replied to your post “I just followed you over those “things my new physio has said” posts,…”

You had a year book?

We did. Actually that’s kind of a a funny story.

I went to a vaguely pretentious academy that thought it was hot shit, as I’ve mentioned vaguely before (and it was, in the same sense a bag of shit on top a tire fire is lit) so we had lots of committees and stuff. I had to attend etiquette lessons and learn things like “how to host dinner parties and write formal invitations”, which in hindsight turned out to be a lot more useful in my life than algebra. So thank you Madame Williams, I still think of you every time I set out a European table setting for a formal event.

One of the other things we had to do was like, social skills and learning how to work with people on elaborate projects. This could mean organizing charity fund raisers, or things like our own school vacations. (We actually got to set up our own prom or “Leaver’s Function” as it was officially termed, which is why it was a hot mess, but that’s another story) Or in this instance, writing, producing and publishing a formal year book for the school records, and for our own keepsake.

Which went about as well as you’d imagine it would, when you give 17-18 year olds the power to write about each other. It was, to put it simply, total all out war.

It started out normally enough, those of us who wanted to be involved joined, and seen as how I was taking advanced lit, it was suggested to be a good activity for me. Cause y’know, all writing is the same. I was also joined by a couple of my theater friends and a lot of the art dept kids, and a few of the lads who were destined to go into careers in computer science who were told they had to participate because they were the only ones who knew how to work a laptop.

But there was also a large portion of the group who, shall we say, were not interested in playing nicely with others. I have no idea why. I suspect it came from thinking others hated them because they were gifted or nerdy, when in actual fact people hated them because they were assholes.

Anyway, it all went fine for the first few months. We were kept vaguely in line by a rotation of English teachers. And then for some unknown reason, the adult support dropped away entirely and uh, well remember those people who hated everyone else? Well, they started reviewing the year book as a means to revenge.

Articles that got written for clubs they were not a part of vanished. The sports teams lost their pages. Award winning students who were not part of the clique had their honorable mentions scrubbed. Suddenly there were three pages dedicated to the debate team. A page about charity work done by the “popular girls” was ““““jokingly””” reworded to read “Hoes In The Community” instead of “Hope In the Community”.

And when those of us who thought that was a little, shall we say, fucking deplorable, voiced our opinions, suddenly we were no longer included in group meetings. We’d show up to the tower on the third floor on Thursdays to find it empty. Jobs we were supposed to be doing got taken away from us. The photographer we spent weeks securing was cancelled and replaced last minute by the camera club, meaning all our photos turned out awful, and they all had to be done again by a professional, at extra cost cause it was a rush job.

The sponsors in the community we had found to help pay for the project dropped us because the charity work we were supposed to do in exchange for the sponsorship never happened. We had to scrabble to find a printer who would still produce a semi decent (leather hardback) book for a fraction of our previous budget. Which was roughly the point myself and several others said “fuck this, we quit” and washed our hands of the stress. Until one of my friends, Mark, came to find a group of us in the library one day at lunch and said “hey, uh… you should… you should probably see this” and pulled us all up into the computer lab to show us the final draft of the book which he’d stumbled across when one of the Assholes had left the laptop unattended over lunch.

And to find out that all of our articles were completely gone, our pictures had been changed for extremely ugly non-official ones, and our year book quotes, supposed to be written by our friends (so your image would have things underneath it from people saying nice things about you) had been rewritten to say things like “most likely to become a junkie” or “most likely to become homeless”, or in my case “most likely to start a cult”.

And true to form,
Mister Hadley, the piece of garbage that he was, had signed off on it—likely without reading it—and the book was approved to be sent to the publisher on the Tuesday, cause Monday was a bank holiday. And this, was Friday. So there was no way we could fix this. Even if we went to a teacher we had no time to rewrite it all and remake the whole book in time. Not when the school was closed on Monday and the books were meant to be part of a presentation for our formal graduation.

And people were understandably upset by it. One of my friends was in visible tears over being voted “most likely to wind up in a mental institute”, which I’ll admit, was the snapping point for me. We didn’t want our parents to see this, we didn’t want our names attached to it as being part of “The Year Book Committee”. This wasn’t the work we had done. And it would reflect as part of our final grades.

Now, with hindsight, I would hope that the printer would have taken one look at the vile shit that had cropped up under the photos and refused to print it, or at the very least, contacted the school. With hindsight we should have gone straight to our year head with the laptop and pitched a fit.

But I wasn’t thinking logically at that point. I was thinking with all the clarity and rage of a 17 year old who had just been voted “most likely to start a cult”, and I was willing to live up to that particular epitaph. So I proposed instead that we sneak into the school on the Monday when the school would technically be closed, but was still open while the teachers were in doing work, and work to fix it. Whose with me?!

Cue a lot of coughing and ringing silence, until Mark, gods love him, a willing enabler to a lot of my impulses said “sure” with a shrug and agreed to help me.

Which was how, on a bank holiday Monday, my friend Mark and I went for an early morning stroll through the surrounding forest around the school, and just happened, happened, to come out by the tennis courts up on the west field, hopped the fence, and managed to sneak in through the gymnasium to get into the school proper, and wound up sitting in the computer lab with the lights off, pouring over a laptop so thick and heavy by modern standards it resembled a cinder block and likely weighed about the same.

It took us several hours, but we managed to remove all of the offensive content, and replaced it with the original rough drafts which we’d managed to piece together over the weekend. And what we couldn’t replace, we made up. Benign, bland pleasantries, which no doubt left a lot of people confused. But harmless in their banality.

Things like “going to miss you loads, xoxox” and “most likely to own a posh car one day”. That sort of thing.

We also swapped out the ugly photos for more pleasant ones. And just generally removed the spite from it. Because that’s not what year books are for. You’re supposed to move on from them, not freeze yourself in time through an act of vindictiveness.

But when it came to changing my quotes back, I hesitated over deleting the “most likely to start a cult” line, watching as Mark (several irn brus to the wind and a box of malteasers overwrought) typed up the very kind “most likely to write a best selling novel” comment provided by my friends, and said “actually keep it in.”

Which is why in my year book, I am voted most likely to write a best selling novel, but also, to start a cult. Because while I wasn’t so keen on the nasty things they’d written about other people, I absolutely wanted them to know who had made the changes to the file. I wanted them to open it up on the Tuesday to find a file with no previous saved versions and no other documents, and know that they had to hand it over, or fail.

And Mark, knowing me, and knowing what I was thinking, quietly and wryly joined me by writing the words, “most likely to become a hacker” next to his own name.

And hit save.

It was all very terribly dramatic and unnecessary, but so is everything when you’re 17. And the book was still an absolute piece of shit and dull as dish water. But at least no one was hurt by it.

… I can’t help but feel that the world lost the potential for some truly incredible feats of Shenanigans when you suffered that exhausting immune system collapse.

Hey if it makes you feel any better, I never left my bullshit. I just changed the medium by which I engage with it.

We had a yearbook too and nobody was interested in it, some girls had seen it in American TV/films and decided they wanted to do it. Said girls were the ‘popular’ girls and it all (apparently) all revolved around them (never saw a copy myself).

So a group of lads started an “alternative yearbook” which included photos from a book about dog breeds labelled with the names of the girls doing the official yearbook.

Somebody left it out on a desk, a teacher saw it, and long story short that’s how the head boy a) broke his leg being shoved down the stairs and b) was suspended and only allowed back on school grounds to sit his GCSEs.

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