1967 Race

At Primary School one of the first things I learnt was to run, having bright ginger hair, freckles and being the only redhead in a primary school of hundreds of kids I quickly worked out I needed to either learn how to fight or just run quicker and as I had no father, no brothers and no able body males in the family I got fast, practicing racing against vehicles coming down the road, if it was a car burst into a sprint the moment I heard it coming and beat it to the next tree or stobie pole before it passed me if it was a push bike I would match speed and maybe beat it to the next corner.

The Next Step was cornering with up to 3 bigger lads on my heels I could change direction multiple times and be highly incentivised each time I didn’t get away so practiced at every opportunity.

In grade five one of the teacher’s spotted me legging it across the oval from another kid even at that distance he recognised my red hair which because of my regular sprints was rarely neatly brushed this added to my alienation being ostracized by the other children, he offered me a place on some part of the school racing team this proved to be an embarrassment for that teacher as well as me not being used to running in close quarters with other kids I didn’t get more than two steps when the boy to my left tripped me to the joyous response of both teachers and kids watching.

One year later I would also learn not to be accepting of any sport which placed me standing still in front of kids with a ball in hand when I was forced to be part of the cricket team tryouts I knew I was in trouble from the moment they handed me a bat then put me in front of the one lad I already knew was a good shot with rocks, the black eye hung about for 2 weeks, I often wondered why the teacher’s would join in to laugh or just ignore that I was being bullied relentlessly but later in life after most of the freckles had faded and years of wishing my hair was brown most of the red had darkened I found that many people considered a scruffy redhead boy not to be trusted, I must admit that by the time I was 13 I was often “up to no good” when unsupervised but don’t think it had much to do with hair colour.

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