Can you remember your first day at school? I can't remember my first ever day at school. Crikey, sometimes I fail to recall what I had for dinner last night, let alone what happened one day thirty years ago. However, I do remember my first day at senior school.
Why are you reminiscing about your school days, you may be wondering. Well, September not only means the beginning of autumn, but the beginning of a new, fresh, school term. And two of my friends daughters have began their long journey at senior school, and three of my friends have children who have started school for the very first time. So I think it's quite feasible that my head is full of such things as reliving my school days.
Green blazer, green skirt, white socks, black shoes, white shirt, red and yellow tie and black bag. I'd dressed for the occasion! This is what my senior school uniform consisted of, and this is what I wore as I nervously rang the door bell on my friends house, on my first day. We walked along the road, feeling very small and new, until we reached the bright green gates of the big school building.
"This is it," I remember thinking to myself. And then I looked at my friend in horror as I realised she had fastened the buttons on her blazer. The ultimate cardinal sin at senior school! I knew this vital piece of information as it had been passed on from a reliable family member. "You must not, under any circumstances, do your blazer up, otherwise you will be known as a boffin," I was told.
Back in those days I wasn't quite sure what a boffin was, but one look at my family members face told me I did not want to be associated with this name, and I thanked him for this important piece of advice. Now I was only too pleased to pass this knowledge onto my friend.
She thanked me profusely for warning her, undid her buttons, and we made our way to the big hall to learn our fate, ie what form classes we were to be placed in for the next five years.
As luck would have it, I was placed in the same form class as my friend Claire, who used to attend the same junior school as me. She who I used to swap shoes with, and she who married an MP whose political career and days of freedom came to an abrupt halt when he set fire to a hotel. Of course we both did not know about the MP at the time, we were only 11 and marriage and other disasters were in the dim and distant future.
Claire and I giggled our way through five years of form classes and English lessons, but we were separated in our other classes after the first year. Not because we were naughty (we had our moments, mind you) but because we were placed in different bands, depending on our levels of intelligence. Ahem, she was slightly more intelligent than me. We would still hook up every break time and lunch time, and we even became librarians so we could escape the rain and sit in the library scoffing chocolate and reading books. I wore my librarian badge with pride, not every one had those special privileges.
On the whole I didn't mind senior school. I learnt to cook jam tarts and chocolate gateaux and was called "You with the hair!" by my home economics teacher. During this period I had very long hair which I used to hide behind if I didn't know the answer to a difficult question, or if I was feeling particularly shy. I was hiding behind my hair one home economics lesson, and the teacher wanted my attention but she couldn't remember my name. Thanks Mrs Fowler. I never managed to live that episode down. For the rest of my school days boys would point at me in the corridors, snigger and shout "Oy! You with the hair!"
I was also called "Miss Chatterbox" by the art teacher. Me, a chatterbox? Whatever gave him that impression? Maybe I used to talk so much through his lessons as every lesson he gave us cheap paper to draw on (which rather resembled the cheap toilet paper we were supplied with) which would tear if we rubbed anything out. And we were always told to draw whatever we liked, and if we were good we could leave early as it was Christmas Day in Wales (he was Welsh). I would always draw my house, which got kind of repetitive, as did the Welsh Christmas Day thing, so I began talking to anyone who listened about anything I could think of. Hence I had to stand in the corner with my arms folded, for "Talking again!" for a whole double lesson. From that day forward he referred to me as "Miss Chatterbox." Still, there were worse things to be called.
When I chose my options, which meant the subjects I would be taking a GCSE exam on, I had a new art teacher who was very scary indeed. I was too petrified to talk in his classes. But behind his terrifying exterior was a sad tale of death and desperation. Apparently he lost his wife and daughter in a car crash in the 1970's. Which was apparently the reason why he still wore 70's style suits and side burns. AND as the rumour went, he'd ripped out the back seats and passenger seat in his car, in morbid dedication to his wife and daughter. I'm quite dubious as to whether the ripped seats story is true?! It seems a tad far fetched to me?
What I do know is true, is this, anyone who dared to talk, laugh or even breathe in his class, would witness his face turn deep purple and he would shout and scream at you and order you to count the bacteria on the walls.
My little cousins have not long left the same senior school, and the last school conversation I had with them I discovered this mentioned teacher is still teaching art, the ripped seats rumour is still floating around, and he is still insisting pupils count the bacteria on the walls. Some things never change hey.
I'm just glad I made it through five years of remembering not to do my blazer up and therefore was never called a boffin. "You with the hair!" and "Miss Chatterbox" yes, but boffin, no. Not ever. Maybe my school days were not so unsuccessful after all.
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