Another few weeks and The Daughter will have completed her first year at school! It only seems a minute ago that I was spending a small fortune on her uniform and ...oh, sorry, it was just a few minutes ago as I've just done the uniform order for next year. Anyway. So yes, in September I'll have one at school and The Boychild will be starting pre-school. And this empty-nest realisation got me thinking about my school days, most of which I hated if I'm honest. Or maybe it's just that my raddled old baby brain is only holding onto the bad bits, leaving the good bits to go floating off into to join everything I learnt at University and the memories of where I left my spare car key. I remember some strange things about school, mainly the teachers and the people who left lasting memories on me, for good reasons or bad. Names shall be changed to protect the not-so-innocent and I apologise if you recognise yourselves in any of the memories that may follow. Considering it was *cough*overtwentyfive*cough* years ago, I probably remember my Junior school days with more fondness than any of the others. Like the time I went on a weekend barge trip with some classmates, my first time away from home without my parents. The teacher in charge (Mr B) amazed us by telling us he had 5 sugars in his tea, so, after asking him if he wanted a drink we made him a brew. With 12 sugars in. And stood sniggering at the other end of the boat as he drank it without flinching. I can feel the enamel peeling off my teeth just thinking about it. We made our own breakfasts, and one girl spread her toast with literally a two inch slice of butter because she'd never had to do it before. And the same teacher, Mr B, took one of my friends aside for 'a chat' at school to discuss her attitude problem. Bloody idiot! I'm having my mum up to school about this, as if I've got an attitude problem!" Indeed.
I remember losing out on the part of Jack, in Jack and The Beanstalk but the boy who was chosen in my place couldn't sing. So I had to sing his songs, offstage, with him miming along to my voice. This proved, of course, to be a ridiculous idea and after a few shambolic rehearsals he handed the part over to me. My career in theatre was short-lived as my little knees actually knocked with fear - you could almost hear the banging noise over my singing! Which brings me on to Mrs R, the choir teacher, who encouraged us to contort our mouths into all sorts of crazy shapes whilst singing. "Masticate!" she would shout, "SINGGGGGGG the words!". Even as an adult, the word 'masticate' has me sniggering. Then there was our acting headmaster Mr H who, when he got exasperated (which was fairly frequently) would slap his forehead and shout "Mamma Mia!"; like a red rag to a bull for a class of 8 year olds.
Senior school wasn't quite so fun at times, with lots of name calling and occasionally worse. I hadn't realised back then it is considered a crime to be tall and skinny. Had I known this I would, of course,have made sure I remained short and squat between the ages of 11-16. My first form teacher, Mr J, had a talent of being able to turn his eyelids inside out. And once he discovered it completely freaked me out, he would regularly enjoy sneaking up on me while I was concentrating on my work (or gossiping like an old woman about Mark Owen's bum) and appearing over my shoulder with his eyes all inside out. Oh, how I laughed! The teachers in the CDT department were a source of some laughter for us girls. There was one teacher who seemed to model himself on Shakin Stevens, albeit with an argyle jumper and rubbish highlights, who would surreptitiously gawp at the girls chests (although not mine, I didn't have one til I was about 25). Then there was Mr K, with the hair of a Trappist monk and an over-bite so big and wonky he could eat both sides of an apple at the same time. My best friend and I would write letters to each other in quite possibly the worst code in the world, full of bitchy comments about other friends and declaring our undying love for whoever it was we fancied that week. I still have a fondness for Jason Donovan and Bergerac all these years later. Sigh.
I hope The Daughter, as she carries on her journey through school, collects and remembers all the happy times and forgets about those times she had to do netball and hockey in the bloody winter with fingers so cold they're about to snap off. With a bit of luck she'll be pretty and clever and have 500 friends on Facebook. Oh, and not be tall and skinny!