by Rachel Cerys
I didn’t ‘go back’ in September.
It wasn’t a big deal though. Andrew and Ruth hadn’t gone, so no-one bothered about me. Lucky really. No fuss. They just let me carry on playing with my LEGO.
My friends went to school. I wanted to go too – they had playtime in school! Sam soon put me straight: ‘Don’t be stupid, Jim – you play ALL the time!’ ‘Spose he had a point.
I always felt left behind though, never old enough to join in with anything. But I got to see lots of Grandpa. He loved woodwork and showed me how to do everything the ‘proper’ way. To be honest, I’d rather have got on with it on my own, but Mum thought it was good for me to learn a bit of discipline. She might have had a point. Might.
They say I didn’t talk ‘til I was four – probably didn’t need to coz Andrew talked enough for all of us – but when I did, I surprised them by coming out with a great long sentence. No-one can remember what it was. Typical.
Took me a while to get the hang of words. I’d try out new ones by throwing them into the middle of a conversation and seeing what happened. Sometimes everyone laughed. Other times I’d get into trouble.
I didn’t enjoy learning to read. Couldn’t see the point. It was always better when Mum read aloud.
Mum thought I needed to write more. I played the ‘writing game’ – how long can it take you to write 500 words? Mum said it was like getting blood out of a stone. I said, ‘Can you get blood out of a stone?’ and everyone laughed.
When it was time for exams we still didn’t ‘go back’. I don’t know why you can’t just learn for the sake of it, coz it’s interesting. Mum said exams can be useful when you’re older. Reckon she was worried there’d been too much playing with LEGO.
The exams turned out to be fun in a way – we got to see our friends and it was like a big party. I did my best with the questions, then looked out of the window at the swirly patterns of the clouds, free and full of life. We stayed in a Travelodge and Mum said we could buy what we wanted from the M&S food place. Prawn layered salad and lemon drizzle cake for me – almost worth all the studying!
Next, I did an intensive Welsh course, which was a near-school experience: I had to go on the bus and get there on time. It was fun listening to the English trying to pronounce the tricky words. Easier for me, coz I was born here. The women all loved me. Nah, it wasn’t like school. Not like ‘going back’.
Andrew and Ruth went off to Uni, but I’d had enough of that sort of learning and took up drawing and painting. Night and day. The best way.
I like to teach myself. Always have, always will.
But sometimes you need other people. And that was how it happened…
August 2013. It was the cashier in Tesco who asked, ‘You’ll be going back soon, then?’ And that time I was, for the second year of my Fine Art degree.
For sixteen years I hadn’t gone back, and then for two years I did.
Worked out okay. Better than okay. First Class Honours.
And to tell you the truth, I think LEGO was the making of me.
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