I used to be a friendly child, but that seems ever such a long time ago now. I don’t quite know when my current attitude of bitterness and cynicism first took hold, but I suspect it was around the time when I saw my godfather pretending to be Father Christmas that it all began. My world was rocked – if Father Christmas didn’t exist, then what else had my parents lied to me about? The Tooth Fairy? But there was still money under my pillow, who was putting that there? The Easter Bunny? But then where did chocolate eggs come from? A factory, I suppose. What was next? You’ll be telling me next that there’s no such thing as summer holidays and our parents and teachers had been drugging us, leaving us in hibernation pods and then going off and enjoying six children-free weeks each summer.
Well, that last one was true, certainly. It wasn’t until I hit puberty early that the effects of the soporific gas they used to pump into our classrooms didn’t work on me any more, and while my classmates slumped around me I was whisked out of the school into a special camp they had for pubescents like me. Yeah, if you want to know why us teenagers are so bloody grumpy all the time, those camps weren’t like the wholesome summer camps you see on schmaltzy American movies. No, more like bloody Lord of the Flies they were.
We never actually killed anyone like that poor fat kid in the book, but having a bunch of kids around each other for six weeks with very little adult supervision meant we felt like it a lot, and talked about it a lot more. Certainly being in that kind of environment imbues you with a whole lot of distrust in your fellow man, distrust that it takes a lot to get back. In my case it took me until my mid-twenties before I could finally begin opening up to people again, the damage that had been done to me was so great.