Bullying of any kind is abhorrent to me. Having been bullied whilst at school, I understand the feelings of the victims.
There was a little bit of antagonism directed at me when I was a Mixed Infant, and certainly I was bullied as I became a Junior. That bullying seems to have been because – way back then – I was a sort of quiet lad, perhaps a bit of a loner.
I have to say that the Headmistress there was a bullying type. Perhaps the “bullying culture” was due to her attitude.
And it didn’t just happen at my first school, either: there were a couple of bullies in our street who liked to show how tough they were by picking on me, for I never retaliated.
Wolverhampton Grammar School when I went there had a culture of bullying based on the English middle- and upper-class attitude to life: “I’m better than you” and all that.
And there, I was physically assaulted, sometimes by lads who no-one would think were the bullying kind.
I left school at about the age of sixteen, and went into office-work in industry. Whilst working at Stafford Road Locomotive Repair Works, one of the shop-floor workers invited me to join his weightlifting/body-building club. I did so, though I can’t remember why. This was when I was seventeen.
Soon, my physique improved (not that I looked sloppy beforehand). The walking of four miles to the club at the Bushbury Arms and back twice a week and the weight-training gave me confidence in myself, though I didn’t realise it at the time. Indeed, walking home one dark evening, I helped a young lady in distress by standing up to the man who was knocking her about. He did not follow her home after that.
Then, suddenly it seemed, I got my National Service calling-up papers and, as I say so often, I grew up on 2nd April, 1959, when I got onto the train in Wolverhampton to start my trip down to the Aldershot area to start my training.
One might think there was a bullying-system in the Army, with anyone further up the promotion ladder than you could order you about and make you do whatever he said.
Like many – perhaps most – soldiers, I recognised that it was all a game we played. And most of us enjoyed it.
I did most of my two years on Active Service, and came home a grown-man. All the lads I knew before I was called-up seemed to have disappeared.
But one thing I’ve always wanted to do since my demob is to encounter the ones who’d bullied me as I grew up and explain to them the error of their ways.
They seem to have left no trace behind them, though.
Yes – I am opposed to bullying. And, yes – I would like to help and listen to anyone who needs to talk about their feelings at being bullied.