Back to School
by Alexander Caldwell-Kelly
I have kind of a storied history with education. I went to an expensive, if second-flight, public school (public as in private, Americans) in south London, only to drop out at seventeen. I’ve always been highly-strung and weird. Highly-strung and weird and gay was not really a combination suited to that environment. Add in the pressure of A-levels, and it’s not wholly surprising. I had something like a nervous breakdown, spent what felt like six months in bed crying, and that was it.
I’ve spent basically the last five years trying to get back into education. Problem is, mental illness keeps getting in the way. My last attempt, at Croydon College, went pretty much the same. Stayed six months, and then essentially collapsed right before exams started. But, I’m either persistent or stupid, because I’m trying it again. This time at Langside College in Glasgow. Now, granted, I can cope with stuff a lot better now, and I actually have a support network in husband-shaped form. But I guess it also brings to mind an old idea; the definition of madness is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
In any case, if it works out I’ll be there for a year, doing Highers. Essentially the first year of an A-level, but more Scottish. With those, maybe I can get to where I want to be. I need five of them in total, so I have English, History, Psychology, Sociology and French. The last is an evening class, which means one day a week I’ll be there from half nine in the morning until late evening. I’ve also forgotten all the French I ever learned, so there’s every possibility I’m just going to snap like Batman’s spine. But I feel I should at least be realistic about that this time.
I’m going in for orientation on Monday, and I can’t decide if I’m terrified or not. I mean, it beats being shut up in a tiny flat writing for years and years, which has been largely my existence for the past few years. On the other hand, I realise that I’m freaking out about the prospect of what’s essentially a community college. That baffles me until I remember that I tend to freak out about… well, everything.
We’ll see. I mean, in some respects, I’m genuinely excited. I’m not trying to be contemptuous, it’s just hard to resist the opportunity to make myself feel bad. Certainly it seems a lot less threatening that Croydon. They’ve clearly been pouring money into the campus, and seen on a rare-for-Glasgow summer’s day, it’s actually pretty. Definitely an improvement on the looming Stalinist concrete thing. As for the people, well, I don’t know yet. I’ll get out there, try not to be a dick, and see what happens. Just allow me this one moment of snobbery.