On Friday night I am going ‘back to school’… that doesn’t mean travelling back to Folkestone Technical High School – but I am off to a fancy dress event of that name. However, it does concern me. I have my uniform ready and wonder if I will be transformed back to the slightly wayward 15-year-old that still lurks in my past, once I put it on.
Testing out the outfit it was worrying how easy it was to know exactly how it should all look – something cross between St Trinian’s and Grange Hill – with a fairly short skirt, white shirt with sleeves rolled up, tie loose at the neck, because my top button must be undone. And in that simple sentence I would have already broken three school rules! Don’t get me started with the holes in my fishnet tights or the height of my heels. I also won’t go into the consequences I faced for breaking those very rules at Folkestone Tech.
What is it about school uniforms – no matter what they stipulate, students have a solemn duty to flout them? I remember our terrible school cap. It was brown corduroy. Infact, I still haven’t got over my dislike of brown, since that was mainly the colour I was forced to wear for five years – and that included brown socks, brown skirt, brown jumper/cardigan and would you believe it… brown knickers (yes they did check – it was an all girls school!). The ‘pièce de résistance’ was the hat. The brown corduroy cap, so hated it was reserved for pupils in the first two years (years 7&8 in new money). For the first few months I wore it happily like many of my fellow classmates – well ‘happily’ might not be the right word. Let’s say dutifully. Then the second year came. I was far too cool to be caught wearing my cap on the mile long walk from the bus stop to school. I ducked out of view from prefects, ready to balance it on my head if we saw one passing – or even a teacher who had very unreasonably decided to walk to school. Tired of this pretence I told my friend I was going to ‘lose’ the cap – kind of deliberately. The 13-year-old theory being – if I had no cap, I couldn’t be forced to put it on. In the school car park I spotted a light blue car by a tree and placed the hat strategically underneath one of the wheels. That’s it – sorted. I no longer have a cap and therefore can’t wear it.
The next day I sauntered into school capless. And the reply to the lurking prefects was, “Sorry, I’ve lost my cap.” First lesson was maths with the gentle Mr Honey. This friendly old chap beamed at us as we walked in and after setting us some problems on the board and a truly delightful lesson – as delightful as a maths lesson can be – he called me to his desk at the end, as the rest of the class filtered out on the sound of the bell.
Oh dear, I thought, what trouble am I in now?
“Rachel,” he said, “Have you lost your cap?”
I nodded sadly, “Yes, Mr Honey, I lost it yesterday. Think I must have dropped it on the way to school.”
He beamed and dropped my crumpled cap onto the desk. “I found this by my car – your name label was inside.”
Thanks mum, for sewing name tags in all my clothes! I picked up the cap and smiled sweetly, thinking, next time I will tear out the flipping name tag!
Anyway, tomorrow night there will be no cap – unless I can find a suitable alternative. But I don’t think I can vouch for my behaviour once I slip into a school uniform again.