IT’S autumn — time to turn the heating back on and rummage through your wardrobe for the trusty 50-denier tights. For little people, it means back to school, or for the very little ones — just school. I pass them on my walk to work on bright September mornings, crisp and cool. They walk a few paces behind their mothers, heads down, shy but immaculate in their new uniforms — I’d love to take a picture now and then again in six months when the cuffs on those itchy wool jumpers will be frayed and the ink-stained ties won’t be so neatly knotted.
Some of them will thrive, some will hate every second, they will bully and be bullied, but everyone I pass makes me think the same thing: I wouldn’t go back if you paid me. I was pretty good at the academic side of school, especially English (one notable exception being when I misunderstood a comment about my ‘cavalier’ attitude to handing in homework and took it as a compliment). The social side was trickier.
I was bullied briefly, like almost everyone else. They filled my coat pockets with gravel, tripped me up as I walked down the corridor. Now, when I’m stressed, my worry dreams are always about school or college — I pass all my classmates pouring out the exam hall discussing a test that makes up 90pc of our mark for the year, and I’ve missed it, or I get a call from my university saying ‘ hang on, there’s been a mistake…’ I’ve got a dose of the back-toschool blues myself, to be honest.
After two weeks of holidays, getting back to reality is a lot like going back to school: long days at a desk, sitting on the bus praying you won’t be late and sad sandwiches for lunch. But just like those schoolkids, after a few mornings struggling to get out of bed, I’ll get used to it.