Metro column 21

My dad was the headmaster of the secondary school that I attended and I am beginning to wonder if this had any affect on my emotional and development.
Psychiatrists are constantly going on about how behaviour as an adult is down to childhood trauma.

Can I blame the fact I’ve turned into a sex-obsessed, knob gag-spouting dickhead on this ridiculous situation?

I certainly spent my formative years surrounded by suspicion. If I was good at school, my classmates would say: ‘He’s only being good cos his dad’s the headmaster. He knows he can get away with it.’

If I was naughty at school, they’d say: ‘He’s only acting up cos his dad’s the headmaster. He knows he can get away with it.’

If I did well at exams they’d say: ‘Well of course he did well, his dad gave him all the answers.’

If I did badly at exams they’d say: ‘How thick is that kid? He had all the answers and he still couldn’t pass.’

Given the situation I was in, my parents could’ve made it easier for me. But they didn’t.

They made me go to school in the exact correct school uniform. I couldn’t wear trainers like the other kids but had sensible and clunky Clarks shoes.

I carried my books to school in a briefcase, rather than a trendy Adidas sports bag. I was in the brass band, so most days I was also carrying a massive euphonium in with me.

It was like I was a Buckaroo of bullying – how many things can we put on this kid before someone beats the crap out of him? How can he still be standing?

Recently, I revisited my school and, back in the hall, I remembered all of the humiliations that had happened there 25 years before: the school discos, where I’d made red-faced stuttering attempts to engage with girls who just laughed and dismissed me; the games lessons where the teacher had mocked my malcoordination; the school lunchtimes, when every single day people would throw sausages on forks at my head and I’d get my lunch money stolen by Gripper Stebson… hold on, that last one might have been Grange Hill.

However, the ultimate embarrassment in this room was the vote for the non-sporting house captain.

I was up against Steve Cheeke, the rebellious and popular head boy.

We were sent out of the hall so the contest could be fair but I could still hear what was going on through the door.

The teacher said: ‘Who wants to vote for Steve Cheeke?’

I hadn’t realised this before but if 300 arms are raised simultaneously, with enough vehemence, it actually makes a sound – this ‘whoomph’, came reverberating through the partition.

Then the teacher asked: ‘Who wants to vote for Richard Herring?’

I hadn’t realised this but if three arms are raised, non-simultaneously, slightly reluctantly, that also makes a sound.

It is the sound of 300 other schoolchildren openly laughing. I returned to the school hall prickling with mortification. All because my dad was the headmaster. It ruined my life. QED.

Except the problem is, whenever I meet anyone from my school, the first thing they always say is: ‘How’s your dad?’ They all loved him. So what if my unpopularity at school wasn’t anything to do with him?

The thing that psychiatrists never tell you, because it’s not in their interests, is maybe you grew up to be a dickhead because you’re a dickhead.

It’s not as convenient as blaming everyone else but it might be nearer to the truth.

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