I was eleven when I properly mastered the alphabet.
At secondary school we’d be seated in alphabetical order for every lesson. Thereby, that’s how I learned my A-W (we didn’t have anyone in our class named Xylophone, Yacht or Zither – it stopped at Williams).
At primary school we could sit wherever we liked. I avoided the girl who wanted to be a golden retriever when she grew up (she’d be 434 now).
The other difference was being called by your surname. No teacher called me Mick at secondary school. Nor did they call me Michael, a name which meant I’d not cleaned my room, I was late for my tea or both, so Richards was preferable.
Rather than learning more complex times tables, obscure African cities or historical events before Christ, we would, in a very regimented way, learn the procession of the alphabet because, for every lesson we’d be sitting, in order: Atkinson, Bates, Bird, Bower until Williams.
Although we all sat in the same order for academic year after academic year, from this group of ordered individuals, came an alpha male. He was Mark Finch – or Finno, as he deemed Mark to be far too effeminate for the classroom role he portrayed.
Finno was self-elected leader of the form for three reasons: he wore Cherry Red Dr Marten’s; he was the tallest and he was the first to develop pubic hair. By default, he became a Demi-god.
We were at a grammar school, but in our class, you didn’t need to go past the letter F.
And as we all know, there is no F in haddock.