The days of Snookington School were finished for these boys. During the summer break, Gronk was in a quandary. Fathead and his band of Posheys had kept their distance, which annoyed him. But Groate had become a close acquaintance, although he too was not actually accepted as a Poshey. Gronk’s dilemma centred on his image. Until now, his days were spent cloaked in his cherished Snookington School uniform. The blue blazer adorned with a red badge of Bosworth spoke volumes about his existence. He had been in the best school and proud of his house. It meant he was on the cusp of becoming a Poshey, despite his modest background. Without that beloved blazer, he would be lost. A new stand-out style was needed and he had an idea what it should be.

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Gronk strolled confidently toward his unsuspecting enemy. Aggravation and confrontation was the order of the day. It was time they were at each other’s throats. Gronk was a fervent believer in his inexorable rise. Cocksure would win the day. And he would do anything to get there. Lie. Cheat. Brown-nosing. Absolutely anything. Looking over his shoulder, he saw Fathead and the others casting a quizzical glance. Even the weaselly Groate looked on. It was working. Gronk stopped short of Steve.

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Toward the end of the final school year, Steve was studying hard. With books borrowed from the local library, he was glued to a makeshift table in his bedroom and memorised notes until late in the evenings for months on end. Pupils from Goodson were not given homework, so Steve studied in secret. The teachers had no idea of the ground he was making up. Steve sat the end of year exams and felt he had done well. The school had a tradition of collating the exam results and placing the pupils in order of merit. And the day came when the marks were due to be read out in assembly.

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The very next day, a faction from Dundiston School entered Snookington’s grounds to complain about the previous day. Four Dundiston lads met the headmaster just outside the main school building and remonstrated about Snookington starting the fight by shouting abuse. Two Snookington pupils looked at each other and grinned. They whispered, ducked down and shouted “Abuse!!!” The Snookington boys threw books and pens at the Dundiston contingent as they ran to the school gates and away.

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As the whistle peeped, Bosworth kicked off. Snow began to fall and it was far too cold for skilful play, but the two sides pushed for victory. As the game went on, boys from Dundiston School turned up. Only ten or twenty at first, but soon over a hundred stood with hands in pockets, glaring. They were not there to watch the football match. The Dundiston boys wore dirty clothes and many were skinheads. Angry shouts rang out. The three teachers huddled up in discussion, looking furtively about.

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Inter-House Football

A distraction to this age-old bad feeling was the rising tension between the schools of Snookington and Dundiston. Sporadic skirmishes broke out between the two schools. The boys of Bosworth House felt a particular outrage at the Outsiders from Dundiston. Most of the lads from Goodson had an affinity with Dundiston boys, given they were all Outsiders, but inter-school distrust manifested into the two factions of Outsiders being adversaries. Divide and rule was the order of the day.

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The leader of this group of Posheys was a stocky boy called Gerard DeVilliers. He liked to be the centre of attention and thought Outsiders were an affront to humanity. He loved his nickname of Fathead as it seemed to encapsulate his smart brutishness. In his crew were Harvey and Hugo who were best friends and, even for Posheys, had a reputation for pomposity. They were proud to be associated with Fathead. Completing this band of top snobbers were Snoops, who liked to talk about himself, and Snipes, who considered himself a magnificent young man. And they all despised Gronk. That said, Gronk was a Bosworth boy, so they listened to him sometimes, even if it was with knowing smirks.

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If anything, school was an escape from the stresses of Steve’s home life. Being a Goodson Outsider, he was in the lowest sets for all subjects and the teachers treated his lessons as free time. As the children messed about, Steve sat at the back of class and chatted with friends in between bouts of boredom. But increasingly he picked up a book and read. Self-teaching was the only way someone like Steve would get an education.

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Steve’s life at the house was far from harmonious. There was probably fault on both sides, but the damage had been done early on. Arguments kicked off over something and nothing. Their fraught relationship may have stemmed from his parents being unhappy he spent so much time away from home, whilst Steve felt picked on whenever he was at home. It was a no win situation. Being in the firing line, he was always on edge in the house. The relationship was fractured and time did not heal. His father often yelled “You’re not good enough” while Steve bit back and shouted “You don’t know me.”

Continue reading “Hiking”