Arbury Road in the 1980s.Badger's memories of life as a gay Chesterton and Manor School pupil and South Arbury teenager in the 1980s continue...
You know how 'straight' kids get crushes and puppy love? It was the same with me. There had been 1 boy who was quite what I called 'macho', but with beautiful, sensitive eyes, I really, really liked him while I was at Manor. I saw him once walking his family's dog on Arbury Town Park on a non-school day, and that was it, I was always hanging about there then. Usually, he was nowhere to be seen, but sometimes he showed up with the dog and we used to have a chat. He was a year below me at school, so I didn't see much of him there.
I had all the puppy love symptoms, I couldn't stop thinking about him, yet when he came in sight I had to control all that and say, ''Wotcha, mate, alright?' and keep my voice as deep and even as possible. All that was worth it just to see him.
In retrospect, nothing he said was of the remotest interest to me, it was a very football orientated thing and football is like watching paint dry to me, but I lapped up every word at the time because of the 'magic' of being near him.
It seemed magical to look up at the stars from my bedroom window in the early hours, and imagine my idol sleeping somewhere just beyond the other side of Arbury Road. I had it bad!
Somehow I contained things and didn't let it set me off kilter. My objective side was telling me, 'He isn't interested in you in any way other than straight,' and my unobjective side was saying, 'So, what! You never know and I just want to see him anyway and I will keep on seeing him!' The two somehow balanced each other and although I had a strong need to tell him I really, really liked him, I never did. It passed, slowly, but it passed.
A year or so after I left school, I passed someone in Brimley Road who said hello. It took me a moment to place him, but it was my 'first love' from school. The 'magic' had completely gone and although we had a chat I parted company from him without even a pang.
Backing up a bit in time again, I was surprised after the mock exams at Manor to find I was being entered for 4 O'Levels. These were GCE's, General Certificate of Education, Ordinary Level. There were 2 grades of exams, with CSE's, Certificate in Secondary Education, being the other. GCE's were the 'higher' attainment and both would be abolished in a couple of years for GCSE's.
I only really liked English and history and was astounded to find I'd been entered for maths, which I hated. The others were English Language, English Literature and history.
I passed, three B's and a C (maths), and it was time to leave school. My parents didn't suggest I went on to Sixth Form College and I didn't want to anyway. A lot fewer kids stayed on then.
By this time questions about girlfriends were rampant from the older generation, my parents, and when we visited family up North. I landed a job at a shop on Mill Road, and decided the time was right to tell my parents there would be no girlfriends.
I didn't plan it. One night, when we were watching TV, I just leapt in after EastEnders...
Part 5 is here.