Having a recent clear out and tidy up of shelves and drawers, I came across a school exercise book, entitled, along with my name, “Autobiography” and “Form 4A”. That was when I was 14 or 15 years old, at school in London, and mostly behaving myself.
I’d filled all but a few pages at the back with recollections from early childhood up to my teenaged self at the time. The contents – probably the outline given by teachers for this project – included “My First Day at School”, “An Early Achievement”, “A Film I always Remember”, “My Happiest/Saddest Day”and so on. My handwriting was super neat; a fountain pen filled with Stephen’s vibrant blue ink had been used, and my somewhat immature words of wisdom were illustrated with black and white photos of myself at various ages.
The whole thing made for a fascinating, nostalgic read and the photos brought back many memories, but what really grabbed my attention were the two final sections.
The penultimate one, “What I want to be”, begins: “My future ambition is to be a primary school teacher. I intend to stay at school until the sixth year, by which time I will be eighteen. The qualifications that I will need will be at least five GCE’s at “O” Level, but I hope to pass English and History at both “O” and “A” level…..”
I got the 5 “O”s – English was one of them – and the 2 “A”s, but they were French and Art. And I did become a primary school teacher. Prophetic? Or just aiming for something I really wanted, and succeeding in getting there?
What I’d written in the final section – “The World I Want” – was not so very far from where I am now, decades later, in my attitudes, values and viewpoints. The world my teenage self wanted then was one “….where disputes against foreign countries should be forgotten….every man and woman should have an equal chance to live prosperously….violence has no place as it creates fear…all children should be given an equal chance for a good education….” Idealistic yes, but much of what I’d written then I agree with now. These were formative years, but I knew what I wanted. Lowering the current voting agefrom 18 to 16 would seem to make a lot of sense.
The photo of my teenage self was taken when I was 13, and I thought I looked the bees knees in that dress!