An extract from the diary of my 12 year-old self…
9/6/88 – Thursday
Every year in [our town] at the Gala day their is a swimming gala where every school enters a team of 6 girls and six boys and we have races etc. Lisa (who is now my best friend along with Laurie) decided to enter for the trials. Julie and Laurie took us down to the pool along with my mum and we got changed and went into the pool. Lucy (who doesn’t like me for some strange reason) and Angie were also
their there at the trials along with Kelly (a primary six girl) but we were the only girls their there. [At some point between the start of this entry and this sentence, I apparently learned the difference between ‘there’ and ‘their’ – AT LAST!] We got changed and then Mrs H (who was testing us) took down our names. She told us that we would all be in the team because their [Aaaannd it’s gone...] was supposed to be 6 girls in the team and there were only 5 of us.
[This was literally the ONLY reason I made the team, and I seem to remember there being some debate about whether I should be allowed in, even then. I was REALLY bad at swimming, as you’re about to find out…]
We done 2 lengths to warm up and then [they] paired us up to time us . I had to go with a primary 6 boy called Lewis and we had to do front crawl, which I am not very good at. We had to dive in, and race for 2 lengths doing front crawl. She said Go! and we started. When I dived in my goggles slid down until they were over my eyes, trapping them shut. I didn’t have time to fix them so I kept going. I went in a diagonal across the pool and when I got to the end and stood up to turn at the bottom of the pool I felt really dizzy and staggered about before I could start again, I eventually finished but was very embarrassed! I finished in 1.15 seconds and most other people finished in about one min. [I’m guessing I mean I finished in one minute 15 seconds, not 1.15 seconds, obviously…]
After that I had to race Lisa at Breast stroke. I was doing OK and was was well up in front when I swallowed a mouthfull of water, and at the same time a girl stepped out in front of me. I stopped to let her pass but Lisa had already drew ahead because of my stop. I got back and began to feel really sick but luckily I’m in the team. I have also entered for the Top of the Form quiz where again a team is selected from each school and we are asked general knowledge questions. We haven’t had the trials for that yet. Apart from that I am also carrying the school banner in the the gala day procession and am in the school relay team so I’m going to be busy!
[Me in my school uniform, carrying the aforementioned banner in the gala day. I thought this showed school spirit, and would make everyone like me. Everyone else thought it just showed what an incorrigible “snob” I was, and hated me even more…]
Thats what happened today but since I haven’t written in my diary for such a long time I’d better bring you up to date on whats been happening to me lately. I have fallen out with Regina and Tanya yet again and have got them into quite a bit of trouble with the headmaster as they got some of their friends and ganged up on me on the way home from school one day trying to get me to fight Regina. My mum has been down to the school 3 times, my dad stayed off his work to go with her once and I have been to the headmaster about her 3 times but she still wont leave me alone.
[For some reason I thought the future readers of this diary wouldn’t be familiar with the concept of turning each page, so I added a handy ‘P.T.O’ to each page of this entry to help guide them through it. Because otherwise they’d have been just sitting there, going, “Wait: it just stops? What happens next?!]
Laurie, Julie and David have just returned from a 3 week holiday in America/Canada and had a good time. They brought me back a T shirt which has a comic picture of a horse on it and says ‘Arizona Horse Shirt’ [And I have JUST got that joke…] and a pair of mirror glasses which I had been wanting for ages. Julie, David, Laurie, my mum, dad and I are all going to Bournmouth to stay with David’s sister for a fortnights holiday. I’ve met Davids sister before 3 times and she’s really nice so I’m sure we’ll have a great time. I’m taking my diary with me to record the holiday and I’m reserving a page in it for things I must remember to take with me. I can’t wait to go.
Amber Louise McNaught
Excuse bad writing.
Present day Amber:
So! I guess this was when I discovered my joy of writing looooong diary posts, huh?
There’s so much to say about this one. As you might have guessed, the two major events here were not unconnected: in fact, the whole “trying out for the swimming team/quiz team/relay team/carrying the school banner” stuff was all part of my frantic, and yet totally doomed, attempt to fit in, after the bullying mentioned in the second part of the entry had gotten to a stage where I was basically being shunned by everyone, with the exception of Laurie (who was two years younger, and who I pretended not to know at school, anyway, because Tanya and Regina thought it was hilarious that I was friends with a BOY. The fact that Laurie was also considered “posh” was the final straw, really…), and Lisa.
As I mentioned in my last Secret Diary post, I was super into boarding school stories at the time, and from those, I’d come to realise the best way to earn the respect of your peers was by being really, really good at lacrosse. Unfortunately for me, our school didn’t have a lacrosse team (and if it did, you could bet I’d be terrible at it…), so I tried basically EVERYTHING ELSE instead: even swimming, which I was absolutely useless at. I think I thought that if I just kept trying, people would eventually like me, but… well, the fact that they’d all followed me home, hoping to see me get beaten up, kinda suggests otherwise, doesn’t it?
As for THAT episode, it’s really interesting to me that I just wrote one short paragraph about it, before going into the whole ‘Arizona Horse Shirt/My Awesome Mirrored Sunglasses’ thing, because this was probably the most significant event of my young life. When I say Regina and Tanya gathered “a few friends”, you see, what I’m NOT saying is that it was basically the whole class – even the boys, who didn’t normally concern themselves with all of the ‘Mean Girl’ crap that went on amongst us girls. They were waiting for me just outside the school gates (because they weren’t on school property, I think they assumed the school wouldn’t be able to do anything), and they surrounded me, hitting me with rolled-up umbrellas, while Regina taunted me, trying to get me to fight her. I wasn’t physically hurt, but mentally I don’t think I ever really got over it.
The thing that hurt me most here was that, amongst the crowd of kids who surrounded me that day were Luna, Hermione, and a bunch of other girls who I’d considered to be my “friends” – or who at least weren’t my enemies. In their defence, I realised even then that it wasn’t personal for most of the people there: half of them were just there for the drama of the promised fight, and the rest were there because Regina and Tanya had made it clear by then that anyone seen to be my friend would automatically become their enemy. Luna and co. didn’t actually join in the taunting that day, but the fact that they were even there broke my heart, and I refused to go to school the next morning… which was the point at which both of my parents had to pay a visit to the headmaster, while I sat weeping in Julie’s car outside the school gates, terrified to walk through them.
Much drama ensued. The headmaster’s solution to the issue was to keep me in school later than everyone else, so they couldn’t bully me on the way home. My parents did NOT take kindly to this suggestion, feeling it would not only fail to address the issue (and I knew they’d just wait for me, anyway), but would effectively punish ME for something that wasn’t my fault. In the end, Regina was summoned, and got a severe telling off, and instructions to write “I must not bully Amber” ten times. So, really effective punishment there: good work, that school!
(I remember us both being summoned to the headmaster’s office when this punishment was doled out. I started crying the second I walked through the door, as I always did: Regina, however, waited until later, and once we were dismissed, I discovered her in the girls bathroom, crying into the mirror. As much as I hated her by that point, I remember feeling a surge of sympathy, and feeling like I should go over and comfort her – then I immediately hated MYSELF for being so weak. Rough year, seriously.)
As for Luna, Hermione and co… well, unfortunately their parents took the whole situation a lot more seriously than Regina’s did (When my mum called Regina’s mother to try to resolve things privately, Regina’s mum said I was “a little bitch”, so I must have deserved it. Nice lady.), so they were all made to apologise to me. They did… but they also didn’t really speak to me much after that, because now I was a filthy snitch, basically. Thank goodness I had that holiday in Bournemouth to look forward to, huh? And so do you, of course: but that’s another story, for another time…