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Tuesday, 6 July 2010

AGES 13 – 16. Survival.










Q: SATS: How important are they?

A: While you’re in school – for me, it was basically to determine if you were put into the classes with the smart kids or the dumb kids. Just to kind of assess where you are and what level you’re working at. I remember my SAT score was 666… dunno what the hell I got that in – I just remember the number. English Maths and Science maybe? If I don’t even remember what they were, that’s a good sign they’re not overly important. It’s not really something anyone is ever going to ask you about.

Q: GCSEs: How important are they?

A: Honestly, not horrendously, but at the same time, pretty important. English, maths and science are the ones you need to do well in because they’re the basics and if you want to teach you need to pass all these otherwise you’re gonna have to go back and do them again. When applying to university – you apply before you get your A-level results, so universities kind of look at those and your predicted grades so they can see what you have under your belt already and your potential as a student for them. On your CV, people look first at your university degree, if you have one, and your A-levels. Those are the main 2. If you’re working somewhere, for example, in an international school, it helps if you can speak more than one language, and here your GCSE German/French is useful to say ‘yep. done it.’ Aside from that… because you’re 16 when you’re legally allowed to leave school and go to work – if that is your intention, you’re gonna need the best grades you can get, basically. Because if people who have spent years in higher education getting a-levels, bachelors and masters degrees are really struggling to get jobs with their lovely long list of academic qualifications, then good luck if you’ve left with only a handful of C/D grade GCSEs.


It is pointless saying to a teen ‘don’t do this’, because… let’s put it this way – I’m not sure if there is such a thing as a non-rebellious teen. You’re gonna press every button you can and see what you can get away with. I did it, and even though your parents will deny it, that they did too. But here are some  things to bear in mind:


It’s normal for friendships to blow hot and cold. It doesn’t make it any more fun or any easier, but just know this is kind of normal. Especially in all girls schools, there is a LOT of bitchiness and backstabbing and gossiping. I’m sure it’s not much better in mixed schools or all boys schools, but I suppose boys are more thuggish and less catty. Choose your friends wisely and don’t try to change yourself just to fit into a crowd. Be who you are and keep being who you are – that takes balls sometimes, but it’s worth it. Nobody likes a fake and the only person you’ll be fooling really is yourself.

If your ‘friends’ don’t respect you, your views, opinions and values and try to change you, or bully you into being someone you’re not or to do something you’re not comfortable with and don’t want to do – then those people are not your friends. If you don’t want to do something – don’t do it. The people around you should be mature enough to accept that not everyone is into the same things.



1. THE GOLDEN RULE : if someone comes up to you and offers you something and you don’t know what it is, just say no and walk away. ALWAYS let your parents know where you are. If you’re secretive about stuff they’re going to come down even harder on you because they’ll worry and they’ll be less likely to be ok with you going out again if you’ve kept them up all night worried sick. If they know where you are and what time you’re planning on coming home they’ll be much more relaxed, and if something happens to you, they know where they’ll have to pick you up from.

2. DRUGS Don’t do drugs, because drugs are bad. Drugs are also expensive, and teenagers are not rich. So chances are, if you’re 13 and get your hands on some drugs, if  you can afford to buy them with your pocket money, they’re going to be the lowest grade available – as in mixed in with a load of other crap so you don’t even know what’s in it. Which is not only dangerous, but stupid to risk your health/life just for a high. Someone I know did drugs when he was a teenager and he has ruined his life because they totally messed up his brain and now he’s schizophrenic, almost 30 and having to live at home with his parents because he can’t be trusted to live on his own and be able to look after himself. Do you REALLY want to end up like that? No? then don’t do drugs.

3. ALCOHOL. Everyone does it – it’s a learning curve – part of growing up. I had my first drink when I was 12 and the first time I got drunk I spent my 13th birthday in bed with a hangover. I am really REALLY lucky with my parents – they’ve, for some reason, always trusted me. My mother is very cautious but I think they were both smart enough to realise that if I wanted to do something, I’d do it anyway and if they told me not to do something it would make me want to do it even more.  So they basically let me do what I want (within reason) because if they let me do stuff and we were open about it, they wouldn’t worry, because they knew what I was up to, even if they didn’t agree with it – which is better than not knowing and assuming/fearing the worst. Since I was a tot, when they had a drink, they’d let me have a bit, so by the time I hit my teens I knew I hated whiskey and Vodka and wine, and the mystery of booze was kind of eliminated. Still went out and got ratted and woke up under radiators in people’s houses. I never got in trouble for getting drunk, because I got (and still get) the most horrendous hangovers so me spending the next 2 days unable to move without wanting to throw up was punishment enough.  Anyway. My alcoholic past out of the way – some basic things to remember.

1. Don’t drink cheap stuff because it tastes like arse and it’ll make you sick

2. DON’T MIX YOUR DRINKS – that is just stupid. Avoid snakebite black – your friends may all be drinking it now, but give them 2 hours and they’ll be the ones on their knees with their head down the toilet wanting you to call their mum and saying ‘sorry.. sorry.. sorry’ over and over again for an hour while you’re holding their hair out of their face, force-feeding them bread and water and feeling a little smug that it’s not you who everyone is going to be saying ‘haha can’t hold his drink – what a loser' about the next day. Also, if you’re aware of what you’re doing you’re less likely to do stupid things and get into fights and have rumours spread about you at school.

3. When you first start to feel sick, that is when you should STOP and swap booze for water and go and get something to eat. Preferably stodge like bread or chips. I say ‘stop’ the minute you start to feel sick, because that’s just the beginning of the wave that’s going to come crashing over you. If you keep drinking past that it’s just going to make you feel EVEN WORSE.

image4. Sounds gross, but it’s true: Better out than in. If you feel sick, don’t try and act cool and keep going – go to the loo and throw it up. You’ll feel much better for it and your hangover won’t hurt quite so much the next day because you haven’t kept it in your system. Drink WATER after that and eat something.


5. BE SAFE: Never accept a drink from someone you don’t know, never have a drink you haven’t poured yourself, never leave your drink unattended and if you have a bottle, keep your thumb over the top of it while you’re walking around. It is SO EASY for someone to spike your drink. It’s happened to at least 5 of my friends – even big tough guys – when they thought they were being careful, and at university – where we’re all older and wiser about keeping an eye on our drinks. Basically spiking: if you’ve had one drink and feel like SH*T – really dizzy, really sick, feel a bit like you’re going to die.. chances are your drink has been spiked. Tell a friend so they know to keep an eye on you, and call your parents and tell them to come and pick you up. If you’re at a party where someone is going to do that to you, you don’t want to be there, because once you pass out, you don’t know what else they may do, and it’s not worth it.


Hope some of that is useful to you


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