Heads or Tails #4 – Schools

Skittles has started a new meme for every Tuesday called visit her blog for instructions. Basically she gives us a word and we can do whatever we like with it. That can’t be too hard, can it? This week the subject is School appropriately enough as the children return to the halls of learning today.

This is a picture of my school, St. Augustine’s Boarding School for Girls at Ascot Priory, in Berkshire England. It was an Anglo Catholic convent. After the reformation when England became a Protestant country, not acknowledging the Pope, England was no longer Roman Catholic but the state religion was called Anglo Catholic.

The door closest in the picture was the main access into the boarding school, where each term we were dropped off until the next vacation. A place of rejoicing for some, tears for others. Every year a further drawing away from family relationships until at last there were none. A place where you learned to survive.

I spent some time today reading the first chapter of this book . It helped me understand myself a little better and brought a few tears.

THE MAKING OF THEM
The British Attitude to Children and the Boarding School System

by Nick Duffell

The Making of Them
A remarkable new book which will be essential reading to anyone interested in the nature and culture of the English, their education system, their attitude to children, and the psychological and social effects of sending their sons and daughters away to boarding schools:

A quote taken from the book.

“I was homesick during the whole of my first term at St. Peter’s. Homesickness is a bit like seasickness. You don’t know how awful is it till you get it, and when you do, it hits you right in the top of the stomach and you want to die. The only comfort is that homesickness and seasickness are instantly curable. The first goes away the moment you walk out of the school grounds and the second is forgotten as soon as the ship enters port.”

“Unless you have been to a boarding school when you are very young, it is absolutely impossible to appreciate the delights of living at home. It is almost worth going away because its so lovely coming back. I could hardly believe that I didn’t have to wash in cold water in the mornings or keep silent in the corridors, or say ‘Sir’ to every grown-up man I met, or get flicked with wet towels while naked in the changing room, or eat porridge for breakfast that seemed to be full of little round sheep’s-droppings, or walk all day long in perpetual fear of the long yellow cane that lay on top of the corner-cupboard in the Headmaster’s study.” Roald Dahl. Boarding School Survivors

View more participants in the “Heads or Tails” meme.

School days

This is a picture of my school, Ascot Priory, in Berkshire England. It was an Anglo Catholic convent. After the reformation when England became a protestant country, not acknowledging the Pope, England was no longer Roman Catholic but the state religion was called Anglo Catholic.

The door closest in the picture was the main access into the boarding school, where each term we were dropped off until the next vacation. A place of rejoicing for some, tears for others.

At the end of the walkway was Reverend Mother’s office where we would go to line up to receive our weekly pocket money on a Saturday morning. She had a horrid boxer dog that lay at her feet and growled at us all the time. We were all quite intimidated by her. She used to be a showgirl but had become a nun in later life.

Once in a while, a relative would come to take us out for the day. We would have to go in our school uniforms, but we would try to stuff our own clothes in a bag and change behind the trees, and leave our uniform under the big tree to the right.

I did not get to go out very often, but my parents where on leave from Iraq, and they were coming to take me out for the day. I was knitting myself a bright bubble gum pink sweater, with a lot of cable stiches and I had hurried to finish it so I could wear it when they came. I had had to work so hard to finish it that the veins in my hands were swollen, but I completed it in time for the day.

I hid it in my bag in order to change at the end of the driveway and told my parents when they arrived what I planned to do. They wouldn’t let me, they were so proud of the uniform they said, and I had to leave my lovely sweater under the tree instead.

Do you have a childhood disappointment you would like to share?