Going back to school: Al Porter, comedian
Come to think of it, my childhood was a weird mix of bleakness and ridiculous fun
Al Porter: I remember, as a neurotic nine-year-old, pulling my mam aside one week before school and saying: “I don’t know how to add and subtract! I can’t do any of it!” Photograph: Brian McEvoy
Al Porter, Comedian
I used to dread going back to school. Even though I was quite academic, I’d be convinced that I’d forgotten everything I had previously learned. I remember, as a neurotic nine-year-old, pulling my mam aside one week before school and saying: “I don’t know how to add and subtract! I can’t do any of it!” Even in secondary school, I would worry that I couldn’t speak a word of Irish or French anymore. I always looked forward to reconnecting with friends, but, again, I thought everyone would forget who I was. Come to think of it, my childhood was a weird mix of bleakness and ridiculous fun.
During the summer, sometimes we went on family holidays to Spain. When we didn’t have the money, and this is true, we’d just turn up the heating and tell my nana that we were away. We’d drive out to the airport, she’d fall asleep and then we’d wake her up in the arrivals lounge. This was our huge family lie. We’d all wear shorts for the week and my mam would get me to take showers so it looked like I’d been playing in the pool.
I used to audition for various shows over the summer and rehearsals often coincided with the return of school. Inevitably, I’d end up performing monologues or funny poems in class. It wasn’t that anybody actually wanted to hear them; it just meant that both the teachers and students didn’t have to work. This was at St Mark’s in Tallaght. One year I got a used revision book where, under the question “What happens in Hamlet?” someone answered “. . . stays in Hamlet”. That pretty much encapsulates my experience of school.