Before I continue with my story I want to thank everyone who is still reading and following this blog.
I’ve now been writing this for ten months and still haven’t scratched the surface of my life and my story so far.
Each day I’m making new memories so if all goes to plan this blog will never end.
My life hasn’t always been chaos and as I said in the first episode there have been serious highs as well as lows and I feel it’s important to tell everything in the story even if that means the odd week could be a little dull.
I do believe writing is a lot like comedy and it’s all in the delivery but if every week sounded like a John Woo movie or I end up the hero in every story most of you would just put it down to bullshit or call me an attention seeker.
I think it should be noted as well that everyone wants to hear a success story but they also want to hear the fucked up dark twisted stuff as well.
This shows the people reading this who are possibly in a bad place that we are all capable of making poor choices especially when you put drugs and alcohol into the mix.
A good friend of mine Phil Taylor asked me a few months ago when I would be posting in my blog about all the travel I have done especially in Asia.
I told him the truth that I could start that now but it would then just be another travel blog amongst thousands.
I plan to have a much more established audience first and then I can begin that stage of the blog.
Having said that I didn’t plan to still be at the childhood stage of the story 40 weeks in so its anyone guesses where the writing will take me.
For all of you though thank you its greatly appreciated especially the people who have messaged me privately.
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Well then back to the story the school holidays had finished at what seemed like lightning speed and we were all starting at our new school
Gateace Community Comprehensive School.
The school was old and falling apart and that was in 1991. It was purpose-built in the 50s and even when mum went there the place was still a dump.
Spoiler alert it never got any better and it was slowly falling apart when we were there.
These are some pictures of the main building which I’ve posted below.
There was a lower building as well which looked a lot like the main building but smaller.
Later on, when Speke comp and a couple of other schools closed down they built another modern building but with the sheer volume of children, all fighting for the smallest space the conditions were still pretty bad.
Luckily none of that happened when I was there so we just made the best out of the place and as the saying goes it’s amazing what you can get used to.
Gatecacre Comprehensive as I know it has been dead for years.
They built a brand new school which is close to Belle Vale shopping centre and the old school was left to rot.
I think it was used to house refugees for a while as there was a lot of activity in the building but the people inside never left the school grounds and the gates were always locked.
The old school was eventually demolished a few years ago and property developers bought the land.
It’s in a nice area and 200 homes were built on the site where the school used to be.
I think most of the homes were sold quickly as it’s been a sought-after location for many years and you won’t get much change from half a million quid if you buy one of the houses.
Some of the houses are even more expensive which baffles me.
I understand how prices have got higher over the years but if your going to spend that kind of money on a property why would you buy something this modern?
They are not built to last and are usually thrown together in the quickest possible time.
My friend Danielle bought a house built similarly and two weeks after moving in her glass patio doors fell inside along with the doorway into pieces.
Granted the developers came and fixed it right away but to me, I can think of many other places I would much rather buy.
We were all packed into the main hall and we were given a welcome talk by the headmaster Mr. Barnes.
Barnes was a lovely guy who genuinely cared about the welfare of his pupils and overall was a nice likeable guy.
The only problem was that he thought he was John Barnes who at the time played for Liverpool FC.
Any time he gave a speech he would bring whatever the topic was back round to football.
He was a nice guy but it became predictable after a while.
This isn’t a criticism whatsoever and in hindsight, it was genius that he managed this.
You could be talking about your grandma, the stock exchange, global warming, he would somehow steer the conversation back to football.
Barnes retired about 15 years ago and I used to always see him in my old gym which was the David Lloyd.
It was always nice to see him and like in school he always had a smile on his face and was always wanting to have a chat.
When I stopped going to that gym I saw him less and less but I know people who I went to school with who are now teachers and are in contact with him.
They tell me he’s doing fine and is the same person as he was in school.
I hope he reads this as I had a lot of time for him even though I’m taking the piss a bit here.
We also had two teachers who went on to become famous. They were married to each other as well.
Leon and June Bernicoff would go on to star in the hit TV show Gogglebox.
It’s not something I would normally watch but since it had Leon and June on it I watched the odd episode.
They never taught me full time but they covered my classes on numerous occasions.
At first, I never got on with June with was probably my fault.
I was very guarded and very anti-school after my horrible past experiences which I’ve spoken about in earlier blogs.
A lot of this came from my dyslexia and the lack of understanding and empathy which came from so many of my teachers.
At first, she thought I was a bad kid but when we got to know each other as time went on we got on very well.
Leon retired a couple of years before June did and when we were new to the school he was on his way out.
He had been there for years and he had the respect of his peers.
I think each year he was doing less and because the school was short-staffed he was happy to help out.
He used to wear his trousers up over his belly and he could shout when needed.
He would go nuts if we pushed him too far and he would come at us with
If my two daughters in New Zealand spoke to me like that they would be black and blue.
He and June were old-school-style teachers but they were also very professional.
Granted they would shout at you if you deserved it but the next day it was forgotten about.
They would always say hello to me or stop for a chat they were good people.
I was constantly in trouble in high school but she saw past that and as a result, I always showed them my utmost respect.
Unfortunately, Leon died in 2017 he was 83 and June decided not to return to the show after that. She said it wouldn’t be the same without him and she was right
June died in 2020 after a short illness even though I hadn’t seen her in years I was sad to hear this.
I don’t mean this in a nasty way but both of them were dinosaurs in the mindset and way of thinking but at the same time, they made a positive impact on many children.
Leon would tell us stories from when he was a boy and the harsh treatment he received as a Jew growing up during WW2.
He never told these stories as a victim he was trying to make us more accepting of people who were different.
We didn’t realise it at the time but he was passing on serious peals of wisdom but when you are kids you don’t notice this until many years later.
I just found from a quick google search that they also wrote a book about their lives together.
What a lovely couple and I’m glad that I got to know them and be a part of their lives no matter if it was very small.
So after our thirty-minute induction speech about the school well twenty minutes of this was about football we were introduced to our year head who then took over as Barnes hadn’t watched any football in at least an hour and had to go quickly before he imploded.
Janine Kitchen took over the stage and give us her welcome speech and
then laid down the law about our new school.
I didn’t like Janine at first and you didn’t want to mess with her.
You would never get shouted at for no reason but if you got sent to her you knew you were going to get your arse chewed out big time.
She was another teacher who warmed to me when she realised I wasn’t a bad kid.
I would always be in trouble and most of the time it was because I had acted out.
It was never without reason and many teachers are not evolved enough to go to the source of the problem.
They won’t think why is this child acting like this it’s just quicker and easier to give detention or to scream at them in the corridor.
A few would pick their mark and hit students but luckily that never happened to me in Gateace school.
It was close a couple of times but these teachers soon backed off when they saw how I could get extremely angry in a matter of seconds.
Teachers who even consider hitting a child are the worst cowards of all and when they see you ready to leave it all out on the line they will quickly back off.
This is for many reasons usually its sheer cowardice.
There are a lot more reasons for this for example what if they lose?
How could they live it down if they got their head smashed in by a pupil?
What if they got fired and worst of all what if they went to prison?
Issues like this are a rarity these days and there are a lot more safeguards in place but back then if a teacher thought they could get away with it they would punch you without giving it a second thought.
I need to make it clear that not all teachers were like that.
I mean the bad apples but due to safeguarding being nonexistent there were a lot more of them in the barrel.
A prime example of this was a teacher we had who was nicknamed psycho Evans.
He used to flip out on the students and sometimes throw stools across the lab.
He made the newspapers towards the end of our first year as he was being fired for racism.
A black student had joined his class and he couldn’t pronounce her name so expecting a laugh from the class he said
Oh it’s ok ill just call you golliwog
As you can imagine the whole class was silent and the girl in question reported him.
He was fired and it made the national papers it was clear that teachers could not behave how they wanted anymore.
Fifteen years later Evans claimed he was dismissed unfairly and Barnes and coached a lot of the students.
I don’t know if there was any truth in the matter but I think what was most likely is that Barnes wanted him gone.
I remember how quickly Mr. Moore was fired in primary school but then he did have some serious red flags against his name.
I’m unsure what happened next as Barnes had been retired for years as had Evans but no doubt he would have got some compensation as this made the papers again years later.
Back to Janine one of the reasons she liked me is because I always told the truth.
Whenever I was sent to her office in trouble with a teacher or I had been fighting I just told her what I had done and why I had done it.
I would still be punished and I would still get a bollocking but it wasn’t personal she was just doing her job.
When we spoke outside of her office she could see that I wasn’t arsed about school.
She was in a tight spot as she knew I had difficulties but the help was not available at the time so she was quite supportive of me throughout the years.
I would get away with a lot of minor stuff as well as she knew there wasn’t much more they could do except kick me out.
The deterrent of being kicked out didn’t phase me either so she did the right thing and tried her best to work with me.
I remember in the third year of high school she told me to see her after assembly.
I want a word with you
Did you miss Geography class yesterday?
What really? Why didn’t you go?
I didn’t feel like it miss.
Miss Kitchen didn’t know what to say to this as she wasn’t expecting me to come out and admit it straight away and this caught her off guard.
That’s not the right attitude is it Arlo?
Its nothing to do with attitude miss. I wasn’t feeling too good I felt a bit stressed and I couldn’t be bothered going to a class which would probably lead to me having murder with the teacher.
I understand where your coming from, to be honest.
Besides miss, I have never done it before
I had done it before but she had never caught me as I didn’t take the piss and only did it once in a while.
She thought about this for a second then said to me
Fair enough Arlo my door is always open if you want to talk but you can’t miss any more classes or ill have to punish you ok?
Fair enough, I’m sorry miss
It’s ok lad run along now
Just like that I had got away with it. You could end up in serious trouble for stuff like that but honestly saved the day and to be fair I didn’t bunk off lessons anymore as I knew I would be under the spotlight more.
I’ve tried to look for Janine on Facebook and online but I can’t find anything about her.
I heard she retired a few years ago but that’s it after that she is a ghost.
Whatever she doing I wish her well she was a hard but fair woman who didn’t take shit off anyone and I respected her for that.
After the speech, we were broken off into groups and we learned this would be our form class for the next five years.
Our form tutor was a guy called Steve Harvey.
A fantastic teacher who was very similar to Janine Kitchen.
He took no shit but you could have a laugh with him and like Janine, if you got took outside the class you knew you were in for a serious arse chewing.
On the flip side though once it was over then it was forgotten about.
Steve Harvey was the absolute ringer of Rene from the tv series Allo Allo which was airing at the time.
I called him this one day and he flipped out he didn’t like it one bit.
I don’t know why he was so bothered as you can see from the picture below.
Later on, he got himself in great shape and you would see him running around the running track at lunchtime.
He lost a lot of weight and he looked amazing.
I’m not sure what happened to Steve and it’s impossible to find him online as there is a comedian called Steve Harvey and like Janine, he’s a ghost.
I know he had some personal problems and he left Gateacre a few years after we left but that’s the extent of the information that I have.
He had a little lad who sometimes would come into school with him.
You could see as well as being a great teacher he was a good loving father and his boy on the occasions we met his son he seemed happy.
It would be nice if the people I’ve mentioned see this at some point and make contact.
I have so much disdain for many teachers but who I’ve spoken about today were all so good to me.
They figured out early if you talk to Arlo like he’s a person you can usually get to the route of the problem.
So we all followed Steve Harvey to our new form room in the lower building.
We stopped at room La5 and he unlocked the door for us.
We didn’t know what to expect and the only person I recognized from Woolton was Ian Black.
It was going to be a very interesting few years that’s for sure.