I’m looking for places to give more talks about Social Anxiety in the UK during the first half of March. Because everyone should know about it but so few do.

Maybe you belong to a social group where they’d be interested. Or you have connections with a library, college, uni, school or…. The possibilities are endless.

I will be there anyway to lead an NUT workshop and to give talks.

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What’s the point of school? Why are children sent to school? What do we hope they’ll get from it?

I think a good school should show children what’s available to learn and encourage them to discover as much as they can. It should make them excited about all the possibilities and hungry for knowledge.

My school did the opposite for me. Looking back now, I can recognise that some of the teaching was less than inspiring. But I think the main problem was that I was made to learn things I wasn’t ready for.

I received a mark of 29% for my first History exam. Although I worked at it and revised before the exam, that was all I managed, and later on I came to the conclusion that history before the 17th century  is just too boring to remember. But my poor grade was also the result of not being used to thinking and writing fast, because that’s what you have to do in a History exam.

And then, in English, we had to read a book called Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff. This historical adventure novel is set in Roman Britain in the 2nd century and I hated it. Looking back, that could be because I didn’t understand it, because I wasn’t ready for it. Maybe if I read it now I’d enjoy it. All it told me then was that ancient history was boring. I was happy to be able to leave ancient history and move on to times that made more sense to me. Whether that was because those times were closer to modern times or because I’d matured in the meantime and was more able to follow, I don’t know, but I haven’t returned to ancient history since then.

The Beltane ChoiceUntil now. I won an ecopy of Nancy Jardine’s novel, The Beltane Choice, which is set in Celtic/Roman Britain in the year 71. I started reading it with some apprehension and I did find it a little slow at the beginning. But the writing was good enough for me to keep going and soon I became involved in the story of the two main characters, really hoping they would be able to overcome all the odds.

This is such a beautifully told story that even I could put my preconceived notions aside and immerse myself in the lives of the Celtic warriors. Even the sex scenes, as I mentioned in a previous post, are described with passion and sensitivity and just the right amount of detail.

Maybe, one day, I’ll have another go at art – another subject I hated at school. But I can’t see myself ever playing hockey again!

Insight

Memoir Writing

This post is one of 26 I am writing for the A-Z Challenge on the subject of writing a memoir. I’m not an expert in writing memoirs, but I’m exploring the topic with thoughts about writing one, and am happy to share the fruits of my exploration.

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MemoirWriting-Insight1

To write a memoir, you need to have reached the point where you have insight into episodes from your past that you didn’t have before. This is another reason why you need detachment.

Here’s an episode from my past, aged 15, plus a recent insight:

Mrs B is organising a skiing trip and I’m booked to go. I’ve never been skiing and I’ve never been able to go on a school trip before. I’m very excited.

Mum returns from the parents’ meeting.

“I met R’s mother and we had a long chat. She told me R is also going on the skiing trip.”

I nod. I don’t tell Mum, but I’m expecting trouble. R doesn’t like me. I don’t know why, but I know she doesn’t.

A few days later Mum tells me that Mrs B phoned her. “She’s very sorry, but she’s had to cancel the trip.”

I don’t believe that and my doubts are confirmed by L who suggested I joined the trip in the first place and is still going. How could Mrs B have lied like that?

Decades later, I don’t think Mrs B lied. I think my mother lied because she wanted to protect me from the truth, although really she didn’t protect me from anything and it would have been much better if we could have talked it through.

Note: I love to read your comments, especially when they’re attached to the right post. Please remember the Comments button is at the top of this post.

Yes, I have decided to reveal all. I realise this could have serious consequences for me, notably that they’ll be coming to take me away. I just don’t know who “they” are.

So this is it. I promise I didn’t make this up. No, in fact I borrowed it from mapelba, who wrote it this comment: “I was a first class criminal in high school. I broke the laws of fitting in.”

A great comment. I could have said it myself. If I’d been clever enough.

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My next post may well highlight the wide diversity in shapes and sizes of boo….

Until next time 🙂

I’ve been to three reunions altogether. Each time I was left with a different feeling, although two of the reunions were mostly with the same people.

The first one was with people from my secondary school. (That’s high school in the US. Maybe even in Britain now – I don’t know.) I spent seven years at that all-girls’ school – from age 11 to age 17 – and when I left I didn’t want any connection with any of those girls. It was that bad. And so it would have remained if it weren’t for the Internet and getting in touch with four lovely women who happened to be former colleagues. These women, via numerous emails, helped me to come to terms with the events of the long-distant past. It wasn’t that I blamed them or any of the girls at school; just that I wanted to block it all out. But, as I’ve said before, I think that was a mistake.

Anyway, the four all invited me to stay in their homes before the reunion, and by the day of the reunion, I wasn’t feeling too nervous about it. The event turned out to be very enjoyable and the best part of it, for me, was that everyone there treated me as a normal person – as opposed to our school years when they didn’t, as I remember. Actually, the hardest part was the conversation between those four and me after the reunion, which foreshadowed the subsequent reunion, but I ignored that and revelled in my feelings about the main event.

My next reunion was at my college of London University. It brought back memories of living in the impressive Victorian building, but not many memories of the students. In fact, in contrast to the people I went to school with, hardly any of the former students were familiar to me – apart from the few I’d kept in contact with. So the reunion was enjoyable but disappointing. I decided to give the next reunion, to be held this month, a miss.

The third reunion, again of my school, left me feeling very different from the way I felt after the first one, despite the fact that most of the participants had been at the first one, and they were all just as pleasant. We sat around a table and remembered our shared past, as one does at reunions. And I realised that we didn’t really share a past. That I didn’t remember the things they remembered, and they didn’t remember the things I remembered. And also, that the things I remembered were things they probably didn’t want to hear. They wanted to talk about the fun times and I didn’t remember any, because I wasn’t part of them.

So, it seems I’ve had my fill of reunions. How about you? From the comments to my previous post, I see I’m not alone.

Me at eleven

Me nowWe learn throughout our lives, but most of our learning is done in childhood. In eighteen years, we’re supposed to advance from knowing absolutely nothing to knowing enough to manage on our own in this complicated world. What we need to learn isn’t just how to calculate the area of a triangle, or the difference between “its” and “it’s” [sorry – forget the second one: it’s apparently not important these days and probably not PC to even mention it].

We also have to learn how to get on with other people, how to communicate with them, because we’re all in this world together and we need each other to get anywhere. Besides, it’s pretty boring with only yourself for company.

Most children get sent to school to learn these things. This seems a good idea because, not only do you learn academic subjects, but you also have to interact with a lot of people. What happens if it goes wrong? – pear-shaped, I believe, is the current term.

I didn’t learn how to communicate with others at school. Instead, I learnt not to communicate, because anything I said could be remembered and used to bully me. And my teachers, who knew how to communicate and should have seen what was going on, didn’t think of communicating anything to me or finding anyone else to communicate with me. Reports complaining that I didn’t take enough part in lessons, and monologues after years of my non-communication telling me to change my attitude weren’t exactly the right approach.

Someone should have delved deeper and made me understand how I felt when I was teased or ostracised, or when my only friend suddenly vanished. But no one did.

I’d like to think that things have changed in all the years that have passed since I was at school. I’d like to think that teachers now care about the emotional well-being of their pupils and know how to handle problems. I fear that this is not true. That, just like then, they act when children are disruptive and fail to act when they’re not.

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