A Prefect Day

Like most schools, mine had a competitive house system. There were six in total and they had the rather grandiose names of: Trelawny, Leofric, Courtenay, Grandisson, Temple and one other I forget. They were named after dead bishops and each house was represented by a colour. I was in Courtenay which was red. Perhaps it was a happy coincidence but many other girls of auburn origin in the school were also in Courtenay and most of the girls with blond hair were in Trelawny which was yellow.

Occasionally, the homework I managed to hand in on time might be awarded with a housemark; a pink slip of paper for outstanding work that would be posted into a wooden box. Then, at the end of each term, all the housemarks were counted and the names of those with the most were read out in assembly for prize-giving. However, as well as being the house with the most ginger people, Courtenay also had a lot of brainiacs. I may have been ginger but I was not a brainiac and in my seven years at the school, there was only one occasion I can remember where my name was called out during the housemark count.  On hearing my name, I stood up on shaky legs and excitedly started making my way through the row of chairs, only to be dragged back to my seat by another pupil who said “YOU don’t go up!  You only got third place!!”

So I was never going to make House Captain. Or Head Girl. Or Deputy Head Girl. And with mild asthma, flat feet and appalling hand/eye co-ordination, the post of Games Captain was also ruled out. But in the sixth form, I did hope I might be made a Prefect. The odds of this happening were much better as there were always lots of Prefects.

Sadly though, the teachers had other ideas and I ended my school career without a sniff of a title or any badge of honour. In fact, the only thing I’ve ever won on merit was a darts trophy at the Sidwell School fête when I was twelve. I scored 62 which was the highest score of the day.

Yesterday afternoon, I went back to my former school for the first time in nineteen years. It will also be the last time as the school is closing down at the end of the term.  I walked to the school arm in arm with my two best friends, Charlotte and Jessica. Charlotte was Form Captain seven times but both of them also missed out on the honour of being a Prefect. So, I decided to right this wrong and will be forever grateful to amazon.com where, for the reasonable price of £3.44 each, I bought three Prefect badges. Yesterday, shiny badges proudly pinned to our chest, we strode around our former school, chatting to teachers and pupils and for one gloriously hot sunny afternoon, we finally got to be a Prefect.

prefect

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My Funny Valentine #2

I like Valentine’s Day. I love the role of bemused bystander, watching the girls in work expectantly waiting all day for a show of affection from their loved one, or spotting couples after work through restaurant windows sitting in uncomfortable silence with each other as they struggle to think of something to say.

This year, I’ve decided to mark the occasion by sharing a golden sample of my illustrious dating experiences leading up to the big day itself.

Last night, I shared the story of “Fishgate“.  Tonight’s story, “Fringe Benefits”, is below.

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Fringe Benefits

I was also fifteen when I went out with K. It lasted but a week, only this time I was the one who was smitten.  For a public schoolboy he was a little bit edgy. He drove a scooter and had a shaved head except for a fringe at the front. The Saturday he called round my parents’ home for our date, he’d fashioned his fringe into three thin dreadlocks which hung limply in front of his face. This, in my eyes, only added to his coolness. When I asked what he’d used to style his hair, “Window Cleaner” was the response.

That afternoon, we walked around the perimeter of Heavitree Park (twice), stopping off for a kiss at every other park bench. We walked hand in hand into town, had a McDonalds and later I waved him off at the bus stop. I was in love.

The following week, he waited for me every day after school to walk me home. Only I was nowhere to be seen. I found the strength of my feelings for him too overwhelming to even contemplate meeting him in person and hid in the classroom, paralysed by my passion, until eventually, he just gave up waiting.

Tomorrow’s story is Pinter-rest

My Funny Valentine #1

I actually like Valentine’s Day. Which is rare for a singleton. I love the role of bemused bystander, watching the girls in work expectantly waiting all day for a show of affection from their loved one, or spotting couples after work through restaurant windows sitting in uncomfortable silence with each other as they struggle to think of something to say.

Valentine’s Day this year will be spent like many others; by myself. Thankfully, my mother no longer spends the postage on sending me a card with ill-disguised handwriting. As well meaning as the gesture was, the charade of pretending I received a card from a secret admirer was getting a little tired by the time I hit my thirties.

This year, I’ve decided to mark the occasion by sharing a golden sample of my illustrious dating experiences leading up to the big day itself.

Today’s story is Fishgate.

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Fishgate

I was fifteen the first time I received a dozen red roses. I didn’t really fancy R, the boy who sent them, but he was smitten with me and told me so through the language of flowers. The only time I remember having a date with him involved me going round to his very large family house. He grandly showed me every single room, including the well stocked wine cellar during which he made his move. Unfortunately, that evening, he’d had fish for dinner and had neglected to clean his teeth afterwards. Our romance was short-lived.

Tomorrow’s story is Fringe Benefits

Slow dance

When I was younger, I went to Sunday School for six weeks. I started going because my mother thought it would be a good extra-curricular activity to do, along with gymnastics and bird watching. I stopped going because the Sunday School teacher would never let me finish my drawings from the week before and I would be faced with a blank sheet of paper again.

The Sunday School teacher wasn’t being cruel as every other child had finished their drawing. My drawings weren’t finished because I moved at a snail’s pace when I was growing up. I was creative. A daydreamer and a perfectionist. I wasn’t academically slow, just physically, and as a result was late for everything. I danced to a different beat.

This was the source of frustration to my parents but even more so to my teachers who misconstrued daydreaming for laziness. It was much easier to label a child lazy than creative and I can understand that being late for school every day and handing essays in after deadlines with excuse after excuse would rile the most patient of teachers.

Occasionally though, I got away with it. My history teacher was a lovely cuddly lady called Mrs Yeo. I remember little of what I was taught, but I do remember that I once handed in half an essay – two sides of A4 lined paper in blue ink – on the subject of the Crimean War. The next day I was summonsed to her office to find paperwork scattered all over the floor with a frantic Mrs Yeo in the middle, desperately searching for the second half of an essay that had yet to be written. She had no doubt that there was a second half because the first half had stopped mid-sentence.

The older I became, the less I daydreamed as I started to believe it would hinder me. On a practical level, no-one wants to employ a slow coach, and in early interviews for my first temping jobs, I was judged on how quickly I could type, not on how pretty I could make the text look.

However, earlier this year, I started to paint again and had a little daydream of being an artist. Later today, I have a meeting with my boss and am going to tell him that I rather like my daydream, and would rather like it to come true.

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