Insanity Crash: Mark & Neds: A Serial Piece about Glasgow’s Ne’er-do-wells 2

The last post on this was way back on the 25th October, so instead of this being the serial that I was expecting or hoping, this post is more like a sequel. In my childhood my runnings with the Neds were quite frequent, and this can be attributed to a few things. Firstly, I live in an area with a smattering of them, being in the cusp of Working Class and Middle Class housing. Also, I went to a state school that’s catchment area is not the most desirable. Above all, however, it the deep-end throwing of those first few days, and years, of high school.

I remember my first day at high school very well. I can remember the excitement, the nervousness, the height, and I can also remember my first ever mistake. When I was walking up the grass that used to line the car park (now where the new building is – how “the school I went to” has became “where I went to school” is rather sad) I saw someone I recognised – so I said hello. “Hello” I said, “It is Saleem isn’t it?”
“No, I’m Imran.”
First and last time I would ever get the two mixed up.

The dividing of the children into the classes was rather barbaric, being told I was in 1D would be hilarious – every single one of my friends was ending up in 1B and 1E. There were a few I recognised, namely the Neds from our school.

By the end of the day, I was sure there had been mistake – not to sound arrogant (or a bastard) but I was the smartest guy in class, and that is a fact. Those who know me will be able to gauge just how bad the rest of the class must have been, and for this reason, the teachers always seemed to have a slight sympathy for me. I remember Mrs Jeyes commenting that even though I was rubbish at spelling, she was surprised at the practical class split. I also remember Mr Hamilton, our techy teacher in 2nd year taking me aside and said “I want you to do this in 3rd year, only for my own sake.” I didn’t really get why at the time, but now I can smell his cigarette breath and hear the rest of the class in the background, dawning realisation on my head.

But this is supposed to be about neds, and I think I have gone too far into the future from when the story takes place. So, head back into first year, and our science class, and into our first ever project – The Solar System.

So, as previously said, we had just got our first PC that year before, so when I told my father that I had a project, we set about using Encarta 95, AutoCAD, and the Inter-net to get my information and present my project with. So, diagrams were drawn, admittedly, by me using my hand and translated into real drawings by my father and a bit by me. I still have no idea how to use AutoCAD properly, even after doing a year long class on it at University. Encarta was transcribed, and some of the text was copied, but mostly I rewrote what I wanted in the project. If my memory serves me right I think all text that we copied had actually been cited, saying it had been CRTL+Ced.

So, I was feeling smug. I handed it in, to notice that mine was the only one done by a PC.

A week later, and the results were announced to the class. As you may know, my last name tends to be at the end of alphabetical lists, with the proliferation of Mc’s in the classrooms, so lots of results had been read out before mine. Picture the scene…

“O’Hagan, 16 of out 20.”
“Phillips, 12 out of 20.”
“Shields…”

And I waited.

“…2 out of 20”.

Time stopped. The class, who knew I was a smart (and by the definition of the time, gay) pupil, audibly gasped. One member, sitting directly in front of me, turned round and said something. I can’t remember hearing it as all the blood in body has gone to my cheeks – I think I went Infrared. The teacher, the late Mr Allan, added “Because copying it out of a book is not doing what I asked.” And my heart collapsed. A little part of me died inside, as I walked up to collect it. He was wobbling with anger – later, I would learn that was the drink – and I slunked back to the bench, totally destroyed. To say I was upset is an understatement.

My mum phoned the school. My father was enraged. My sister had no idea what was going on. Basically, my mum was shocked at the teacher’s ignorance, and also devastated that the amount of effort (nigh as a family no less) had amounted to nothing. So, in true geek style, he changed the marks, after the head teacher and the guidance teacher had became involved. He apologised to me after class one day, after sitting me down and taking me through the report page by page, asking me questions on the subjects – something he should have done in the first place really - just to check I had sorted it out, and did it for real.

After that though, I was a hero. I had both been embarrassed in front of the whole class giving undue hilarity and also proved the teacher wrong to boot. Neds knew then that I was the guy to ask the questions, to give them the answers. Probably saved my skin a few times too…