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Friday, 27 May 2011

I have little sympathy with kids complaining of being bullied.


What is wrong with today's children? I was bullied at school. I never told my parents, I just got on with life and gave as good as I got!
I was an English descent boy (Scottish descent actually, but they don't differentiate) brought up amongst Afrikaners in Stellenbosch, the heart of Cape Afrikanerdom. I went to an Afrikaans boarding school in Wellington from the age of seven!
For those who don’t know, Afrikaners really hate the English descent people. They call them Souties (it means "salties" as they have one foot in South Africa, and one in England, with their genitals dangling in the sea). The average size of the other boys in my class was nearly twice my height and weight. (I was a small skinny lad). And I wouldn’t pass their test which was to say that Afrikaners were superior to Souties.
Throughout the first year I had an average of three fights a day. Never less than three large Afrikaner boys attacked me at any one time. But after a year they had come to accept me and life became easier. In fact when I was in sickbay with Yellow Jaundice at the end of the year just about every boy came to see me, and I was told that the headmaster remarked (in disbelief) on this at assembly. Yes, he hated me as well. But I never complained.
Funnily enough, I look on those days with pride. I never gave in and admitted that they were better than me. And the funny thing was, even they grew tired of the 24 hour hate campaign so, after three months it was an understood thing that they only attacked me in school time. Believe it or not, we played together after school, and fought the next morning. Utterly unbelievable!
When I look back on all that bullying, I have realised that it was part of growing up, and it toughened me up and has pretty much removed any fear I might have had in life as a grown-up. When I finally told my mother (she was worried I might have had a tough time, when I joined the army) about it, she was amazed and a little hurt and angry that I hadn't told her at the time. But I thought it was my problem, so therefore it was me who should sort it out.
Even now, at 71, I won't bow down. There were eight black youths larking about in Finchley a few weeks ago, and everyone was crossing the road to avoid them. I would never do that and walked right through them so they had to get out of the way, and threw a couple of jokes at them to disarm them. We all had a laugh and I went on my way. If I were knifed, so? I've had a pretty good life, and being in constant fear isn't the way I want to end it.

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