My first head master was called Mr Tandy he was lovely. One day in assembly he gave a talk on how we shouldn't expect too many presents at Christmas, and that he wasn't going to give his three children a lot because everything was so expensive. At the time I was given 3d pocket money a day which would buy a Cadbury's flake or a beano comic. I remember going to his office and giving him three flakes I'd saved telling him 'now you'll have something to give your children for Christmas!'.
When I was six, on Saturdays I would get 4d, or 6d if lucky, to take myself off to the children's Saturday morning cinema. No adults allowed, just hundreds of screaming cheering children. We used to open the emergency exit doors to let friends who didn't have any money in. Once a year there was a show in the hall called something like, the Brooke Bond Tea children's party, where we'd be given party bags and they had chimps having a tea party on stage. Can you imagine parents letting six year old's being allowed to go on their own today?
When I was about six or seven, my mother took me to see The Wizard of Oz on ice at the Bristol Hippodrome and I came away with an illustrated comic of the story. I re-read it until I knew it by heart, then took it into school and asked the teacher if we could turn it into a play. 'Yes dear if you'd like to organise it' she replied, secure in the belief it would never see the light of day. By the end of the week miss bossy boots here had started rehearsals. One fellow classmate, round of face with round national health glasses whose name I certainly remember but am not going to write here, wanted to know why I was Dorothy - simple, it was my book. We both ended up with slapped faces and tears... rehearsals continued. It went pretty well, I only tripped over Toto the dog once, played by Robert the smallest boy in the class. Mr Tandy told my mother I was obviously destined for the stage. Hah!
When I was eight we moved to the other side of the county and my next headmaster was called Mr Angel, he of the white wispy hair, bald pate and comb over. Mr Angel used to hold art classes in his office for about 8 of us girls who showed an aptitude for art. YES I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE THINKING... and it would never be allowed now a-days. But Mr Angel was an angel, imagine the character actor Alastair Sim in tweeds with leather patches on the elbows and a cravat... He taught us things like marbling, basket weaving and printing.
Then it was time for BIG SCHOOL... just girls this time. The uniform was red white and grey - a big grey felt hat, pinafore, blazer and Burberry type mac, a white shirt and socks, a red tie, cardigan and big red Bridget Jones knickers.
Our head mistress was Miss Nichols, very small, very sweet and totally obeyed, I think she had a soft spot for me. One day as we queued for lunch, she walked down the line inspecting our uniforms telling girls to have their skirt hems lowered or tie hair back from their faces. When she reached me she stopped and told me to button up my cardigan. 'I can't Miss Nichols' I told her, 'Why not? ' she asked, 'Because my mother hasn't sewn the buttons on yet' I replied. She pursed her lips to stop her self from laughing and moved on. When she found me standing outside a classroom having been sent there for whistling she sent me back in. When ever the teachers asked who was whistling I'd look around puzzled, never realising it was me. My friends thought it was hilarious but I was totally unaware of doing it. Her second in command was Miss Winter, who was so strict we were all afraid of her, there was a rumour that they lived together but I've no idea if this was true.
In fact several of the teachers were rather interesting. The lovely RE teacher was an ex nun, had a shaved head and wore a full dirndl skirt decorated with a map of the world. She spent most of her time listening patiently as we questioned her on the Bible and aliens (we'd all been reading Erich Däniken's book Chariots of the gods).
Miss Burroughs the maths teacher was like a caricature of the teacher from hell, we all thought she'd come out of the army, literally barking orders at you. Some of us thought she was a transvestite, she was stick thin, always wore what looked like a Chanel suit, bright red lipstick and had a tight beehive hair do.
The sports teacher never wore anything other than shorts and had obviously never heard of unwanted hair removal, which unfortunately resulted in a rather unsightly growth of hair to half way down her leg. Sorry, I may have overstepped the mark there, but it had to be said. Sports was quite big in the school, if it was considered a sport - they taught it. Hockey was probably the sport I liked least, hence the sport I never had a big part in. It always seemed to be foggy when we played, and we used to be miles down the other end lost from view of all the action, standing on the sides chatting while all this muffled shouting was going on at the other end, then we'd get caught out as girls would suddenly appear from nowhere and hurtle past us to score a goal.
There was only one man in the school Mr Ensor, he taught science with all the enthusiasm of a man sentenced to life imprisonment. If you showed any interest in the subject and asked a question he would say 'Don't ask questions just do what I ask you to do'.
All the female teachers were Miss's except maybe the biology teacher miss / Mrs Williams, I can't remember. When it came time for her to teach us the facts of life, she decided to show us a life size doll to demonstrate the point of 'not knowing the facts of life!' She gave me the doll and asked what was the most important thing to remember when holding a baby. 'Well' I said 'you have to hold it carefully and gently'... at which point I pulled it's arm off, there was a stunned silence. You know that time when you get a fit of the giggles and no matter what happens you can't stop laughing, even way after the time you should have stopped laughing.
A bit like this really.
green book - unknown / all St Trinians drawings by the artist Ronald Searle /3d / Alastair Sim photo - google search / children at the cinema photo - Wayne F. Miller