Monday, 21 September 2009

50 Things I Remember about Cranbrook School

This is part of my 50 things I remember project. Here is a list of all the 50 things posts.
  1. Mr Badcock's "Now boys, bring the brains to bear."
  2. The smell of preserved creatures in jars in the biology lab.
  3. Mr Gunn telling me off during A Level biology for staring out of the window... messing around with Nick Robinson... weaving with strips of paper when I should have been cutting and gluing.
  4. Always being cold in winter because we weren't allowed to wear t-shirts under our school blouses, and no-one in their right mind would ever sink to wearing a vest.
  5. Runching our grey school socks down - because who the hell wears their socks pulled up?
  6. Feeling as if games lessons were specifically designed to humiliate: the boys standing at the sports hall window to watch us getting into the swimming pool; being forced to do a dance routine to some stupid Madonna song; aerobics; mixed volleyball.
  7. The nailpolish smell of esters in chemistry.
  8. Doing a rubbish physics practical called 'The Great Heat Race' - each team was given a substance to heat until it boiled. We had washing-up liquid. Clearly not going to win.
  9. I must have wasted literally years of my life waiting for mother to come and pick me up at the end of school.
  10. Looking around the Queen's Hall during assembly and wondering how many of us would get out alive if there was a fire because there were 200 more people in the room than was permitted by fire regulations.
  11. The teachers sweeping on to the stage in their gowns. They looked the teacher in the Bash Street Kids.
  12. PaulV walking me and Katie through the churchyard and carrying our bags.
  13. Telling my tutor I wasn't happy, then feeling betrayed when she told my parents.
  14. Being afraid to use a school labcoat in case someone had put something disgusting in the pocket.
  15. The PCs in the computer room were 286s (the monitors had red, blue, black and white). If you were really lucky, you'd get to use a 386.
  16. Mrs Kerten was guaranteed to break the computer room. There was a printer that brought the entire network down if you switched it off.
  17. The cheese and bacon whirls at lunch still are one of the nicest things I've ever eaten. Also, the treacle sponge. I still miss them.
  18. Afew times a term our house was on duty. When we were in the fourth year, this meant replenishing the salad bar in the dining room. There never was anything to replenish because they put it all out at the start of lunch. But we still had to go and do the duty - we got in trouble if we didn't.
  19. Making a chocolate cake with yoghurt icing in home ec. Katie, Miri and I ate mine because the lunch queue was so badly behaved that the prefects sent us all away.
  20. Being scared to queue up for lunch because some of the boys were so rough -- they used to run at the queue so that you were crushed against the wall.
  21. We had a French teacher who thought that Alex Lightstone was actually called Alex Lighthouse. "Aaaalex, chewing goom, poot it away, dans la pourbelle." She told my parents that we were the loudest, rudest, nosiest, cleverest class she had ever taught. She was a very good teacher, too.
  22. During a year nine experiement to measure the amount of carbon dioxide exhaled by maggots, one of our class' maggots managed to crawl into a capillary tube. GROSS.
  23. A girl in our class sitting, head bowed so her straight blonde hair fell like a tent over a biology text book, while the rest of us dissected ox lungs.
  24. During the dissection of the ox lungs, we were told to use a tube to blow into them to see them inflate. One boy inhaled by accident.
  25. My brother putting his hand through a window during a fight while waiting for the bus.
  26. The monsterous unfairness of us having to wait three quarters of an hour after the end of school because our bus was used by another school first. I can't believe that no-one tried to negotiated a better service for us. Or, indeed that it never occurred to one of us to make a fuss about it.
  27. Mr Gunn said that today he was going to give us some notes on coitus. Nick Robinson whispered "What's that?" and I said: "Bonking." Mr Gunn heard and said "...coitus, or indeed bonking as Clare rather earthily puts it."
  28. Dying bits of cloth bright yellow in chemistry.
  29. Discovering during art that nothing awful happened when I used a sewing machine. I had a lot fun embellishing with silver thread a batik design inspired by tomatoes, oranges and peppers.
  30. Wednesday afternoon activities: rambling was an excuse to get out into the countryside and walk very quickly back to school.
  31. Swimming sports caused all the girls to get their periods simultaneously.
  32. The tuckshop lady said: "Don't worry about that now. Your figure will come through when you go to university." And she was right.
  33. I really liked a girl called Celia because she had thick round glasses that were forever falling down her nose; and because she carried her pencils in a round shortbread tin. I don't thinks she was very happy boarding, though.
  34. Marvelling in year nine woodwork when, following the teachers simple instructions, a pencil box appeared under my hands.
  35. The overwhelming urge to yell "Fire" in a crowded between lessons corridor.
  36. In year nine, the labs in the west wing were brand new and really beautiful. I loved the bright cleaness of it, and the generously sized rooms and corridors: the rest of the school sometimes felt as if it had been made for pixie people who were afraid of daylight. I liked being told to be CAREFUL of the lab benches in the west wing: they were made from single 15m slabs of wood.
  37. Feeling secretly jealous of the guys in the CCF because they got to go on camp and mess around in a hovercraft. I never joined because I thought I'd be rubbish at parade (I still can't tell left from right).
  38. The endless, endless poetry -- both taught in English and written by me. Endless.
  39. A teachers told me I was let down by my Godawful handwriting.
  40. I was mocked by my classmates for suggesting that in the future school children would all carry small computers round with them.
  41. The boy who sat next to be in geography pushed his homework over to me the day I forgot mine.
  42. Mr Hartley leaving the classroom through one door and returning through another. He used to tell us stories of the things he used to be allowed to do to pupils (mostly throwing board rubbers and chalk at them). He boasted that he could leave his classes alone for long periods because they never knew when or from where he would return.
  43. Sitting in the lecture theatre on a rainy day - I thought that it must be a bit like that bit in Catcher in Rye where he talks about going into the museum.
  44. Discovering that with computers, you could do things that you'd been able to do since you were about ten, and people would think it was wonderful. For my GCSE project I built a little point-and-click adventure using Visual Basic, and illustrated it with my own pictures done in Paint.
  45. Trying to add rude books to the library catalogue in the name of a teacher I didn't like.
  46. The lobby in the library would always be crowded at break with small boys: there was a copy of Encarta, with a general knowledge game on it.
  47. Seeing a crowd of boys filling the pavement and a smart-looking lady trying to edge past. One of the boys accidentally spilt his can of drink on her. She looked appalled and told him watch it. One of his friends shouted after her: "His name's David."
  48. Spending Friday lunch times at choir practice because we'd been told it was important to have interests outside schoolwork.
  49. We were each given an element - we had to produce an A4 sized poster about it to be stuck on a giant periodic table. I got iron, but swapped it with another girl for one of the rare elements because it sounded more interesting. But what the fuck do you say about a metal so radioactive it can't exist for more than a few moments. I still wish I'd kept iron.
  50. The crunch of a mercury thermometer breaking, and Dr Lewis sending to the prep room for some flowers of sulphur. "Don't use it as a stirrer!"


  1. I've never heard of 'flowers of sulphur' - fabulous name. I remember being in hospital as a child and sometimes the nurses would shatter the mercury thermometers as they tried to shake them down.

  2. Hello

    Awesome post, just want to say thanks for the share