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When I was a kid, being a member of the school drama or tennis club was important to me. I belonged to the school debating club, the school choir, the school almost anything club... I just loved belonging to a club. With school closures and disruption to life, are we doing something dangerous to our children? 

Removing their ability to be part of a club and replacing it with the membership of something much worse: the membership to an online club? 

My clubs, as a young girl, were fun, harmless and positive. 

I gained enormous pleasure from being part of a group. The drama club, the history club, the book club. I just loved clubs.  If I had been at school during 2020, all my clubs would have been put on hold.

And the only club I could join was the Greta Thunberg Club.

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My need to belong, in those long ago decades of school girl days, was vital to my sense of self. 

I can only imagine how I would feel as a young teenage girl today to see my hockey club suspended, my beloved clubs gone.  The only club I could join was on line. It would seem almost a natural progression to join the Club of Greta and the Club of BLM and the Club of just about anything that promised me a place within its hallowed walls of membership.

When I was 12 or as late as 14, all I wanted to do was belong. To a group. That feeling of acceptance was incredibly important to me. 

 Whether or not it was with the cool girls or the smart girls or the chess club girls, I had a deep seated need to belong to a group. 

In my 10th year of school, I got glandular fever. The kissing disease. Yes, I kissed a boy and he did have ( in my 50 year remembrance ) a rather gorgeous pair of lips. Unfortunately, he also had glandular fever and I was off school for 6 weeks and lost all of my clubs and associations.

When I got back to school, all of my friends had moved on and I was no longer part of the gang. The Club. 

I spent a lonely year in the library at lunchtime and realised, even at that tender age, that if you are not in " the club " then you have no sense of purpose, no sense of belonging. 

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In those days, back in the 1970's, we had not even heard of computers or the internet.  We simply did our best to deal with life as best we could.  I decided to change schools and become the new girl. 

The first thing I did was join a few clubs. I found that most clubs were closed for new membership. The only one open for membership was the Library Club. So I joined that. 3 of us met each lunch hour and discussed how sad it was that we were excluded from joining other clubs.   We rarely talked about books, just about our misery at being outsiders.

I also joined the debating club, which we created in our Library Club. We spent our lunch hours debating each other on both teams, swapping sides to put up a counter argument. After all, we only had 3 members - the same people who belonged to the Book Club.

We started to have fun. 

Our book club and debating club, all 3 of us, had fun. We took the mickey out of the " popular clubs " and would eagerly await the school newsletter where the " Justice Club " or the " Rights Club " announced their latest accolades to social justice.We would spend our time in the library lampooning the popular kids and the 3 of us would do our best to destroy their (in our opinion ) foolishness. 

Then I did a terrible thing. 

I was befriended by a girl who said that I was really nice and she wanted to be my best friend. I fell for it, hook line and sinker.

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I abandoned my two friends and walked away.

The Book Club disappeared and so did the debating society. My defection caused the collapse of that voice in my school.

I joined the cool kids and, some months later, my " friend " left school and I was dumped by my new friends.

I found myself back in the library again.

My two old friends simply said " We kept your seat. "

I have never forgotten those words. 

They did not get angry, tell me that I was wrong or make me feel like the traitor I was. They just carried on. But it was never the same. My gratitude for their forgiveness was greater than my shame but we never started the Book Club or the Debating Society again. We just sat, quiety, doing our home work and our club had gone forever. 

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I cannot even remember their names.  Isn't that terrible? I can barely see their faces.

But I can tell you that, after 50 years, they were the best friends I ever had.  I simply never knew it.

Belonging to clubs and being popular may sound like a good idea at the time, but those two young ladies were made of the right stuff.  What the Library Club lacked in numbers, it made up for in soul.

Just because a club has a vast membership does not make it a better club. It simply makes it a bigger club.

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When girls, these days, are prevented from joining their clubs, they will join  clubs like Club Greta or Club AOC. 

The Virus has altered young women, young men and older people. Much like when I had glandular fever. 

Many of us do not realise that the membership of a club is part of who we are. 

Our need to belong. 

Our Club can be a family, a school, a love of sport or a love of chess. 

The best club you can ever be a member of is the Club of Family. 

Never resign lightly.  The minute you walk away, never forget that the other members may not be as forgiving as the girls in my story. 

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