This afternoon I was invited to a ‘parent’s tea’ at my daughter’s new secondary school. As per usual, I had completely forgotten about it until the last minute! I phoned Mr Grump to see if he was close to finishing work (he is a delivery driver for a charity), as I did not want to face this ordeal alone. My daughter, having only started three weeks ago, had already made herself known,as was the norm with her,
In her very first reception year, she was the child that had to wear as high vis top as she kept trying to do a runner at lunchtimes; In junior school during the first week, whilst I was dropping her off in the morning, the headmaster saw us and greeted her by name, which was not a good sign (I later found out that she had flooded the toilets by turning on all the taps, leaving them running as she thought it would be fun).
I myself used to attend this new school back in the late 70’s when it was a boarding/grammar school. It still is a grammar school but no longer has boarders, and some of the old buildings that were used for this purpose, have now been turned into more classrooms, so it had changed quite a bit since I was there.
This started me thinking about some of the other ways that it had changed as we meandered along various corridors, up and down stairs, and in and out of the various buildings. The first thing that struck me was the classrooms no longer had the retro 50’s desks that we used to have. The ancient, wooden single desks that had a groove etched out for pencils etc and a little hole in the corner which used to hold a pot of ink in order to fill up the fountain pen that was compulsory (even when I went we had to write in fountain pen, but thank goodness, refill cartridges had been invented by then, as God knows, I made enough mess just changing them, let alone being let loose with pot of ink!
These desks also had a lid to them which was very handy to store your books in, and hide behind if you wanted to avoid the teacher’s steely glare (naively, we thought she couldn’t see us), and a telling off swiftly ensued.
My daughter wanted to introduce me to her maths teacher, and this was the second shock, He was warm and welcoming, not to mention encouraging and enthusiastic, but what struck me the most was that he was wearing a funny tie that had various sums all over it! My math’s teacher was a bloody dragon to say the least. She struck the fear of God into us poor terrified pupils, with her cap and gown engulfing her skinny frame; Her small stature did not suit the bellowing, foghorn voice that emitted from her as some brave soul dared to tell her that they did not understand something! Big mistake,! That called for a total humiliation in front of the whole class for them, plus the rest of us were stupid idiots if we dared to admit that we did not understand it as well. The verbal lashing we got from her would ring in ours ears, and we soon learned to shut up, keep our heads down and get help from someone else!
I was shown to the PE area next which evoked some pretty unpleasant memories. Nowadays, (God, that makes me sound old) the PE kit is skort, joggers, shorts, hoodies,polo shirts, shin pads, mouth guard,dance kit and all kinds of other stuff. We had a polo shirt, little tiny skirt, and bloody great passion killer knickers that we had to wear underneath, which we wore in ALL weathers. For Gym we had a lovely little black leotard which looked good on no-one. As for mouth guards etc, we had never heard of them. On one occasion whilst playing hockey, I got whacked in the mouth with a hockey stick, told to go to the Home Economics department for some ice to put on it, then hurry up back to the game and get on with it!
The biggest humiliation of all was the dreaded shower afterwards…..I remember those with absolute horror. We had a large, waist height set of showers, we lined up at one end,, the teacher would whip of your towel (we were naked), and we had to have a quick shower and come out the other end. This was mortifying for body-conscious young teenagers, but there was no getting out of it!
Once our tour of the school was over, we went back to the hall where refreshments were being served….needless to say there was a massive queue, and being rather partial to a cup of tea, I was disappointed that we did not have time to wait, as Mr Grump had to get back to the depot before it closed…mind you a must admit I was glad to get out of there. However much it had changed for the better, I am pretty glad my school days are over. Now I just hope my daughter enjoys hers!