In this week’s column, Candis editor Flic Everett looks back in tears at her own schooldays…
It’s not quite September yet, admittedly, but all the shops are filled with Back To School purchases. I imagine some children feel their little hearts lift as school looms on the horizon, looking forward to playing with their friends and filling their heads with learning. But 40 years on, the idea of school still makes me shudder.
I used to dread the end of the holidays so much, I’d annually whip myself up into a state of sobbing despair the night before the first day back.
I was not some Victorian orphan, attending a school like Lowood in Jane Eyre, where disobedient pupils were forced to stand on chairs holding placards listing their flaws. I wasn’t even at boarding school, where I might not see my parents for months on end and be forced to attend Latin lessons on a Saturday morning and chapel on a Sunday. In fact, I went to a perfectly pleasant day school, where there was no bullying and I was home by 4pm every day eating a custard slice.
In fact the worst thing that ever happened was being forced to play a munchkin in the school production of The Wizard of Oz, due to me being extremely short. I wore a stripey jumper and a binbag with green foil spots stapled to it, and I still shudder when I think about it. The second worst was when I got distracted by a kitten at the far end of the hockey pitch. I wandered off to stroke it, leaving my position unattended, and let in a series of goals from the opposing team while it rolled about happily in the grass. I looked up to find a crowd of furious, red-faced girls charging towards me, yelling, and was never picked for a team again.
But that aside, there was very little to complain about, other than the fact it was school, and I’d rather have been at home reading a book.
My hatred of it may have sprung from my early experience of starting school. With an August birthday, I was the smallest in the class, and I started at just turned five. I was an only child, unused to rough and tumble of any sort, and 30 rough, tumbling children terrified me. I fixated on my kindly teacher and followed her about all day crying, until my mum came to get me and had a ‘special word’, which resulted in my not going back for another term. All I had to show for my time there was an artistic offering created by dabbing green poster paint through a paper doily. I’ve never liked the smell of poster paint since.
So it’s fortunate that not all children are as feeble as I was. In Looking back in the September issue of Candis, we feature plenty of happy school starters though the years…including a pair of brothers starting school in the 20s, who look somewhat smarter than today’s pupils. I’m just glad I don’t have to wear a uniform anymore. Or for that matter, a green foil-spotted binbag.