School days

I’ve just started to read Clare Morrall’s ‘After the Bombing’. Set during the 1942 Baedeker raids on Exeter it is dedicated to all Maynard girls past and present. Now I’m not quite old enough to remember the blitz but was privileged enough to attend The Maynard School between 1966 and 1972. So Clare’s novel has set me thinking about my early school days.

My memory is not the best and although I’m only what I guess would be classified as ‘middle aged’, I now feel compelled to jot down what I do remember before it’s lost forever.

Sadly I didn’t keep in contact with any of my class mates. Primarily I think because I was moved to another school, Mount St Mary, in the autumn of 1972. This was down to a combination of lack of academic achievement on my part and my mother’s inability to stump up the high fees commanded for such a prestigious private school having been tragically widowed. My farther was just 57 when he died from a massive coronary whilst on the golf course.

Clearly I was either a spoilt brat, or my mother so terrified of further loss, that I was ferried to and from school in the realative safty of a taxi for the remainder of my time at The Maynard!

So what do I remember? Well funnily enough my clearest and best memories  were in fact the food! Yes we had the free school milk, for a while, but we also had pastries and buns at break and the most amazing school dinners ever. Lovely casseroles, liver and bacon (I’d been brought up on offal like tripe so was well up for these delicacies), and we had pudding too. Various tray-bake jam tarts with custard, semolina, lemon steamed sponge and Christmas, pudding with the obligatory sixpence buried deep within for one lucky diner (per table) to discover. No health and safety back in those days. Just simple pleasures. We survived and no one, to my knowledge, ever choked on a small silver coin.

Miss Sparkes was my ‘Kindergarten’ teacher and a lovely lady. Sadly I didn’t get on so well with many of the others. In particular Miss Saunders, who I felt for sure – had it in for me. Looking back she was probably just frustrated at my total lack of concentration ‘needs to work harder’. 

I participated in sport, which was never my forte. Netball I remember. Wing attack (or was it defence?) and I once won the 100 meter sprint on sports day. And the sack race but I had no stamina for longer runs or cross country. We used to join rubber bands together for French skipping.  One lunch break we decided to see how dizzy we could get by spinning around on the spot. Pretty sick actually. I was no stranger to the ‘rest room’. I seemed to be a sickly child.

What I did love was art and music. My parents paid for me to learn piano – right up until they were told I couldn’t master reading music but played by ear. Singing was what I liked to do. I was part of the choir in which I took enormous pleasure. The highlight was performing ‘Captain Noah and his Floating Zoo’ on the stage of the Barnfield Theatre. We even cut an LP.  Sadly I nolonger have it though.

Art was my favourite subject. My rearing Lipizzan horse painting once graced the walls of ‘Transition’. I felt Mrs Johnson our art teacher was the only one who really understood me. Dying and carding fleece to weave into fabulous woven creations. Sculpting, painting and drawing were all I seemed to have any aptitude for. Not academia.

Maths was my nemesis.

And so with my move to the ‘new school’ I lost contact with my ‘best friend’ Gillian, with Catherine, Susie, Raynu, Clare… sad really. I’m sure this would never happen today with mobile phones and social media.

Looking forward to reading ‘After the Bombing’ and perhaps it will resurface  further memories of my old school.


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