We made our way to geography class and we were to be taught by Mr. Steve Kelly.
It needs to be said that Steve and I are ok now and I’ve seen and spoken to him many times since leaving school.
We are not at the playing golf every Sunday stage or do I have his number on my phone but I’m glad there is no bad blood.
I must have played my part in our volatile relationship but I think a lot of that was because I stood up to him.
This was a bad move on my part because like many teachers of that era he was quite vindictive and held a grudge and believe me, he got me back later which ill explain in the story.
Kelly was about thirty and was in decent shape and also was partial to twenty minutes a day on the sunbed.
There is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself at all but he did look like a boy band member.
In a way, I can understand his arrogance, as well as this, was 1991, and very few people trained back in those days.
Kelly was proficient in karate and I’ve had other sources back this up which makes the story of what happened next a little bit strange.
He was no idiot and knew how to take care of himself so I didn’t understand his need for grandstanding as well especially in a class full of teenagers.
We came into class and it seemed he had a problem with most of the lads.
If the lads asked him anything more often than not he would answer with a shitty comment but if one of the girls asked a question he was either a good teacher or turned into a stand-up comedian.
How can I put this he was funny but probably 6/10 funny and not the 10/10 funny that he thought he was.
Kelly didn’t have a lot of time for me from the start especially when he would try to be funny and I would counter him.
Sometimes I would land and sometimes I would miss but when other people would laugh at my counter he did not like that one bit so it’s safe to say my cards were marked.
One day Kelly was telling the girls about karate and how he had been doing it for years.
It was years later when I confirmed this as true as I have a lot of friends from the karate world and they said he had his black belt and he could scrap.
Kelly used to work the doors in Liverpool at the weekend as well and like I mentioned with Mr. Duffy in the last blog there were no jacket fillers back then and the club scene was a much harsher environment.
There is no way he could have even got a start unless someone had recommended him.
When I left the army in 2002 the only reason I was able to start working nightclub security was that my uncle John Mckenna had recommended me.
He had been doing it for years and had a reputation so it was his nod that got me the start.
It was even harder pre 2000 to get a start so that’s how I knew Kelly was legit.
Kelly suddenly had to stop working the clubs because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A fight broke out in the club he was working and he dragged a guy out and threw him into the street.
Kelly was right to do this but the next thing he heard this woman next to him scream and say oh my god that bouncer teaches my little Katie.
Kelly knew he was in trouble and quick as a flash said
No way do you know our Steve then?
You’re not Steve Kelly the woman said confused
No, no that’s my brother that
Luckily for Kelly, the woman believed him but it was the warning he needed to get off the doors for good, and even back then when it was a much more respected job there was more of a future with teaching.
Kelly is in full throttle in the class talking to the girls about karate and shooting down any lads that have a question for him.
He then starts doing a karate demonstration in the class.
He’s doing the noises but all at about fifty percent effort because he was in a suit, not a Karate gi.
Most of the class was watching intently and none of us knew any karate so it was better than learning about water supplies in Peru.
The demonstration goes on and all of the lads are looking at each other not quite knowing what to say and five minutes later the lesson started.
Kelly starts handing out our workbooks to the class
OK, then Linda and then a fancy backhand throw, Leanne and another throw backward or under the leg, and each time they got more creative.
If it was one of the lad’s workbooks he would just throw the book at them normally and say nothing.
Kelly is handing out the books and the pile is getting smaller and smaller and he comes to my book.
He throws the book at me very hard which hits me in the face.
Acting on sheer adrenaline and rage I launched the book back at him which then hit Kelly in the face.
Kelly is furious and marches over to my table with a big red face.
I jump out of my chair and I think this is definitely on now.
As I had been the victim of violence in the hands of Francesca and like I mentioned in last week’s story no teacher was ever going to put their hands on me again no matter the cost.
In my mind this was the natural progression of violence it starts off with shitty comments and then it gets more personal.
If the person thinks they will get away with it they will take it to the next stage.
Why wouldn’t they? after all its all started from them disrespecting you.
After someone has hit you what’s to stop them from taking it further and then you become a victim.
So in my mind at an early age don’t leave anything left to the imagination and make it clear that you are willing to take it to that horrible place and quickly.
In the few seconds that had passed, I had got myself in that dark place and if needed I would fight Kelly until one of us was dead.
I had no idea of his background and that he could fuck me up quite easily and I think that’s what surprised him that I was game and how I had got so angry and quickly.
Get out of my class right now lad Kelly screamed at me
He was too close to me and he grabbed my shoulder and tried to pull me out of the class
I moved my shoulder back quickly forcing him to lose his grip and we were in the middle of a stare-down.
Don’t look at me like that son
I stared back with eyes of hatred. I didn’t hate him even though at the time I didn’t especially like him but I needed this hatred in my mind if I was going to survive the next few minutes.
Don’t look at me like that
Sit down right now he screamed at me
I wasn’t going anywhere and he saw that. He also twigged that I had absolutely nothing to lose and he had a lot that could be flushed down the toilet so he took a step back and continued handing out books without a word to me.
Twenty seconds after he was out of my personal space I sat down and slowly managed to calm myself down.
I finished the lesson in silence and just kept myself to myself and he did the same.
Things were not resolved with me and Kelly after this although he never came up in my personal space again.
He never had anything especially nice to say to me either but he never singled me out of tried to make a cunt out of me either as he knew I would kick off if needed.
We had a couple more run-ins throughout the year and I probably could have acted differently but I was 11 and he was 30 so surely he should have been a lot more evolved?
I think it was a sign of the times with all these vindictive teachers who held a grudge and targeted pupils.
I’ve given many examples of this in past blogs and will give more in the future.
The example I give which stands out the most was the deputy head, Phil, from my junior school.
A violent man towards many students who got away with it for years.
It was no coincidence that he tried to target Michael Kerfoot knowing quite well that Mike was in a children’s home.
I feel if Mike hadn’t been Mike and always stood up to him the abuse could have easily a lot darker and way more sinister.
There were many cases of this in the 80s and 90s and the way our headmaster Mr. Owen covered for Phil it was obvious they had some serious dirt on each other.
Luckily Mike was game as a badger and didn’t take shit off anyone.
Looks like Phil picked the wrong target that time……..that time.
Things did get heated a couple more times with Kelly but it was never in a way where I thought violence was coming but it was clear he hated me with a passion.
Mum had to come up to the school a couple of times and even then they both could not come to a middle ground.
As I had dared to stand up to him my cards were marked and he couldn’t hide his disdain for me even for twenty minutes during the parent meeting.
Mum is very calm and a softy spoken person but she won’t take any shit either so when he started fobbing her off they ended up in an argument as well.
By sheer chance, a week after this parent’s meeting mum was on a night out with a bunch of her friends she had known for years.
They were heading into town for drinks but meeting a couple more people who mum didn’t know.
This guy approaches the group and his face turned sour as did my mum’s.
It was Steve Kelly.
Her friend says to her this is Steve and Carol quickly interrupted and said yeah we’ve met.
They didn’t say a word to each other all night.
Kelly left me alone for the rest of the year but he was getting ready for one final fuck you and he delivered it with precision.
When the end-of-year reports came out he had crucified me.
He wrote that I had very little ability and that I had a very dismal future.
He also said that I was stupid and didn’t try and that was probably for the best because I couldn’t manage anything past 2 plus 2.
Mum went mad and was going to go back to school for a war.
She was not angry with me but angrier with his disgusting attitude.
She also realised that going up to the school would achieve nothing.
Teachers had a lot more power back then and complaints like this were ten a penny.
It also didn’t help that I was dyslexic and because I couldn’t put onto paper what I really meant Kelly had completely written me off as had many teachers.
To be honest, though I think it was more about me standing up to him and what he had heard in the staff room so this was another case of a supposedly educated person believing everything that’s told them without question.
I went through many years of shit like this with many teachers although this was the last time I had felt threatened in a way that violence would be used against me.
That was good for my own well-being but I paid a price in many other ways.
Many teachers of terrible cowards and will stab you in the back without thinking twice about it.
The profession has improved a lot but there is still a long way to go before it is perfect.
Its teachers like Kelly, and Francesca telling me I was no good and I would never amount to anything, and even a couple of years ago when
I was told by Lila language school that I wasn’t good enough to get on their CELTA course.
When I was younger this turned into pure rage but when I was older I got past this. I would think to myself fuck you and then go and do whatever it was I was told I couldn’t do.
Wen I was told I wasn’t good enough to do the CELTA course for my ESL teacher accreditation I told the head instructor if you dont let me on this course I will just go around you.
He thought the idea of me doing this and finding another similar course was laughable and he sent me the most condescending email telling me that I should hit the books and try again in three months……………. to give him my money.
Not only did I save myself 700 quid but I found a nearly the same course which I passed with flying colours while still working and over the Christmas period so it was a win win for everyone especially me because I didn’t listen to the no.
It makes me really angry and I’ve had a lifetime of people like this who were clearly threatened by me in some way otherwise why go out of your way to try and belittle me or bully me?
I never saw much of Kelly after the first year we used to nod at each other if we walked past each other in the corridor but we never stopped to chat we both didn’t have the time of day for each other.
Years later when I was working in Iraq around 2005 which was 9 years after I had left school I bumped into Kelly in town.
To be fair he made a point of coming over and talking to me.
I wasn’t holding a grudge and I acknowledged to myself he had made the effort to come over and chat with me.
I put away any angry thoughts towards him and we ended up having a chat with him.
He seemed genuinely pleased that I was doing well and he went on his way into the night.
I bumped into him at least ten more times over the next few years and he seemed like a different person.
He always stopped for a chat and one time I ended up chatting with him fr a good twenty minutes in JD sports in Speke.
It was good that there were no bad feelings and we both were evolved enough to put our differences aside.
He never apologised to me for his actions but then I wasn’t looking for that and it’s clear to see he has grown as a person and even though I haven’t seen him for years I don’t think he’s a bully.
He ended up going to a school close to Gateacre called New Hayes which he became the deputy head.
I can’t remember exactly what he told me but I think he is now a headteacher and close to retirement.
There was another time recently I saw Kelly and I was gutted but I think a lot of this was my own insecurity.
After I graduated I was finding it hard to get a job so I decided to drive a taxi until something better came up.
I had no idea when that would be so I decided to use my own car as a taxi and start working for Uber.
I had just spent my final year in university and all of those 3 am library sessions, junk food, stress, and not training had caught up to me.
I was two stone overweight and I had been living hand to mouth for close to five years while I had completed college and university.
I was in the doctor’s office waiting for my taxi medical and Kelly walked in.
He was polite to me and we had a good chat but a big part of me was gutted.
Even Stevie Wonder could see I was out of shape and didn’t have a bean and it hurt twice as much with him seeing that.
All of his comments came back into my mind and it put me on a huge downer for the day.
It wouldn’t have been so bad if I was doing medical to work in a cool job but driving a cab is a job most people can get.
There’s nothing wrong with this job and you can make your money if you put the hours in but after his words, I felt like I was being judged.
It’s likely that he wasn’t judging me and he could probably see that I was thinking that and he wished me well.
You never bump into these people when you have just completed your mission to Mars it always seems to be when you are at your lowest.
Back to school, I knew I was on borrowed time and I thought it was a matter of time before I have to fight for real.
I loved boxing and I wanted to learn more as I remember staying up late to watch the fights.
I had done some karate when I was a kid but it was only for a few months so I knew it was time for me to make this change.
Between boxing clubs, gyms, and the army cadets later on this kept me on the straight and narrow and taught me respect and humility.
These places saved my life as on my current bearing I was heading down shit street at one hundred miles an hour with no brakes.