When I was thirteen I stopped biting my fingernails, bought blue nail varnish and manicured every Sunday morning. This ritual tore another week off the calendar and painted me with defiant colour until I left school after my O-levels.
School kid life fitted me badly and when my music teacher's suicide was announced after registration the pressure in my haunted house shattered a window and a new emotion spread its wings but somehow didn't end as roadkill.
My form teacher told us in the same double-glazed voice she used for everything; and when she told us about Mr L. silence thickened in the classroom and even if I felt big enough to scream if I opened my mouth the silent swarm of air would evaporate any sound.
At thirteen I didn't know what noises to make about suicide and when I saw the write-up in the local paper of where and how he'd ended his life I flew back into safety and thought of him as someone off the telly, not my favourite teacher.
A quick cosmetic repair job was done on the cracks he'd made in the life of the school and his name was never mentioned again.
Soon I made an hour of Sunday mornings into shaping, polishing, strengthening and varnishing time until my nails became so symbolic of my rebellion I refused to cut them even when I was called into the head mistress's office.
A combination of new opened emotions stopped me biting my nails, one was Mr L's death another was Marc Almond.