Today’s literary effort sees the third in a trilogy of tongue in cheek narratives surrounding my attendance at Heathfield Senior High School on Low Fell, Gateshead. Sadly for the reader, my trinity of completed works isn’t as entertaining as, say, the original Star Wars or Back to The Future trilogies. In my defence, though, I’m not party to the huge multi million dollar budgets enjoyed by their production teams.

My budget only stretching to a laptop with latency issues and my trusty writing companion – A bag of Haribos. There isn’t the luxury of DeLorean car time travel or intergalactic shenanigans for yours truly, That being said, my inherently hirsute body does give me a look of Chewbacca.

Anyhow, regardless of ingrained bitterness viz a viz an underfunding of my art, I’ll plough on with this literary odyssey. Hoping one day I’ll achieve my dream of reading the following in the local paper’s Job Vacancies column ‘Wanted – Hairy Writer. Writing experience and quality unimportant; Resemblance to a Wookie essential. Remuneration package includes:- Competitive salary, BUPA health care and Haribo allowance. – Apply within’.

Incidentally, I’m not naïve enough to realise the above aspirations are nothing more than a pipe dream. However, without dreams we are nothing….. Well, if the Llanelli Without Dreams We Are Nothing Society are to believed we are anyhow!

When attending Heathfield in the late 1970’s I was immature and riddled with adolescent angst, leading to a complete lack of interest in most things. Despite this, though, having the wherewithal to secure three decent jobs, travel around the UK for work, and never knowingly insulting a parakeet, was undoubtedly manifested from the life and educational lessons acquired at Durham Road’s premier alma mater.

Around that time my mum, concerned at my low mood and fact I’d developed a lisp if she made corned beef hash for tea, suggested I seek medical help. Knowing mater was a font of all knowledge, I followed this sage-like proffering…… I started having my tea at our GP Dr Cameron’s house.

In many ways it was a tough time for GJ Strachan, but not from a schooling perspective. Moreover I was intolerably hormonal, which bred an unhealthy ambivalence to most things, including not confronting important decisions like my prospective career path, along with if I should lend brother Ian*** my Bullworker.

*** – When I refer to being conflicted at lending brother Ian my Bullworker I’m referring to allowing my sibling to utilise my exercise equipment. Not that I was torn about lending a monk the device bought to build muscle on my skinny upper torso.

On the occasion I’d an interview with a careers advisor I left the meeting suitably underwhelmed. At sixteen I was clueless as to what I saw as my destiny in the employment field; something that remained with me until my late forty’s.

It was at the age of forty nine when finally realising my destiny lay in the field of creativity. A bit late, but I suppose “Better late than never!” as the Llanelli Better Late Than Never Society advocate.

If memory serves me correctly, my careers interview took place in the school gym. A strange choice of location, particularly as Mr Brabban’s PE class hadn’t been cancelled to cater for the meeting. Consequently, my chat about workplace aspirations took place with a game of basketball taking place around us.

I’ve no idea if you’ve ever attended an important meeting with a basketball game taking place around you, but take it from me it’s worth avoiding….. Especially if your meeting table is below one of the hoops!

Apart from shouting “Duck!!”, the careers advisor’s opening gambit was to ask if I wanted to work within a manual labour role, such as an apprenticeship. After I’d unenthusiastically responded “No, not really!” he proceeded to tell me “Well it’ll be worth pursuing a career in clerical work then.” This pearl of wisdom arriving seconds  prior to a basketball bouncing off the meeting table parting us.

To add to the surreal nature of the experience I’ve vague recollections of the careers advisor having a facial tic. Consequently, when he spoke his right eye pupil spun around in an anti-clockwise direction, while his left eye pupil rotated clockwise. It was deeply distracting, but I left the gym ‘motivated’ to find an office job…… Preferably one which banned the playing of basketball between the hours of 8.30am – 5.00pm.

On return to my form classroom I sat down at my desk, shrugged apathetically when asked by a classmate “How’d it go then!”. Prior to form tutor Mr Waugh enquiring “Are you ok Strachan?….. You look like you’ve got the imprint of a basketball on your head!”


Disclaimer:- Some of the details above have been enhanced fictionally to aid the narratives flow, along with to misleadingly imply the author had a rebellious streak. 


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