Three Times the Speed of Light

That’s the rate at which I judge the last three years to have gone. In an attempt to distract myself from the post-Brexit anger and misery I’ve been feeling, I’ve been thinking about my Year 11 prom, which I’m informed was three years ago today. Some of my thoughts about that night, running up to the point where Will arrived at my house (since neither of us had a date), are collected in one of my notebooks. At first, and for a long time, I was adamant I wasn’t going to go. I think I was convinced that in order to do the whole prom thing properly, I had to have a real date – but I knew that I certainly wasn’t going to have one. The one girl I wanted to ask would probably have politely declined (she’s nice like that), and it wasn’t exactly like anyone else was going to queue up to go with me. I also believed that I would be expected to dance, and – as a disabled person – let me tell you that if I can’t physically do it, there’s no point in me trying at all! I relegated myself to minor arm movements at my table in the end, and once the night had gotten underway I discovered that all of my fears had been completely unfounded. I went from being completely reluctant to go to believing that I’d had one of the best nights in recent memory.

Will and I arrived at Butlins, where the prom was being held that year, in the back of my uncle’s Audi, which Dad had borrowed for the occasion. With everyone else, we watched the rest of the arrivals roll in, using vehicles ranging from a double-decker bus to a tractor (which actually came through a few times before stopping, I seem to remember). When we went inside, proceedings officially began – there was music to be sung and danced to, mocktails to be consumed and a prom spread to be eaten. Where the latter was concerned, I remember reacting with horror upon realising I wouldn’t be able to access the food all that easily. “Some bastard’s put steps up to the food!” I exclaimed to Will at the top of my lungs over the music. I went the entire night without a single bite, which to my knowledge is the only time I’ve ever willingly done that – and certainly the only time I ever will! One thing I was told I had to spend the night with, on the other hand, was the security guard whose job was to escort me to the loo for reasons of safety. I was embarrassed about having to be followed around whenever I needed to do my business, so eventually I successfully gave the guard the slip and never saw them again. After all, it was my business and nobody else’s!

I was also slightly embarrassed when I was named that year’s Prom King, as I have always felt uncomfortable being the centre of attention. The awkwardness of the situation, in which my name was called out in front of everyone so that I could go up and collect my plastic crown, was compounded by the fact that I managed to crash into a chair and get stuck on the way across the room. Eventually, the prize had been given and the photos had been taken, and everything got back to normal. I was left feeling that my friend Hamish was much more deserving of Prom King, in his colourful top hat and cane attire. To this day, I think he was robbed – by me!

It might now seem like I’m predominantly moaning, but I really did have a brilliant time that night – with good friends, bangin’ tunes and nice drinks, what more do you need? For me, it seemed complete, but there was something else I noticed. Everyone there, whether they were friends, acquaintances or people who had never spoken before, were getting on as though they knew each other inside out. They were shaking hands, embracing and laughing together as young adults heading into the next stages of their lives post-16. It was a kind of respect I saw carried into the Sixth Form, and something that was a defining element of prom for me, along with the music, the drinks, the banter and the temporary deafness and muteness Will and I were left with at the end of the night!

Mason

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