I finished high school in Canada, but I started in Britain, at St. Bede’s Comprehensive Church School, which wasn’t nearly as religious as the name suggests. But it was sort of religious, nominally religious, so when the supply list arrived, there was a Bible on it.
What I didn’t know—what I couldn’t have known—was that no-one paid attention to that list. And nobody, but nobody, brought a Bible to school. But me, I showed up on my first day with this massive tome sticking out of my bag, this fat, leather-bound, gold-embossed monstrosity. I was going for a seat, and some wee nit barred my way: “no first-years past this line.” I was all “sod off. I’m a second-year,” and he was all, “well, no Australians.” I was opening my gob to protest that when I felt a tug at my bag, and this voice rang out: “Oi! She’s got a Bible!”—and the whole bus went up, just this great bray of laughter, and a chant ringing forth: “Wanker! Bible! Wanker! Bible!” The cry rose and rose, and became my name: I became Wanker Bible.
All year, that went on—on the bus, at least. I was well-liked in my form, but on that bus, I was Wanker Bible. Every day, I’d get on, and get “hey! It’s Wanker Bible! Gizza verse!”—and I’d give them a horrible one, or a lewd one, or a silly one. You’d think they’d have tired of it, but no. That whole year, I was Wanker Bible. I tried explaining that I wasn’t even Christian, but that just, like…upgraded it to “Heretic Archbishop Wanker Fucking Bible.” To this day, I can’t look at anything remotely churchy without hearing the anthem: “Wanker! Bible! Wanker! Bible! All hail Heretic Archbishop Wanker Fucking Bible!”
Here’s the kicker, though: while there was a religious studies seminar at St. Bede’s, we spent the entire year on religions other than Christianity. I didn’t need that Bible once.