I regularly spend time at Piccadilly Station and on those days when I know I’ll be sat there for quite a long time, my mind tends to wander. I started this post during a cold, boring 40 minute stint on a Saturday evening.
If I ever do anything so amazing that people hand me an award and I have to do an acceptance speech, there are lots of people I would thank. Those are the people who helped me reach that place in my life. If I get the full 10 min oscar speech length I will be including an assortment of people including some of my teachers.
As a kid I was never a teachers pet but I definitely had some favourite teachers. At primary school Mrs Evans was hands down my favourite teacher, she just kind of got me and she read our class The Twits by Roald Dahl. The impact on a 7 year old of a book where grown ups fed each other worms and played tricks with a glass eye was huge. I had been reading lots of fairy stories and Enid Blyton until that point so this was a pretty big deal.
At high school I would have said that my favourite teacher was Mrs Blackwell but as I’ve got older I wonder about lots of my high school teachers, but more than most, I wonder about Ms Balfe.
Ms Balfe was only my form teacher for a relatively short time but she introduced me to the concept of feminism. I didn’t really get it at the time, but some of the things I say to my daughters come from her. Explaining to 15 year old working class kids why she was a Ms and not a Mrs shouldn’t really have been a complicated task but it was. If you were female and got married, you changed your surname and despite her clearly explaining it several times in plain English we still didn’t really get it.
Despite being pre-Spice Girls we fully understood that women were in no way inferior to men but it never occured to any of us that things like that mattered. I didn’t even know it was a “thing” We just thought it was weird. The public announcement of your marital status every time you use your debit card didn’t seem weird, but Ms Balfe keeping her own name and using an unexpected pronoun did. Ms Balfe made me question some of those things, not at the time, but her influence stayed with me.
I wasn’t particularly academic at school. Most of my school reports featured phrases about how much better I’d do if I talked less. I was good at P.E. My best subjects were running fast and jumping over things. I was merely OK at everything else, although allegedly I’d have been better if it wasn’t for the endless talking!
If I do find myself at an awards ceremony there is also a list of people that I should probably just not mention. Those are the people in your life who were there whilst you achieved greatness despite their nonsense. It is not that these people don’t appreciate you, they just don’t share your vision of a better you.
They are the ones who didn’t expect you to do well and just humoured you whilst you did. The ones who were never surprised when you had set backs and tried to make you feel like an idiot for caring. They are the people in your life that don’t understand why you work late, volunteer to help with social causes or spend several hours in the library on a Saturday, working on an assignment because universities don’t just give out Master’s degrees.
Supposedly the problem is them and not you, but its hard not to have a problem with people who ought to know better than trying to bring you down instead of encouraging you to aim higher.
Maybe that’s one of the key things about the people I’ll be thanking in my imaginary awards speech. They understood me and knew that whatever I was doing that I always was, and will always be, capable of more.