Shards of broken glass

Dedication: Any person being bullied

So, I start at my youth from a time I can go back to, I was around 12 years old this was way back in 1981 when times were different to now in 2022.

Times were hard living and growing up on a council estate in Netherton, Dudley, we were a poor family, dad worked hard as did mom, money was not one of the luxuries we were blessed with, but we made the best of things.

I recall in our home the cold metal windows and the frost on the inside of the glass, no central heating hot water cylinder inoperative and having to heat a bath full of water from my mother’s old twin tub washing machine and transferring this to the bath with a saucepan.

The house in Herford Road was as I say an old council house where maintenance was rare.

We learned to in a way live off the land, blackberries, strawberries and what we could lay our hands on, it’s funny looking back now I often think today’s youth don’t really know the meaning of being hungry.

This was the time in my life I recall my preparation of starting my new school and moving from my childhood to my teens, my new school Hilcrest School and Community College in Netherton, this was 1 mile from our house and took 25 minutes to wark each day and the same back, I recall the bus fare being 2p but I still walked to save my parents money, we were intitled to free school meals but not to embarrass me or my family I did not have them, my feelings back then tended to be go hungry it will prevent me being bullied for being from a poor family,

As my time passed at this school, I found the bullying strategy failed as I was to be subjected to this anyway,

This all started with my foolish times out of school, I would work when I got home doing whatever I could to earn money, this sometimes meant gardening and dirty work, I recall one day finishing school and starting the garden of a person who I think took pity on us, I worked from 3:30pm until 10pm I was covered in dirt, when I did get home I found the old twin tub washing machine had broken down and I was unable to have a bath, I settled for a wash, I returned to school the next morning and as we had to where a light blue shirt some of the dirt had gone from my neck to the shirt, My English teacher at the time noticed this and said Hawkins (the name I was delegated by my teachers), your neck is filthy, from this day on the bullying started, it all started from just one class but was soon to grow throughout the whole school, I found myself being bullied in each lesson, several times each day,

School was unbearable in every way, I would not only be verbally abused but physically beaten, the abuse did not stop at the so-called class mates, I found myself being abused by several teachers, My P E teacher Mr Cooper would not hesitate to inflict punishment with a plimsole and on occasion the football boot with studs. This was back in the day when corporal punishment was acceptable and the cane was the method.

I was constantly reminded from my teachers that I would amount to nothing and fail in my later life as an adult, this was the case in most of my lessons this encouraged me to fail at school bunking off whenever I was able to.
The insults from school kids my age was bad enough but from my teachers just hurt more.

As time went by, I found myself trying to gain friends in my year but failing, I recall one day bunking off a lesson and meeting up in an alley way just a short distance from the school, there were a group of lads there, trying to fit in with them but failing, I stepped back in the alley way and a huge shard of broken glass, in a half round bottle shape shot through my ankle, the pain was unbelievable and my right foot went numb, on looking down the blood was pumping from my foot.

The group of school kids ran away leaving me there on my own, luckily for me one lad before running away knocked the door of a property.

It would have been around 2 minutes before the home owner came out however it felt like hours, by this time I was lying on the floor trying to steam the blood, the person came over with a large towel and placed it around my foot, within a short time the towel was dripping with blood,

He decided to run inside and call an ambulance, (There were no mobile phones back then)

In time the emergency services arrived, I recall seeing a nurse and that was it, I slipped in to unconsciousness.

I woke up at the hospital (Dudley Guest then) to see my foot elevated and the inside of my foot hanging out with clamps on my artery then I was out again.
So apparently, I went through surgery to repair my artery, veins, nerves and my tendon I had completely severed, I would spend the next year and a half in plaster with the entry wound open from the cast to be treated by the district nurse each week.

In a way this got me off school and respite from all the bullying and teachers remarks.

I returned to school after 2 years but was now with a walking stick, I was allowed to leave classes early to avoid being knocked over leaving lessons, I would like to say the bullying stopped but unfortunately it did not however it did calm down a little.

I left Hilcrest with no qualifications, no degrees, nothing at all as my teachers expected me to, I look back now and wonder why I could have been treated to such bullying from school kids and my teachers.

My outcome in life,

I am now 53 years old

Well through hard work, persistence and a will to progress with no qualifications.

I own my riverside cottage, land where I intend to build a small housing development, my own successful business here in England and a business in Turkey.

I would hope things have changed in schools to the point where pupils and teachers have learned by mistakes and give all people the understanding they deserve and do not judge them by the wealth they have at the time.

P Hawkins.

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Paul Hawkins