About a year ago when I did my last travelling trip I made a promise to one of my teachers that I would visit my old school one day and drop off a load of my books to the people that educated me, because to be fair if they didn’t do such a good job none of my books would exist anyway, or they would but they’d be absolutely terrible…
Now it was time for me to make good on my promise. Before I left Suffolk I brought my final ten copies of my first book with me. I let my music teacher know that I was on the way and she booked an appointment for me.
I walked through a rainstorm, but I finally made my way up the hill towards the school. I must admit a lot of memories I had as a fifteen year old came flooding back. I went in and was immediately aware that I wasn’t in fact a student anymore, and felt very uncomfortable walking around the premises.
The whole place was strangely cordoned off. I asked around how to get to reception (which is right at the front of the school, but you couldn’t get to it) and eventually made my way around the old music block and gym changing rooms to walk towards the three storey block. I was stopped by a man in a high-visibility jacket and I asked him if I could get to reception through there.
“Not through there mate, this is a demolition zone…” He replied firmly. Then he pointed towards the tennis courts and said I needed to walk that way. Only that the tennis courts didn’t exist anymore, instead there was a huge overwhelming building in its place, which I soon found out fit the whole school in the one building…
I nervously walked into reception and tried to point out that I wasn’t a weird bloke offering teenagers a bag of sweets and that I had a genuine reason for being there, I was then led to the music block by a sudent who seemed disinterested in everything. To be fair he was a teenager and I hated everything when I was that age.
I said hello to Mrs Mendelsohn and waited 15 minutes for her class to finish. While I waited I chatted to the other music teacher who talked proudly about her little girl. Once the class was over Mrs Mendelsohn said she was surprised to see me and thought I was coming after school, so long story short I had to go grab some lunch and come back after lunch was over.
Take two: I grabbed my bag of books and started handing them out to teachers. I gave one to Mrs Arnold and smiled as she said she recognized me (I reckon she was being polite…) and one to the library. I apologized and whispered that there were swear words in the book. the librarian laughed and said that it won’t be a problem.
We went on a tour around the whole school, which to be fair looked like a Scooby Doo cartoon because it all looked the same. At first I thought the music department was really good even though it wasn’t as good as the last music department (To be fair everything in that department was top of the range with loads of room), but when I saw how big some of the rooms were for technology for example, I felt bad for the music department because the classes were big, but not as big as they were in the old department. Plus there were only five music practice rooms when there used to be six.
Towards the end of the ‘tour’ we saw two kids who were about fourteen sitting outside the headmaster’s office. They were saying that they were about to be excluded from school for separate various reasons. When we left and went to the hall Mrs Mendelsohn started passionately praising the girl (whose name escapes me…) saying she loved music and was a great singer, but had very little interest in school.
This really resonated with me; I had issues at school that I don’t want to go into, but ultimately I had no interest in school and it showed. So as we went to reception to sign out I asked if I could give one of my books to the young girl. Mrs Mendelsohn said it was a good idea and I went to see the girl.
She’d gone somewhere, but the boy was still there. So I gave the boy the book and asked him to give the girl the book when she came back. I then gave a passionate speech saying that I hated school when I was younger and failed all my exams, but eventually I followed my passion, believed in myself and got to the position I am in today through hard work and belief. I don’t know if she got the book in the end or even had any interest in reading the book, but I would like to think a nice gesture like that would inspire her. In a world where there is so much negativity and you hear the word ‘should’ on a daily basis, for her to see someone who went to the same school as her, grew up in the same area as her and had the same issues in school as her not only do something with their life but genuinely believe in her could be the boost she needs. You never know what people’s home lives are like and some people don’t ever get that encouragement to keep pushing. Even if the gesture made her smile then I’ll be happy…
And just like that my visit was over. It wasn’t the school I recognized but I felt incredibly fortunate that the old school was still there and I could see it before they knocked it down. Really annoyingly I forgot to take a photo with Mrs Mendelsohn, but I’m pleased to report that she is happy and looking well. I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to Mrs Mendelsohn for taking the time out of her busy schedule to show me around the school and for being so accommodating. I wish you all the best in life and I hope we can keep in touch. All the best!
Oh, and enjoy your signed copy of the book, I hope you are not offended by it 😛