I left school at sixteen, having failed my Cookery GCSE-equivalent. I forgot
the sausage meat on the scotch egg. It was either nerves, or I was
introducing the suggestion of a bread crumbed hardboiled egg as a
I walked out the gates of Maidstone Technical School for Girls with
joyful euphoria and went north, past the Watford Gap and on to two years
of chef's training and four years of preparing for the day that I was a
successful Hotel Manager.
My plan was that I would be so successful; I would pay
for a bookkeeper and paint my nails, whilst they prepared the month end
accounts. I hated bookkeeping - the balance sheet never seemed to balance.
I'm not saying my teenage school years were happy ones. I'm sure I'm not alone in being unable to classify them as being 'the best days of my life'.
For all of us, it was certainly a period of change - from childhood to adulthood - weird things were happening. We were growing and filling, within weeks we completed a metamorphosis that would put David Banner to shame.
Spots were erupting overnight, no matter how much Clear-sodall you used. Wiping our faces with doused cotton wool balls (which were as effective as refreshing a postered-wall with postage stamps), and checking the dirt to see if it looked the same as it did in the TV ad ... even after washing. If we (or our parents) were really flush, we'd finish with the flesh coloured spot cream, marketed as invisible, but as discreet as swamping your face with camomile lotion.
We started noticing boys - youths, as they now were. Strangely gangly and clearly not using Clear-sodall. We were relaxing our expectations. Jackie (we could read her like a book, or so we thought) told us that 'personality and a sense of humour were far more important than looks'. I took notice, thankfully, because it would have been a wholly different outcome, if I had waited for my dream to find me. I was less of a daydreamer and more interested in shang-a-lang - which unfortunately led to a love of tartan (retained) and strange looking trousers (discarded).
It was the chance discovery of the photo above, that inspired this post.
Although, after leaving school, I marched forcefully onto a new life, when I came to stop and look back at what I'd left behind, it
was too late. All the other girls had moved on, left, themselves. They'd started
their new lives and disappeared into the mists of time, probably taking on a new surname too.
After the initial euphoria of Friends Re-united, the publics' exultation waned following the publicity of broken marriages, due to link-ups with childhood sweethearts. We questioned if those school friends were so important, why did we lose touch in the first place? Was the site just a Pandora's Box that shouldn't be opened?
My reason had involved a distance of about 250 miles, becoming adept at failing my driving test (not a help when trying to traverse semi-rural Kent), and the embarrassment of student poverty.
did become a Hotel Manager, by the way, but as I was surrounded by chefs, I never have had to make any more Scotch eggs, either.