I went to what was, and still is considered an excellent school. A highly academic girl's grammar school. So academic that one of their first tasks was to ensure we could all spell 'grammar' properly. Oh, and to remind us on a regular basis that [we] 'were the top 2% girls'. And don't you ever forget it!
Other things considered most important were that we all had regulation colour socks, and to the point of teachers searching through the cloakrooms obsessively, the correct colour coats. Woe betide any girl unlucky enough not to have wealthy parents, a non regulation coat (navy blue only) would reward a girl with daily lectures until they broke and put constant, hysterical pressure on their cash strapped parent to replace their existing, perfectly acceptable but not navy blue coat.
Such care and attention to detail over appearance made it rather easy on occasion to get drunk, smoke fags and the occasional spliff on school time. We learnt very early on that such transgressions would be ignored in favour of a lecture about wearing earrings. Along with the music teacher's interesting ideas about 'gels' not being able to sing with jumpers on, or without sitting on desks so legs were visible along with the view up our skirts, or the
Bullying was the order of the day, you either sunk or swam, the idea of reporting such problems to a teacher being as laughable as the idea they might give a damn about it. The only things the teacher's were really interested in were ensuring the police attended rapidly to remove the pre pubescent little boys hanging around outside the school before they "carried us off and did unspeakable things" Thus successfully planting the hope in our boy crazed heads that we might just find out what those things were. The vast majority of course having done so long before 16th birthdays came around.
Fortunately the years of uniform obsession are long cosigned to the past, the only clues remaining my constant fear of 'scruffiness'. Oh and the regulation house gym knickers which were almost as big on me at 18 as they were at 11. Until facebook.
So last night I went to meet up with a girl I'd not seen since leaving school. We were never the closest of friends, both just trying to survive the school experience the best we could. I'd had to cancel a previous arrangement last week as my hips were bad, and I was a little nervous about seeing someone from school now I'm cripped up.
I shouldn't have worried, it was a lovely night. We caught up on the events in our adult lives, and reminisced about the horrors of a school interested in nothing but appearance and results.
Perhaps in another 15 years or so a few more of us 'top 2% girls' will have managed to achieve the level of career success our peers from the local secondary modern have done.