I'm a born and bred bogan, having been born here and lived here all my life. The irony being for me, that I've actually somehow managed to live quite a sheltered life in good old Boganville, which I attribute to having fantastic parents.
My Mother's motto has always been: we all come out the same way and we all go the same way. She absolutely detests all mockery of western Sydney. It's a wonder she let me get away with this blog, to be honest.
It is curious. I'm sure I never gave it any thought when I was a small child. We had the kind of childhood where we all played in the street and felt safe. Mum and Dad always knew where we were, however. It wasn't until high school that I became aware of the term 'Westie' and the negative connotations that went with it.
In fact, the high school that I attended had a terrible reputation. I was quite terrified of attending the school and fretted anxiously as Year Six was heading inorexably to an end. Somehow it didn't occur to me that if it was really as bad as it was reputed to be, then my brother, who had already been attending for a year or two might have arrived home bearing knife wounds, totally traumatised from having his head flushed in the loos.
I skulked around terrified for the first few days of high school, I was painfully shy anyway, so I never looked anyone in the eye. After a week or two, it became obvious that nobody even noticed I was alive and all the gruesome stories I had heard were never going to eventuate. The worst thing that ever happened to me was when some idiot, whose name I cannot even remember, used to approach me as I innocently sat in the play ground alone, reading a book and WHAM he smashed the book into my face.
It didn't last long as my brother sorted him out. I don't know what he said to him but whatever it was, it worked. I most likely escaped any intense bullying by virtue of being 'Jaffa's sister'. He was so very popular. Nick named Jaffa because of his red hair. It's a nick name that has stuck, even my boys call him Uncle Jaf. I was the extreme opposite. Excruciatingly shy, quiet, and, as it turned out an Aspie as well (although I had no idea at the time). Needless to say I kind of stood out among the typical bogan Shazza's and occasionally would receive threats that they were going to bash the shit out of me.
|Me, during high school, in all|
my mullet headed glory. Just like
a true 'westie bogan'.
"Stuck up, bitch!" was the frequent jibe. Yes, indeed, I am such a snob. Luckily, nobody ever followed through with these threats and I was left alone.
This was all at least 25 years or more ago and my memory is decidedly dodgy at the best of times about facts that happened yesterday. let alone decades ago, so bear with me. Anyway, the reputation of the school and the wild, wild west continued unabated and there was always a teacher shortage. At one point, as I recall, the students actually went on strike. As I mentioned, my memory is very patchy, so I remember there being a student 'strike' with some media attention, but beyond that I don't remember the outcome.
I made it to the end of year 12 with woeful HSC results, which I attribute to my complete disinterest in studying, not the school. One thing I remember clearly is, I failed English spectacularly. I know, so shocking, considering the literary genius that is this blog. Meanwhile, I managed to pass German with flying colours. Cannot remember a single word of German now, except Guten Tag, so that was handy. This stunned my poor Mother, who had always viewed English as my best subject. She insisted that there must have been a mistake, and requested that it be reviewed. At which point, I then received a letter confirming that, no, there was no mistake and I was in fact completely and utterly stupid. Yay me. Doing it proud for bogans. Interestingly, in my admittedly limited experience of working, no employer ever even remotely cares about your HSC results anyway.
I had no idea what on earth I was going to do. I ended up studying at TAFE for a Library Practice Diploma. I did the commute on the old red rattlers into Central station and attended Ultimo TAFE. While there,I experienced prejudice against "Westies". During one lesson ( I cannot for the life of me remember exactly what it was, something to with Legal Studies, I think, although I still do not know what that has to with learning the Dewey Decimal system, but whatever) the rather pompous teacher stated that "teachers hate teaching in the western suburbs" I'm normally so shy and never spoke up in class but this time I thought I should disagree. I tentatively raised my hand.
"I went to school in the western suburbs," I announced "and I know that most of my teachers liked teaching there."
Without missing a beat Mr Pompous preened "Yes, it is true that some teachers enjoy teaching 'problem students'." This was said in the same horrified and appalled tone you might use if you were saying "Some teachers like to light their own farts."
Erm, what? I just finished saying I went to school there. Am I a 'problem student'?
"But what you often find," he continued "is that it's very difficult for them to be good students when they're being molested by their fathers." Audible gasp in the room. There was more to his diatribe, but I can't quite remember it all in detail, because frankly, it wasn't worth remembering. At this point almost the entire class had turned on him and were arguing vehemently. Mr Pompous found himself trapped in a room full of angry 'Westies'. Just like Julia at Rooty Hill the other day.
After completing my diploma, I was employed on a temporary basis at the State Library where I once again encountered curious reactions to the revelation of where I lived. People who were perfectly charming and polite at first, completely ignored me once they discovered I was a 'Westie'. That, or they didn't actually seem to know that the western suburbs even existed, and assumed I lived in the Blue Mountains, making comments like "It must be really cold up there." After a while I just went along with it and didn't bother correcting them. But it's worked out well, really. After all, being a Westie has led me to this boring as batshit bogan blog. A born and bred bogan. There are worse things. I just have to try and think about what they are. Shut up.
Linking up with Cathy from The Camera Chronicles for Flashback Friday.
And linking up a year later for a flashback to March 2013 with Kirsty from My Home Truths for I Must Confess.
Where did you grow up? Have you been to the western suburbs of Sydney? Would you dare? Go on, I dare you....