Friday, 28 August 2009

Fifty things I remember about my time at DCPS

This is part of my 50 things I remember project. Here is a list of all the 50 things posts.
  1. Building homes for tiny creatures in the roots of the oak tree in the Upper School playground with Diana Ward.
  2. Miss Ware's sausage machine -- she told us that the year above us had been so naughty that they'd worn it smooth, and it was now used as the tunnel in the Upper School Playground.
  3. The new art room in Lower School smelled of bread and honey.
  4. Mrs Cardwell, who wore pink and grey, and sometimes jade green.
  5. Horrible reading lessons in the sick room. It smelled of puke, and the curtains were drawn so we didn't look out of the window. Mrs Bea kept telling us that we -- and all young people -- were rubbish for saying 'somethink' and 'drawring'; and the others read so slowly that I wanted to shake them, and I always got told off for reading ahead. Miss Ware's group sounded much better. They were reading Willard Price's Lion Adventure. She said it was so silly that they couldn't stop laughing long enough to read it. "People just keep getting eaten... chomp."
  6. The headmaster took us one a week for drama, and he made a huge fuss of learning our names. It made me feel tremendously important.
  7. Seeing bunsen burners on the yellow flame through the window of the science lab, and being scared of using them next year.
  8. I put my name down for puppet-making, but somehow Olivia and I ended up in popmobility. Olivia almost cried. I was totally bewildered. Luckily, we were able to move across.
  9. One hot day, Guy Oxley climbed over the wall and fell out of the tree house. I saw it happen from the other side of the playing field. Later, I saw him being comforted in the library by the headmaster's wife. She was giving him a drink of water.
  10. Climbing through the hedge at the end of the playing field to escape -- but then I didn't really know what I would do next, so I climbed back up the bank.
  11. Writing secret messages and burying them under the hedge. Later, we dug them up, and all the writing had vanished!
  12. During swimming sports, Paul V and James Smith wrapped towels around their hair and strutted around.
  13. James Parsons saying that he looked forward to showing off his legs in shorts when the summer uniform came in. "They're so suntanned and sexy. My shorts, I mean."
  14. Finding dried peas in the pockets of my tracksuit -- we used to have games right before lunch on a Friday, and it was always fish, chips and peas.
  15. The horrible roast dinner on a Wednesday with dark green, bitter cabbage -- where do you find cabbage like that? -- and slices of grey leathery meat, and gravy that tasted of dusty white pepper.
  16. Reading the rude messages scratched on the desks in Mr Clark's classroom: Bone can't f*** and Bone loves Miss Liverton.
  17. Wondering what Mrs Stickland would look like if she did a forward roll. She was wearing a bright pink towling tracksuit and full make-up.
  18. My friends telling me that I would probably be offered drugs at the state school I was down for.
  19. There was a girl in my class who had the same swimming costume as me. She sometimes liked to duck people. Once I sank myself under water and saw the costume above me. I thought she was swimming over me to be spiteful -- but was just my own body reflected on the surface of the water.
  20. Mr Clark saying that so long as we were in the right place at the right time doing the right thing, everything would be OK. And that if any teacher ever told us to do something that contradicted something we'd already been told, we should come and talk with him about it.
  21. Going up the stairs to the art room felt like going into another world -- it was so messy and comfortable.
  22. We were evacuated from the CD room during high wind -- they were afraid trees would fall on the nissan huts and squash us flat. We crowded in the art room with another class and did our work on our knees.
  23. A girl from the year above ate her brick of icecream between the two wafers.
  24. In Upper School, always feeling cold during break on the dining hall playground, and being too scared to join in the running around games because it was so noisy and crowed, and I was afraid of falling over.
  25. Tennis balls flying overhead, the whole length of the playground, and wondering how boys could throw them so far, and why girls couldn't do the same.
  26. Being told off for taking off our shoes during break in the summer.
  27. Putting a large plastic spider on Mr Hendy's chair. He didn't notice.
  28. Outside Mr Hendy's classroom was a large sandbox, which he used to teach us about erosion. It was very effective -- you could see the progress of a river from young to old in a few minutes.
  29. During break, always wanting to go somewhere that the teachers couldn't see. Once we escaped into the shrubbery that surrounded the tennis courts. We wanted to do a rain dance to ensure cross country would be cancelled.
  30. Letting Latin vocab tests ruin the whole of Tuesday morning. Lucky they weren't in the afternoon, really.
  31. Gale Betts folded a piece of paper, licked the fold and it tore neatly in half. I thought that was an amazing trick. I still use it today.
  32. The rough red bricks of Moat -- we waited for the school bus outside that building, so I became very familiar with them, and with the crunchy white mineral that gathered in the holes.
  33. Always wishing that I had better kit than I did: my canvas hockey boots should have been football boots; and my tennis racket should have been graphite not wood; and to have proper school sports socks instead of plain navy ones.
  34. Sitting on the grass eating the stalks of clover leaves.
  35. Beetroot juice staining my macaroni cheese on salad day (usually Monday); and the crispy cheese on top.
  36. Sitting in the quiet playground and knitting.
  37. One day a week, our year could play boardgames in Mr Oborn's classroom -- there was always a scramble for Downfall. We used to play a lot of Cheat, but our cards kept getting lost because people would stuff them into desks.
  38. Our playing field was on the site of old orchards, and there was a tree that produced the most delicious apples: they were crisp and sour-sweet.
  39. In Lower School, trying and failing to climb trees -- I just wasn't strong enough to pull myself up the grey apple trunks.
  40. I was asked to pick up the netball bibs at the end of games; but I had to run to catch the school bus, so my friend offered to do it for me. The games teacher told me off -- even though she KNEW I caught the bus, and that it was always a scramble to get dressed at the end of games and she'd told me off for being late the week before.
  41. A little blonde girl who was so plump and pink and white and pretty -- until she opened her mouth and you could see her teeth were black and rotten.
  42. A few girls in Lower School had the grey school uniform hats. Once, some boys took one and peed in it. We heard about it in Upper School.
  43. There was a treehouse in the Upper School adventure playground. It used to have a deathslide running from it, but by the time we got there, it wasn't working, and the treehouse was supposed to be out of bounds (so naturally we tried to get up there as much as possible.
  44. Collecting scented barks and resins and leaves to make incense. We worked on it in the playground, grinding and grinding. We kept it wrapped in a handkerchief between breaks, a bristly lump in my pocket. Later, Priscilla Parish came round to my house and we wrapped it up in birch bark and burnt it. I think it smelled better before we burnt it.
  45. There was a small tree and on the bare earth under it, a spot where the ground bounced. We had a lot of fun bouncing up and down. And then one day someone decided to dig down and find out what made it bounce. It was just treeroots; and it never bounced again.
  46. A boy dropped his dinner tray because he was hurrying. He went back for more, and dropped it again.
  47. The greyish, slimey feel of the water we used to wipe the dining room tables.
  48. We were talking about what we would like for Christmas with one of the dinnerladies. She said that the only thing she really wanted was her husband (who had died earlier in the year) back.
  49. On his first day in Upper School, my brother arrived late for the bus. The teacher on duty asked why he was late. I explained that he'd lost his trousers after games, and the teacher replied dryly: "Well you should have looked after them better, Clare."
  50. Miss Ware rode into school on a motorbike, and wore turquoise nail polish. I thought she was wonderful (and still do).