In my head live many things. Fantasies, dreams, memories. But most of all there live inside my head a collection of monsters.
These monsters are mainly of my own creation and have come from a mixture of: Enhanced Emotional Memory (photographic memory for happy and sad moments…from birth to now); a vivid imagination; an IQ over 125…and a large side order of paranoia with extra low self esteem.
I was bullied badly as I grew up. That’s true. Problem was that I was also told I should never hit back or even verbally retaliate. My mother told me at age 4 that “niceness” was the key to friends and a bruise free face. Problem was that she was extremely egotistical and arrogant, so when I got punched in the head anyway she decreed it was my fault for not being nice enough.
I was also neutered from physical aggression until I got to my mid twenties by this incident.
Moving on and it was a case of hearing cunty, ignorant mantras such as “two wrongs don’t make a right”, “you must have done something to provoke them” and that old chestnut “6 of 1, half a dozen of the other.”
Time moved on and the one or two serious incidents from my childhood began affecting other areas of my life. What I mean is, my amygdala oblongata was imprinted with images that it then stored to set templates for my perception of everyone else I met.
So…when I was 9 I had my first girlfriend. Lucy Davies. We had a no tongues kissing session down Fishponds Park in Spring 1980 and she later chucked me for both Paul Bridges AND Steve Eden at the same time.**
I was crestfallen.
As Steven was tougher than me and would threaten to “beat you up on the way home from school!” for even talking to Lucy after she broke my pre-pubescent ego (can’t say heart, as it was more my pride that was wounded) I regarded dating as a case of having some bastard come along and take away what made you happy, i.e. a girlfriend.
This happened once more 10 years later with a rather horrid creature named Kay Pemberton at Mid Warwickshire college. She dumped me for an acne ridden 16 year old named Elvis. I vowed that if he so much as spoke to me I’d kick his head in. He didn’t and I simply festered on my wounded pride. This second time also flipped a switch in my head marked “DON’T TRUST!”
I was punched a lot at Secondary school. Going to the teachers and/ or the Headmaster about it achieved nothing as they would ALWAYS find ways to blame both parties in a fight. One time a lad pushed me off my bicycle onto someone’s driveway and proceeded to punch my face repeatedly. We saw the Head the next day with my face covered in bruises and one eye blackened. While the other lad admitted to pushing me off my bike (an action the Head remarked to him was “a rather damning accusation for Manley to make”) the little cunt simply said “Lance was taking the Michael slightly during PE” and the Head defaulted to 6 of 1 and nothing was done.
Problem was that due to this and about two dozen other incidents at the festering shit hole that was Kenilworth School, 1983 to 1987, I regarded all people that made fun of me, took the piss or looked aggressive as the monstrous clones and doppelgangers of those who’d made my life a misery.
Truth is, many of the “bullies” at Secondary school were just people bantering and the bullying was something I assumed they were doing. As stated, I was told to NEVER answer back or stand up for myself AND that I almost certainly deserved it anyway. This, along with the school’s lazy attitude that two people fighting meant two people to blame, meant I was forever flinching as I walked around each day.
The lad who pushed me off my bicycle later on started a fight with me in class that wrecked half the room. I knew it would happen. I knew we’d both be suspended if caught. But the ONLY thing I had left was my courage and I walked into that room and sat down knowing that any second he’d hit me and he did. Thankfully there was no teacher present but had one walked in they would have seen it as me being equally at fault.
Asking a pretty girl out on a date was another one. In this blog entry I tried to show how one person being nice would feel to my dark, alternate, mirror universe self as he murdered all his classmates bar the sweet Rachel. Thing is the person this is based on wasn’t remotely that nice BUT was nicer than the other cunts at the school. Thing is I took their indifference and remarks as actual hatred when at the end of the day it was simply teenagers doing what teenagers do.
I asked the eponymous Rachel (that’s her real name) out once. It was the last time I ever asked a girl out at that school as a LOT of people took the piss out of me for it and her and her friends used to see me walk in a room, look at each other and then crack up laughing.
Ahh, but it wasn’t just Rachel who did this. Another girl I used to fancy (and briefly “dated” in the innocent days of Primary school) once cracked up with a big group of friends as we sat in different groups in the Hall one wet lunchtime. They kept saying my name as they laughed. During History later that afternoon I asked her what they were laughing at and she angrily snapped “We can laugh if we want to! There’s no law against it!”
Wished I’d blinded the cunt with my compass.
But I digress…
Even writing these incidents down now, invokes the feelings that they inspired at the time. Rage, impotence and helplessness.
Problem was that MOST girls didn’t dislike me. But I took this piss taking as a general vibe that permeated through all levels of my Year and probably the whole school.
I saw every face that made fun of me as a powerful bully, ready to hurt me and laugh at my misery.
Back then adults were beyond reproach. I was once assaulted by some old bastard who caught me riding my bike down the alleyway (next to my fucking house!). He bruised my arm by pulling me and pushed my head back against the brick wall behind me, hurting my neck. Running in almost in tears and hyperventilating it wasn’t taken seriously by my parents who heard my words “I’ve just been assaulted!” as “I’m overreacting to being told off by a grown up”.
Also teachers weren’t to be argued with, however politely you put your case (I was described on more than one occasion as “self opinionated” merely for verbalising disagreement). My mother was friends with one loathsome, fat piece of shit named Gloria who to this day I have issues with and would probably freak out if I was ever put in a room with her again. A nastier, more ignorant and vicious piece of filth it would be harder to imagine on Playground duty….BUT she was a teacher and beyond reproach.
So…the monsters I created in my head were based upon these few people. I saw similar patterns and ticks that these encounters had shown me, in other people I met, and assumed they would be the same.
Sarcastic or disdainful pretty women were clearly hateful towards me.
Big lads who were even remotely rude or aggressive were obviously thinking of beating me up or breaking something of mine.
And older people who talked down to me were no doubt relishing in their abuse of power.
Ironically the rare occasions I met genuine monsters, I handled it well. In 2006 I met an Irish builder named Geoff who I went drinking with on the weekends. He drank a lot and became aggressive (but never with me and usually not without reason) and I thought he was a mate. Then one night he drugged my beer and stole my wallet. My repeated polite requests for him to give it back (he’d taken it while giving me a supportive hug after I was copiously vomiting up whatever he spiked my drink with) led to him feigning offence and threatening to beat me up. I got thrown out the pub but the landlord believed my story (quote “no one goes from being on the floor to lucid in 30 minutes like you have unless it’s drugs!”) and later that night I phoned Geoff to meet to discuss what had happened. As I walked into the burger bar he just glared at me, before reaching for his phone and saying “I can’t get rid of you, right I’m calling the police!” Just then, by pure coincidence, 6 cops walked in and asked him to leave as he’d been mouthing off just before I arrived and the owner had got scared and called the Old Bill. It looked like I’d gone in to give him one last chance before they got involved, but it was just beautiful timing. I told them he nicked my wallet and they searched him and found cocaine on him.
He got nicked and I never saw the cunt again.
A true monster*** who I dealt with objectively and who got arrested.
I’ve figured out that the reason I don’t like attending the Combat class (punching and kicking for real) at Krav Maga on Thursday evening is because I superimpose the images of the monsters onto the guys I’m fighting with…without even meaning to.
Last week I went back to Kenilworth school to talk to the kids there about my time in the place, the bullying I endured and my anti-bullying themed kids' novel THE CATASTROPHE OF THE EMERALD QUEEN. A lot of chat appeared on Facebook from people I went to school with and one lad called Glen, who I never liked at school as I thought he had a problem with me and believed he was a bully, apologised three separate times when I reminded him of the VERY minor incident that had led to me making him into one of my monsters (ownership rights of the steering wheel on a fairground bumper car). It was that conversation that made me realise that I have built monsters for far too long.
I leave you with this.
Courage is not the absence of fear, it’s doing what it takes despite the fear.
Problem is…I made my own fear and sold it in bottles.
** Not sure if she retained this habit into puberty as she left the school a few months later.
*** Albeit a poxy thief as he couldn't steal from someone who was drunk, drugged up and trusted him.