedic setting where there’s no risk of getting punched repeatedly in the boob in the woods behind your house and having Bubbaloo spat into your hair. Of course the whole being fat thing didn’t help either. Basically in terms of popularity, I was probably just above that girl who was rumoured to have shoved a carrot up her vagina (every school’s got one!).

2. Religious Education Teachers Make Their Living From VHS Players and Word Searches

No matter what anyone who works for Currys will tell you, VHS players will never be a dead technology whilst Religious Education teachers exist. R.E classes thrive solely on morally conscious tapes from the eighties and poorly constructed word puzzles. I must have seen If These Walls Could Talk at least ten times. (Hey, Demi Moore! You want me to take abortion seriously? Don’t cast Cher as a doctor, you fool!) And when they can’t seem to get the VHS player to work with the television – which is about 60% of the time – they switch to their only contingency plan: word searches.

Whoever thought it was a good idea to teach Religious Education at public schools did not think that one through. You are preaching entirely to the wrong choir. You think a classroom full of pierced bellybuttons and awkward boners want to complete an overtly religious word puzzle for the next hour? Do you think it’s going to teach them something? No! They will spend the first half hour trying desperately to find the word TITS, and the subsequent half hour shouting repeatedly that they’ve found TITS whilst bashing their heads against the table like the Neanderthals that they are. You know what, just go find the IT guy who knows how to work an ‘80s Sylvania and put A Distant Thunder on for the millionth time this year. Please.

3. Geeks Will Be Geeks

Geeks don’t change. Since the beginning of time there has been a set stereotype that always has and always will be conformed to, for some unknown reason. There are plenty of things that these geeks could do to help themselves, like:

  1. Carrying tissues, so that when they sneeze, all their snot goes there instead of the palm of their hand, the door handle and their pockets (in that order).
  2. Shave off that ridiculous whispy moustache – from a distance no one can tell whether it’s just a nose-shadow, or dirt.
  3. Buy trousers that don’t make you look like you’ve got a mum ass.
  4. Stop being a breeding ground for head lice.

You will usually find these people are now running the internet, in prison because of botched revenge plots or living life like Dustin Diamond.

4. Netball Is An Opportunity For Bitchez To Get SASSY

Netball is probably the only sport that girls don’t use their periods to get out of. If anything I swear netball teams sync up their periods for matches and use the sheer amount of oestrogen as a weapon. There’s something about netball that makes girls go fucking crazy. They take that shit so seriously!

Now, this is where I suspect a bit of my unpopularity came from. As with everything, netball has a distinct hierarchy: the best people were in the centre, and the further out you were, the worse you were at throwing, catching, shouting, and generally being a team player. For example, the two Centres would be poised on the circle centre court, ready to snatch that ball and looking into each other’s eyes the way Ernest Hemingway taught us to look at a charging rhino: WITH NO FEAR. Then a bit further out there would be Wing Attack, who would chat happily with Wing Defence until shit got real – then they had no qualms in using their arses as battering rams to push each other out of court and would lean so far forward over the goal circle that they looked like human right angles.

Then there was me: Goal Defence. Just happy that I wasn’t Goal Keeper (who had usually fucked off mid-match to have a spliff). I was always put in goal defence because I was tall, but that was about the only thing working in my favour. I had the reflexes of a sloth and as about as much dexterity as a newborn baby. And I fucking HATE things flying at my face. So I’d be messing around with my GD bib, turning it into a boob tube, eating skittles, adjusting my thermal vest, and before I knew it there would be a ball heading straight towards my noggin. I would mostly just smack it away with the palm of my hand out of shock, which – especially in winter – really fucking hurt. Sometimes I would catch it, which would be followed by simultaneous squawks of “PASCALE!”, “HERE IF YOU NEED!” and “BEHIND!” It’s amazing how impatient people can get in those three seconds you’re allowed to hold that ball. I would get so confused and nervous that I would pass the ball to someone on the opposite team just to get rid of it. And I didn’t care, because I couldn’t give two shits about netball. But my GOD, did I piss some people off! And in that sense, I can see why people didn’t like me. The only thing I ever put any effort into during P.E was getting changed quickly enough so that the lesbian gym teacher (a staple of every school) didn’t burst in when I was wearing nothing but my thermals.