Friday, October 15, 2021

(No Shamin') Second Best

 Through the intricacies and mysteries that are Friday nights around here, I ended up down a rabbit-hole.

A notice had been posted on the modern day village noticeboard (where the village is composed entirely of women of a certain age and stage in life by virtue of the fact that we all attended the same school together in the same year).

Below the said notice (of an annual luncheon that is indeed quite wonderful to attend for a myriad of reasons) was a photo that had been taken of approximately one half of the possible candidates for this village that I am part of.  

Golden backdrop with "X" and "f" - and the right arm of a student encased in a navy blazer sleeve with golden trim 


It was familiar, yet not - for these girls of 37 years ago were bright and promising and resplendent in their blazers.  I scanned the faces - and the names - and realised that this was part of the shared experience of the half that I was not part of.

Signboard with 1984 Year 10A

Someone asked if anyone had a copy of the other half.

Funnily enough...

Screenshot of Ikea page with a small Kallax unit - the one we have in this story is TWICE as big 

Loose in an old photo album on the Kallax right beside me I found - 

  • a rare picture of me in the early 1970s with my father, 
  • several friends and I at "O" week adventures when I first went to University, 
  • my rowing crew, 
  • a long lost pen-pal from New Zealand in her hen-house - 
  • and THAT photo.

Now - technology, night-time and actual care factor mingled and I took an inadequate shot of the other half.

Signboard with 1984 Year 10B 


I was actually never in an "A" form in my whole high school career.

People always kindly said that it was random, form selection - but we all know they were lying.

Everybody wants to be chosen for teams early.  You learn that young.  Well, other people learned that young.  That was probably one of those lessons that I missed from hiding behind a door when they were handing them out.

Some kids learned how to make themselves likeable and popular.  They had the knack of attracting people and connecting.


I watched this behaviour a lot, and have always found it quite fascinating.

I wasn't one of those kids.  As I said, I watched.  I read.  I occasionally got brilliant ideas and sometimes would, in a mad rush of blood, act upon them and I was actually quite good - early on - of enthusing others with my visions.

The hair salon that was three solid days of exhilirating joy - until it was shut down by the fun police and their "head lice" warnings.  I cannot recall if it was someone else's gem of an idea that I fanned by managing the salon - I knew my artistic limitations, and they extend to numbers, words and a tiny bit of bossing around.

I learned that when you are the manager, you are in constant fear of the others realising that you are doing none of the hard work and you will be found out as a fraud.  This is a very fraught lesson when you are very young.

And then there was the "ball-bouncing" olympics, organized in a fit of "throw it to the wind" grandiosity that could not sustain the organisational frenzy that was the concept of a finite group of children and balls of varying sizes and ability to bounce and a world to conquer.

This was in the days prior to social media.  Be glad.

I learned then that sometimes, brilliant ideas can be enjoyed without allowing the masses to define it.

But yes.  Choosing sides.  I was never chosen on sheer ability.  I was occasionally a curve ball - or a trick pick - but for brilliance, popularity or ability to know how to play by the rules, colour between the lines and wear the right clothes - not me.

Thus 10B - with the completely out there, 6 foot tall sarcastic madame of scathing wit and a second language form mistress Miss Phillips.

Three circles with a magnifying glass and + sign, magnifying glass and - sign and two diagonal arrows going in different directions, a skanky brown background and the top of Miss P's head

Three circles with a magnifying glass and + sign, magnifying glass and - sign and two diagonal arrows going in different directions, a skanky brown background and the top of Miss P's head

 What on earth happened to us?  Admittedly, I do have to take blame for some of it.  The photo is taken on a phone, and what is more for someone who works with technology, I am a luddite when it comes to improving upon my "what the heck" artistic style thus what you get is what you get.  On top of that, the 37 year old photo is indeed looking its age - although hiding between the gradually drying cardboard and plastic it has faded and seems worn.  Apt.

A skanky brown background with "X" and "f" in circles - below which is a skinny right arm of a student in a white blouse - shirtsleeves! 

But we are in shirt-sleeves, somehow the height of 1984 fashion had laid a lighter hand on our haircuts and look like a likely bunch of misfits.

I scan the names from back row left to front row right.

When I had gone through the 10A list, my reactions were "oh, her" and "her" whereas the 10B list it was "oh, that's right" and "her?"  (you probably have to be inside my head to hear the nuances).

Another of my intriguing life skills, in addition to the lack of being able to put "A" form on my CV, is the ability to ALWAYS be in the front row of school photos.  Some might call it "below average height", but I think it is worth more.  (Yes, okay - or less.  Happy now?)

My left ear, attractive 1984 hair non-style and that ever-practical white blouse (and the navy tie - tied properly and top buttons done UP girsl) and in the background, someone else's six gore navy skirt 


So when I get to my own name, there is a addition that I had COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN ABOUT until this moment.

It said (in parenthesis) "(Vice-Captain)".

Label saying "(Vice-Captain)"

I know, right?!

That part of my history I had somehow completely erased.  

I wonder why?  (and was the "O" week photo a clue to where it went?)

So there you have it - I was chosen.  Well, chosen second.

I wonder how big a race it was?  And how I did it?  And if it formed any part of a lesson that I learned? 

Or maybe my memory got enticed by the wicked fairy "feels like a fraud" which we didn't have a diagnosis for (or a magazine article covering) and went down a rabbit hole.


  • have you ever held a position of power?
  • how much do you remember?
  • have you ever felt a fraud? and
  • what were you doing in 1984?

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

School Set Readers

Do you remember the books that you HAD to read at school?

Some were cool.  I know that we did The Crucible, The Merchant of Venice and The Great Gatsby. 

 I always tried to read the set texts the holidays before so I had read it with pleasure without the pressure of "needing to study it".

However all delicious recall of such titles and joy is completely quashed by my memory of the Year 9 English book that I didn't get forewarning of as I was moved from the English class that I thought I had (that had some cool and wonderful book) to Miss C- (I think - or was she a different teacher? - they all blur after a few decades).

Miss C (or whoever she was) had set some woeful book about a girl turning 14, finding drugs when she was babysitting and dabbling and then becoming a full addict, broken home, mental institution and postage-sized Pyrrhic hope on offer on the last page if you are willing to take the "at least she didn't die" approach. 

I can't remember the title - Unhinged or Unraveling or Jesus Wept (not the last one, I would have remembered) and the author was some bint who had an unspellable last name.

My goodness, if "Year Nine is the worst year of your life" needed a mascot, that was the book for it.

So - what were your highlights?  (or lowlights?)