Friday, January 27, 2006

Going through Changes

Story Contd

So much for seeing more of Maddie now we were both at the same school. I hadn’t reckoned on the rigid class system whereby lordly Fourth Formers ignored the existence of the Lower Thirds. People thought it strange that two sisters lived in different homes and it was assumed our parents were divorced.

I soon made friends in my own year – girls of course. Although it was a co-ed school we were segregated in class and especially out of it. At that age boys were an unnecessary nuisance. Northern lads had strange ways of attracting a girl’s attention and would flick our legs with a wooden ruler and leave little offerings of rabbit dung in one’s desk. When puberty kicked in their behaviour improved and we were more forgiving.

Apart from the boys it was like being in an Angela Brazil story: - the Latin, Prayers. Prep, vigorous games of hockey- minus the lemons at half time – and the uniform. I loved it all and was living a dream – especially in class.

MISS DREW ‘Pat Buxton – what are Barbarians?’

PAT ‘Er…little silver balls in skipping ropes.’

Another detention.

By the second year, although in the top stream I had settled lazily in the bottom third of the class and was nearing my Waterloo. Sure enough the headmaster’s secretary interrupted our History lesson to say I had to go to the headmaster’s study immediately. Mr Williams was a fearsome man and would stride around the Assembly Hall when he was in a rage, but much of it was bluster and served to put the fear of God in most pupils. The discipline was exemplary and I later came to know him as a kind man.

At this moment I was having difficulty in breathing and shaking like an aspen leaf. He told me quite firmly that as I wasn’t doing myself justice I was to be moved out of my present class A to class R which meant I had an extra year before I could take School Certificate. My tears caused him to gently pat my head but not to change his mind.

I was totally humiliated and felt disgraced. As I sobbed to my mother,

‘It’s so unfair – I’m not even in the bottom three. Why me?’

Well the other three didn’t have Meddlesome Maddie to stage manage their life. She had convinced my parents and Mr Williams that this was best for my well-being and when I found out I was mad as hell.

However this was a real kick up the back-side and was the spur I needed to work. There was much catching up to do as the syllabus was different but by the end of the year I was top of the form and managed to hold the position until I left school with a Complete Shakespeare to prove it. A salutary lesson and I have just about forgiven Maddie.

At fifteen I had a dream that Uncle Bill was standing before us with a thick rope around his waist. Quite soon after he became very ill with stomach cancer and the maiden aunts - his ’dear friends’ defied convention and took him into their home and nursed him until he died.

Then my darling Grandad had a massive stroke and despite Gran’s nursing died. Gran blamed his ‘flaming customers’. His Sunday walks were foregone to make time to deal with the endless ration books and coupons. The points system - whereby customers exchanged points for special goodies - was grossly unfair. Not enough tins – not enough points and Grandad trying to please everyone without success.

Auntie Janet married her GI and departed for the States and Gran sold the shop and went to work as housekeeper to a man in a sea-side town. On a visit to Gran one weekend I couldn’t bear seeing her reduced to looking after some stranger and insisted she came home with me. Mum and Dad were surprised, but took it in their stride and I shared my bedroom, except when she visited the States, until I left home. Maybe Maddie wasn’t the only meddlesome one.

The aunts now used to invite me to join Maddie on their holidays and it was when we were walking along the prom of the sedate seaside town that we met a young soldier on embarkation leave. He asked us about the area but we discovered later that he was visiting his father and knew the area better than we did. He and Maddie fell for each other and met every day until he had to leave. It was all quite proper with me as chaperone –‘too old for toys – too young for boys’ – I thought I’d be an ‘in between’ for ever.

It was time for Maddie to leave school. She had done brilliantly academically but also has a talent for art and had gained a place at a reputable Art school which had been evacuated to Oxbridge. She had taken to the life with gusto and during the next vac informed us that three chaps would be stopping off in our valley. They would be cycling – en route to a climbing trip in the Lake District, and one of them would be MTL.


kenju said...

Very interesting, PI!

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Continuously fascinating, Pat.

Guyana-Gyal said...

I used to read things like this in Enid Bylton books, and other British schoolgirl books but never thought they were 'real'. It's fascinating to see someone living it.

fjl said...

Maddie sounds like a special person who had a deep influence on your life.

PI said...

Kenju - Thank you - that's encouraging.

Hoss - I wonder how it compares with you at the same age?

GG I lost my enthusiasm for hockey after being bashed over my left eye with a hockey stick. Ball games aren't my bag and I even managed to smash my nose when a ball I hit at a golf driving range rebounded. Anyone for tennis?

FJL At this stage I was about to break free. Up till then I had been a willing slave. We have had a long turbulent relationship - hopefully now in more peaceful waters.

Granny said...

Waiting for the next chapter. We're doing well for now and thanks for your concern.

FTS said...

A step back in order to take a step forward. Nicely told.

Thanks for stopping by. :)

Growing Up said...

Your stories are great i'm enjoying the read.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Just catching up after a few days away - and enjoying this so much - I'm really glad you're blogging it.

PI said...

GU and Zinnia: I'm really glad i took the plunge and feel as if I am on a journey into the past -backwards. What will I do when i get there?

Guyana-Gyal said...

Oh, there's so much to write about, you'll find more, Pat.