I lived in Nigeria until I was just under five pre school when my mother and I came back to Newcastle upon Tyne - for she had acute recurring malaria and for me to go to school at Goathland Avenue in Benton... that was an experience. I had more black friends than white in Nigeria and certainly had culture shock arriving here in winter without my dad around... there are photos - slides and super 8 and audio tape recordings from then I've never seen or heard which will be interesting to trawl through.
Arriving in the second term at suburban English Geordie infants/junior school from the tropics without an accent (or with a posh boy's accent anyway) it wasn't something I felt very confident about. Oh the memories. At that school - probably most schools then - everyone was the target of bullying and taunts by other children. Whatever wasn't 'normal' was mercilessly picked out and laughed at. Ears. Dimples. Knock-knees. Hair - straight, curly, frizzy, greasy, with or wthout parting, bowl cut, buzz cut, flat top, untidy, too long, too mousey, too dark. too blonde, too ginger/red. Freckles. Too small, too big too tall too short. Pigeon toes, bow legs, big noses, small, fat, uneven, squashed, upturned, bent, broken, hooked, bridged noses; eyes; too blue, too brown (stupid colour brown) grey, hazel, unmatching colours. Snot. Bent shoulders. sloped shoulders, humped back, twisted feet, big feet, small feet, fat feet, fat legs, socks that wouldn't stay up. Shorts. Prominent forehead. Thick neck, skinng neck, neck too long, chin or no chin, cheeks, rosy cheeks, hollow cheeks, buck teeth, no teeth, chinless, gormless, vacant. Being too pretty, too ugly... whatever attributes any child had were ridiculed, generally.
Perhaps because of the environment I had terrible czema, only on my hands fortunately, but they were a target of fun... cracked, bleeding fingers went down well, and I had to wear white cotton gloves a lot of the time - with a black eye patch, a squint, knock kness, big ears, dimples and hair that stuck up at the back like a duck's arse... and a fucking colonial accent in Geordie heartland. I didn't know what football was or what was the Toon or who or what Magpies were, if not the birds.