We moved a lot when I was a kid so I went to four primary, two intermediates and four colleges. I left school at sixteen with no qualifications. I had had enough.
It wasn’t that I didn’t like school. I love learning, I still do but I was always the odd one out, the new kid, and I never seemed to fit in. I am really envious of people who have school friends, people they have known for years. I never had that luxury; in fact I really don’t remember anyone from school except the bullies. They are ingrained in my soul.
My favourite school was Boddytown on the West Coast. I won a bet once, because someone didn’t believe me when I said I used to live there. No one they said would call a town after a body. But they did. Actually it was a Mr Boddy By one of those amazing coincidences, I met his granddaughter in Rotorua in my early forties. She was the only person apart from Coasters who had ever heard of the place.
There were 23 houses in Boddytown and two farms. One of the farm houses sold lollies the nearest thing to a shop. It was in a deep valley surrounded by bush. The one road came from Greymouth and went further in to the sticks.
Boddytown School had one classroom. It was the only time I was top of my class. I was also bottom of my class. I was the only one in it. There were 22 pupils at the school from new entrants to standard six and I was in standard 5.
The teacher Mr Hopkins was firm but fair. In the winter the fire was roaring by the time we got there. In summer we swam in the pool. I did quite a bit of self-directed learning, including spelling and I tried cheating but Mr Hopkins had seen that before. He soon got me back on track.
I played my first and last game of rugby there. I got caught up in the scrum and got kicked a lot; decided that it wasn’t my thing.
Looking back it was quite idyllic. It was a ten minute walk to school. I learnt a lot that year. And I didn’t feel as invisible as I did at the other schools I attended.
Unfortunately it only lasted a year. That summer we moved to Tauranga.
I met someone from the coast a few years back and she told me the school had been closed down. I felt sad. It was a great learning environment.