We spent bank holiday weekend and a few more days at my Mum’s in Norfolk and in typical Mum style she had dug out a load of old bits and bobs for me to decide if I wanted to keep them or not. Nestling among the many piles of papers which included the screen play to Pretty Woman given to me by my best friend (kept) and a lot of old birthday cards (binned) I found an old school report and it made me feel a bit sad.
I wonder if other people look at old school reports and see what I did? I read the words of my teachers, the ones I liked, the ones I couldn’t stand and those I felt indifferently towards and I can see clearly that some of them didn’t know me at all and I don’t think did me justice. I had all this potential and granted I wasted a lot of it myself but I can only really see that there was one teacher who ‘got’ me, one teacher who inspired me and just one teacher who gave a flying you know what about me.
I went to a pretty unusual high school. I have lots to say about it, not all bad because I had masses of fun there but it was a very unique experience. It was a drama school, a proper, full time drama school and believe it or not, it was just like being in an episode of Fame. We absolutely did dance down the corridors and on the lunch tables, we had the biggest giggles and yet somehow it was also one of the most depressingly sad places to be. Perhaps just teenage angst but I don’t think so, I think it was just so out of the ordinary that it evoked very extreme emotions.
I had an eating disorder which started at school and I would say 90% of the girls I schooled with were the same. I was bulimic and anorexic in equal measures and have always had a battle with food ever since. I know I wouldn’t have been this way had I not attended the school I did. Ultimately the buck lies with me as to why I stopped eating but still and all the same, if I’d stayed at a normal school I really think I would have just eaten lunch. Then gone home and eaten supper. Then got up for another day and had my breakfast, but that’s a whole other story.
It’s very odd going to a school full of wannabe’s (and I am of course lumping myself in with that group). There are some very famous people now who were in my year or within my time at the school and I think, looking at them now, you’d see they’re not quite like other people. It takes a certain someone to attend a school like this. I travelled from Norwich on the train every single day to London. That’s a 4 hour round train trip, 5 and a half with buses at the end of the train line and I think most people would say it wasn’t worth it. For me it was and I don’t regret it but at the same time, all that determination and travelling didn’t get me anywhere.
I was the sort of girl who didn’t want to work. I needed teachers who would nurture me because I had lots to be nurtured. I am a really good actress, that might sound boastful, I don’t mean it to, but I’m confident that I am. At school my passion was nurtured, I had the most wonderful teacher who I’m still in contact with from time to time and he for me was that one teacher you’ll never forget. The 14 year old me was definitely a bit in love with him, he knew that, it won’t be shocking news for him! But he taught me so much, he is a wonderful actor and he inspired me. That’s what a teacher should be, inspiring and GOOD at what they’re teaching – to him I am forever grateful. He made my good memories at that school and gave me a reason to go in every day. Still to this day I see Thursday as a great day, I of course don’t have double acting these days more’s the pity, but back then, an afternoon under his tutelage was like a holiday. I got to be me and I got to be good at being me.
The rest of my teachers? Well, a few of them I can say were nice. Two of them I can say were utterly horrible and the rest? Inefficient! I look at my school report for the non acting subjects and I see the 43% marks I was getting were nowhere near what I would have been capable of. They all seem to know that in their reports yet none of them helped me, none of them gave me any time, thought or care. Apart from that one teacher of course. ‘Must try harder’, ‘Needs to focus’ and ‘Could do better’ seemed to be the running theme. This wasn’t a big school, there were 15 people in my year. I think I could have been given a better standard of care, a better standard of teaching. I think I could have done better and tried harder and focused if only I’d had better teaching.
One of my teachers wrote ‘Good Luck’ at the bottom of his report. I know reading it now and it might seem like he really meant it but I’m sure he was being rather sarcastic. I remember a girl (she’s since been famous, lost it in the Big Brother house and disappeared into obscurity) who had a rather nice talent for pornagraphic cartoon drawing. She drew one of him on the white board one day and it still makes me giggle. He was so completely inadequate and when he almost burst with fury it just proved even further that he should be teaching history in a stuffy boys school in the country, NOT in a leotard clad, all singing, all vibrant school in London. At least tucked away in the country he might have found some reason to be happy himself and given his charges the effort they deserved.
The academic work was really just done because it had to be done, no one really cared, seemingly including the teachers, definitely including me. And other teachers, the vocational ones, just didn’t stop to look at anyone who didn’t excel in their subject? I was never going to be a ballerina but they could have helped me become stronger in the subject? Instead the principle ballet teacher poked me in the bum with a pencil and said to the whole class ‘Ruth Davies needs to lose this by half term’. I weighed 6 stone. My 1994 report says I need more confidence? I’ll say! It’s kind of hard when you’ve been told you’re fat and have to wear pink ballet tights in front of skinny girls who eat toilet paper for lunch. I wasn’t cared enough about, they didn’t care. If I’d been an excellent ballerina then I would have had attention. As it stood I was given attention in acting and singing which of course pleased me but that wasn’t even half of the week. Maybe those teachers too were only interested in the people who were good at their subjects but I think not. I remember my acting teacher being attentive to even the shittest actors in the school, rotten some of them were, yet now one is a major player in Hollywood. He had good teaching you see.
I loved my time at the school and I hated it too. I’m grateful for the opportunity of going there because it could have opened doors for me, it’s a memory and a part of who I am. IF I’d had the face that fit for the majority of the faculty staff then I’m sure I would have gone far. I was however, unwilling to tow the line, always have been, that’s just me. Instead of embracing that streak in me, which they could and should have done, and helping me reach my full potential WITH my strong personality, they left me out in the cold for the subjects I wouldn’t have a career in.
I read my school report now with sadness for the ‘in work’ actress I should be. I beat a thousand girls to my place at that school, they knew I was a good actress but because I wasn’t a wonderful dancer (I’m in Geri Halliwell’s raining men video slightly out of time with everyone else on the spins) and because I wouldn’t show a willing interest in academic subjects, with teachers who to me looked like they were waiting for retirement and taking the easy route for the winter of their careers in a private drama school, I was lost. Ah, such is life I suppose. I bumped into my old acting teacher recently at a children’s play zone would you believe; he is now married with children too. He’s not even that much older than me really and was just a boy, over a decade younger than I am now, when he taught me and inspired me so. We spoke about why I’m not acting much and I know I should be. Having it confirmed by someone I respect so much only makes it more clear to me. I’m still a good actress and I still have time. I must put my mind to it, unlike I did with my school work. If I want to I know I can achieve anything. I hope now I can over turn my career and begin working solidly again, I believe I can do that and I’m going to give it a bloody good go despite what most of my teachers in 1994 had to say about me!
A selection of the reports!
MY LIFE WITH 2!
It’s been a fab half term despite us only having two proper days of sunshine! We were in Norwich for much of the holiday and even on the days when it rained we’ve made good use of my Mum’s lovely garden. She has an enormous garden which she cares for so much and it really shows itself of to its best at this time of year. I used it for a bit of a fashion photo shoot for my blog this week and the results were fab!
Florence and Jimmy enjoyed running around it and being free and on the really sunny day we got every garden toy out and stayed outside from early morning until late afternoon. Jimmy especially enjoyed it I think and I realised that he hasn’t really had any nappy free time until now at all. It must be so nice to be free of that for a day and have the freedom to just run up and down the garden.
We came back to London on Wednesday because we had a DVD launch party to attend at the Tower Of London for Series 4 of Horrible Histories! My sister Phoebe came with us and it was a fab day out as we got to stay at the tower afterwards. Florence walked for absolutely ages and was super tired when we got home. There’s a lot of steps in that tower! Florence was just pleased to be with her Aunty. She loves her SO much and the pair of them had a lovely time together! Most of the pictures I took were of just the two of them because I was carrying Jimmy on my back and I was obviously holding the camera. They’re very alike I think, in personality, the way they speak and move and the way they look!
And now it’s the weekend and I’m going away for the night tomorrow night. My friend is celebrating her 40th birthday and we’ve booked for a night away in a four star spa hotel. I’m really looking forward to it but at the same time I’m a bit worried about leaving Jimmy. I didn’t leave Florence until she was over two so I feel a bit guilty leaving Jimmy so much sooner… Jonny has exams coming up and needs to study lots so my Mum is coming down to help him out with looking after them. I know they’re in good hands but I can’t help feeling guilty and worried about it all the same. My friends have mentioned the word clubbing but to be honest, I expect I’ll just go to bed and try to enjoy a full nights sleep! I wonder if I’ll manage it or if I’ll wake up worrying about them?
Well, that’s it for another week, see you soon but in the mean time do follow me on Twitter @rocknrollerbaby.
I was not paid for any part of this post.