Tuesday, March 10, 2009

20 years ago

Listening to: A mix comp still on the hard drive. Currently playing 'Progress' by Midnight Oil.

I'm also listening to Charlotte coughing and spluttering as she deals with her first cold. Given that her lungs put together equate to less than half of one of mine, this is no easy thing. She only has little lungs.

I realised a little while ago that it is now twenty years since I started secondary school (high school for you foreign readers). The eighties seem a long long way away now.

The summer of 1988-89 is one I remember as lots of sunny days, which sounds silly but I don't remember the rainy ones. For Christmas I had received my first proper point and shoot autofocus camera (which I still have, and is still functional), in preparation for my first overseas trip at the end of 1989. I would see in the new decade at a house party in Sunderland in the northeast of England. A lot of time was spent at the beach or at the river, or just messing around as you do when you are in your teens. It was the last summer we had the use of the bach at Raumati South which we had frequented for the last five years. I hated to leave it behind, since the place and location were awesome. We would go up there for a week at a time during the holidays and basically do nothing but swim and play boardgames, occasionally going up to Coastlands or Waikanae. The last day I was there there was a high overcast with no wind and no swell. It was grey and still and matched my mood perfectly.

I had a paper run delivering the Evening Post six nights a week, which earned me about $30 per month in pocket money, which was reasonable money for a tween at the time.

Fluoro was definitely king, with pastel a close queen. David Lange was still Prime Minister. Walkmans were still a relative novelty, as were pushbutton phones. Cellphones were the preserve of the wealthy only. Def Leppard had released 'Hysteria' a year earlier, GnR's 'Sweet Child of Mine' was similarly only a year old, and together they were the summer soundtrack. The last dance at the intermediate Form Two disco was the number one cover of 'Sweet Lovers' by local band The Holidaymakers. On the night after the last day of intermediate there was a Blue Light Disco (dances for underage kids organised and promoted by the police) at the town hall, which I remember taking a break from to watch a bushfire on the hills near where I lived. Bushfires on the eastern hills used to be a regular occurrence, and this one in particular was comparatively large. You can still see where the burn was today. The Blue Light is a fun memory now, lots of early teen boys and girls thrown together with not real idea of what to do with each other. I was looking forward to seeing the first decade change I would remember, and being able to say I was in the last class of the 80's at my new school.

Its probably got a lot to do with changing schools, but 1989 doesn't feel like part of the 1980's at all.

I was in the top part of the school academically at my intermediate, to the point where myself and a few others can been considered worthy enough to try out for a scholarship exam at college. I remember the exam, but not exactly when it was, but late 1988 sometime.

After attending St Bernards intermediate, my preference was to move on to the college located across the playing field, most of my friends were going there, and I liked being a ten minute walk from school. Having been reserved a place at St Patricks Silverstream at the age of four however, remaining local was never an option.

I think the first day was late January of 1989. My parents have a picture of me at the front gate setting off for the train station, on a sunny summer morning. Being all of 12, and not turning 13 until the latter part of the year, I was the youngest of the 600 odd roll by a long way. I don't remember the first day. Catching the train would have been no big deal, since I had been doing that to get to primary school anyway, and was a seasoned train traveller. I remember hot summer afternoons in a new (and surprisingly comfortable) uniform, being indoctrinated into the lore and ways of a new school (like learning the haka and school song), and the vastness of the playing fields in the sunlight.

I soon found a like minded niche, collectively known as the 'Nerd Herd', and got settled, as much as you ever get settled at high school. Mixing with boarders from other parts of the country was a novel experience. Third form camp was fun, marred only by one guy breaking his pelvis falling from a positively dangerous variation on a flying fox mechanism. I encountered for-real exams at the end of the year, accompanied by my first experience of stress induced indigestion. I played soccer in the winter, and enjoyed that too, despite being forced to play for my school instead of the club I had previously played for. I met friends who I still make time for today.

I also tried to get my head around the fact that I would spend the next five years of my life at this institution. Back then it seemed like forever.

1 comment:

Kiwi in Zurich said...

Thanks for the memories! There are many in there that I share as well. I actually recall taking the train on the first day, which for me was new and novel. I'm pleased that you ended up going to St Pats with the rest of us :)