Old Girl Eva shares with us several distinct memories of her time at School, of headmistresses, teacher gossip, cats, dogs and earthworms!
"The whole School used to line up outside Miss Varley's room at the end of term, and she would shake each pupil by the hand and speak to them by name - quite a feat of memory. The tradition was discontinued, I think the year before I left, as there was bad behaviour on the part of some of the girls waiting - I did think, even then, what a great pity that was, and how discourteous.
"The second memory concerns Miss Makin, our English Mistress, who used always to enter the Classrom with the words: "Good morning Fourth/Fifth Form - subject, object, object of a preposition, in apposition and complement." As I expect is normal, Miss Makin seemed of an indeterminate age, she wore quite severe tailored suits, with plain blouses and flat shoes. There was a buzz in Assembly one morning when her suit was softened by a frilly blouse, her shoes were more feminine and - she wore make-up! This was, of course, discussed amongst my classmates and we speculated that she had a suitor. I think this was almost in my last term; I never discovered whether our supposition was correct.
"The day we took the Biology exam was very hot. We were to be given a specimen which we had to identify and to that end each pupil had a small glass dish on her desk. One of the Invigilators, possibly Mrs Jones, asked her colleague, very audibly, if she had brought in the earthworms; I trust no one failed in the identification.
"In, I think, the Lower VIth, we were in one of the classrooms off the cloisters and our Mistress was Miss Grosser, who taught Art and Woodwork (we made a book trough). We had heard that Miss Grosser did not like cats and so the School cat was secreted in the classroom and then released. No one had realised that the poor Mistress was, in fact, terrified of cats – she backed into a corner, may even have stood on a desk, and was almost paralysed. We were, of course, very sorry and the cat was quickly removed – to the best of my recollection, nothing was said about the incident.
"Miss Woodhead, a rather timid Mistress who taught Scripture, was troubled by girls hiding in cupboards with sliding doors, who then possibly made noises. It seems she was so upset she cried. I do not remember that myself, but a School friend I spoke with recently remembered it very clearly. Maybe just a few girls were involved as our Form Mistress, Miss Faulkner, said that, as an apology, Miss Woodhead had to be taken to the Theatre Royal to see a performance of Wild Violets, and my friend was one of those going to the theatre.
"At one period the Physics Mistress, Miss Aikinhead, brought her two Bedlington terriers to School. During lessons they were kept in an empty room, but when she walked them along the Science corridor I remember the sound of their nails on the floor.
"I remember a high point for the whole School was when Fred Perry came to give us some group coaching and tips to improve our tennis. I did not have a great deal of opportunity for tennis whilst at School, but I still remember his advice when preparing for the forehand was to 'go over the hill and pick up the daisy'. I still play tennis and, from time to time, mention to fellow players that I had coaching from Fred Perry.
"During my time at School the boys had no dining room, so they used ours after we had finished. I remember that we were cleared from the lower cloisters and interaction was discouraged. The cloakrooms and the upper cloisters were locked so that girls could not call from the windows to boys below, but some did manage to hide in there so that they could watch the boys from the window. My friend thinks that girls were allowed on the grass by the lower cloisters and it was possible to pass notes discreetly – maybe at different times we were both correct."