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.