Thursday, 27 September 2012

trip down memory lane

This was the wonderful place where I spent 7 glorious years, studying, making lifelong friends and having my inner self carved out to set me on my journey into adulthood.
This place was (and still is) Lancaster Girls' Grammar School. The first choice school of any parent (along with the Boys Grammar)and I was lucky enough to pass my 11+ exam with high enough marks to have my place confirmed with approval from my primary headmaster.

I also had a set of footsteps to follow in, older sister Rachel was already making her mark there. My older cousin was there and my fathers sisters had all gone there.
Now LGGS today is massively different from the LGGS I first walked into. Then...
All the teachers wore black gowns, the uniform was absolutely sensible and completely adhered to and the list of do's and don'ts given to your parents was a mile long.
Starting from head to foot,
If your fringe touched your eyebrows it needed clipping back and if your hair touched your collar it had to be tied back. Absolutely no make-up or jewellery (including earrings) was permitted, even at sixth form level.
You had to have a white shirt and sensibly knotted school tie, covered by a navy blue v neck jumper all under the navy blue (and LGGS approved style) blazer.
You then HAD to wear the LGGS style 6 panel navy blue skirt that had to touch the middle of your knee, so that upon kneeling it touched the floor. If it didnt reach the floor it was shockingly too short, gathered on the floor it was too long.
You could then wear navy tights or socks, or white socks (and THAT WAS IT) and your shoes had to be black, completely sensible with no heel or any fashiony bits stuck on.
Your outer coat had to be ONE inch longer than your skirt and only navy blue. You had to wear the school scarf when wearing your outer coat as your blazer badge would not be visible hence any stalking teacher en route to bus stops could tell a grammar school girl from any other.

Ooh how I longed to go to Riply High School where you could choose the colour of your skirt and shirt!

And we learned respect from day one. Whenever a teacher or a sixth former walked into your classroom, you were out of your seat until told to sit back down. Our desks were in single file rows, and you sat in alphabetical order within your form. I was in 'L' form as my surname started with S. There were 3 house groups, J K and L and your surname initial's position in the alphabet determined which house you were in.
You held the door for anyone entering and you stepped into the sides of the corridor should a teacher or sixth former walk by.

Now this was drummed into me so much, that even when I started working for the bank, an ex deputy headmistress (who everyone was both afraid of and in awe of) came along to do her banking I would leap out of her way and hold the doors open. Now she probably had no idea who I was, but I certainly still revered her. Good old Mrs Rigby.

Now this may sound strict, but as we all looked the same and wore the same and were theoretically as clever as each other we all became friends with each other. We were destined to be models of society. All educated to a level capable of securing a place at university. We were regarded as snobs but it didnt matter, we were proud of being part of LGGS.
I was proud to wear that uniform, proud to be paraded on our speech day in front of parents and businesses alike, proud to be a Lancaster Girls' grammar girl. I can still sing our school song and the main hymns that made up our assemblies and can recite several tenses of verbs in latin (that was compulsory for at least a year if you were in the top third of the year)and OK I may not have ended up the straight A student I was capable of being and I didn't go to university as I chose a career in Banking (job probably mine because of having LGGS on my CV) and I wouldn't really say I was a model of society but how I've lived my life is definitely down to the principles I gained from LGGS. I can safely say I can make a papier mache hand puppet, & draw an outline of Lancaster city rooftops (all thanks to Miss Bell) make pineapple upsidedown cake and mixed grill and stuffed trout courtesy of Miss Counsell, and chat to an elderly stranger courtesy of the voluntary but compulsory community service lol

I won't add a recording of me singing the school song as that would be quite terrible but here are the words. No other school in Lancaster has their own song (the boys Grammar didn't either)but I think they have a lovely meaning.

In our small world upon the hill
We live, we live together.
And half forget, that good or ill,
A wider world awaits us still,
And draws us thither.
Yet though in quiet we sojourn,
To know our guiding light we learn,
Our guiding light we learn.

And this alone shall be our light,
The lamp of beauty, truth and right.

Friendship our pathway has prepared
With joy, with joy and laughter.
The binding ties of secrets shared,
Of common tasks, delights compared.
For ever after
Will draw us close when we discern
The light that here we first saw burn,
That here we first saw burn.

And this alone shall be our light,
The lamp of beauty, truth and right.

Then if we part or if we meet,
Yet keep, yet keep we ever,
This thought of strength with which to greet,
Coming of victory, or defeat.
That time shall never
Dim our fair memories, or turn
To darkness light we made to burn,
The light we made to burn.

It shines in darkness, and in light,
The lamp of beauty, truth and right

Ok, now for some reality. Having an older sister at school had its good points and bad points. I was the only first year that work ankle socks year round as I was absolutely not allowed to wear knee socks and be on the same bus as her. I had to walk about 5 feet behind her on the long walk from the bus station up to school. I had to pay everone's fare onto the bus, and asking for 15 returns and handing over 15 lots of 11p's was no fun. I was absolutely not allowed anywhere near her at school as she was a grown up 4th year and I was a lowly 1st year, tho her friends snatched me into their classroom at any opportunity. Now the good points, all my first year friends were in awe that I was allowed into a 4th year classroom (and sixth form as my older cousin was a sixth former then)and i got the low down on some of the teachers an their habits. None of the teachers believed I had an older sister as we looked nothing alike. I think though that the fact we both went to LGGS built our friendship as sisters too. She is absolutely my best friend and my natural choice for childbirth, hospital visits and my brick wall for helping me through Harry's predicament.

I know LGGS is unrecognisable now, the uniform is relaxed, the sixth formers can wear JEANS, YES JEANS, and the school itself has undergone a major facelift and rebuild and none of the teachers are still there but the essence of LGGS remains. Talking now to any pupil you still get the same feeling of pride coming through and I hope it is still there in 6 years time as I would dearly love Madeleine to go.

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