Swimming As Mental Therapy - how water washes the mind

How I became addicted to smack and speed

I am female, and only child, I won a scholarship to a 'Girls Public Day School Trust ' secondary school where I was educated from 1972-1979. It was an honour to win this scholarship since only two were offered in the County each year. In order to get to School I had to leave home at 7am in order to catch two buses into town, and then walk a further mile through a red light district in order to get into school a little before morning assembly .

I had known nothing of the school, let alone thought of attending it. The school was a long way off, was largely fee-paying, and the pupils were almost entirely from a higher demographic than myself. However, I must have done an excellent 11+ paper, as this led directly to the offer of the scholarship. It was not my only schooling option, and in many ways it presented me, at 11, with a lot of practical difficulties. Travel, change of friends, different social world, not getting in 'til 6 and lots of work and homework. Nor was I pushed to go, but I was proud of my achievement, and I found the idea of an all girl school absolutely thrilling. Despite the early mornings and horrid travel sickness that persisted day in and day out for 2 years (I had always been sick by half way through the journey), despite my obvious class difference, which was apparent from day one because of my 'common' accent, and despite the expensive uniform my parent's had to buy and all the hard academic work which was part and parcel of being there at all, to say nothing of entering an environment where I knew no-one, but knew I was out of my comfort zone socially. Yet I attended the school happily. I made friends and did well academically. I must have been a game little girl and young woman.

I went on to win a place at university, and like many young women of my age took a year off between school and U.E.A . I saw an advertisement for a live-in tutor cum nanny to an 11 year old Italian girl, got the job and off I went. As it turned out this was my first really difficult experience, because I encountered true loneliness for the first time. Determined not to lose another promising young woman to more adventurous opportunities, my employers made a point of not introducing me to anyone at all. I lived in a penthouse apartment on the outskirts of Turin, my duties were not onerous, but I lived with the mother in law in the connected granny flat . The Language barrier was a big problem, since the best English speaker was my charge Paola, and she liked playing with dolls and being spoilt, and I didn't and wasn't. I could have course come home at any time, but I had signed up for 6 months and by God, sad and lonely for the first time in my life though I was , I was going to complete my allotted time. When I came home I got shift work (one week 6 am-2pm, next week 2pm-10pm , at 'Metal Box', where the work was hard, boring, noisy and dangerous. Again I didn't like it, but I did it every day for five months, to see if I could, and went off to Norwich with a few hundreds of pounds in my pocket.

All this may seem to have little do do with my stated theme, but I want you to know me through my writing, and even I can see that at 18 I was a determined, persistent, well educated, adaptable young woman, and, well, rather brave. So how did this attractive, clever young woman so easily fall victim to drug addiction; it only took me 3 months, by the first Christmas vac, I was top drug user on campus.

One thing I do think that contributed was staying up too late, so though I want to continue drawing up the threads of my ragged 53 old self in these blogs, I'm going to bed now.

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