At a celebration to mark the fact that we left school many decades ago, there was an “open mic” session where we were invited to share a story from our schooldays. I told the following story:
I was in the street not wearing, but carrying, my hat – almost at the top of the list of “punishable misdemeanours” – and, what pisses me off? It was The Principal (TP) who caught me committing this heinous crime. Conversation went something like this (it was over 50 years ago):
TP: Good afternoon Miss Darcy
Me: Good afternoon Ma’am. (Will she notice the absence of my hat?)
TP: You aren’t wearing your hat.
Me: No Ma’am it’s wet. (Oops she did notice)
TP: How did it get wet? It’s not raining.
Me: It blew off my head and landed in a puddle Ma’am.
TP: Your hat has elastic which should be under your chin, how did it blow off?
Me: I wasn’t wearing the elastic under my chin, Ma’am. (It looked totally dorky and we all stuck the elastic into the crown as soon as we cleared the school precinct.)
TP: You are outside the college grounds without your hat and gloves. (Drat she noticed I wasn’t wearing the gloves either because they too were wet from the puddle).
Me: Yes, Ma’am.
TP: Kindly put your hat on your head, put on your gloves and join me for detention for the next four Fridays.
Me: Yes, Ma’am. (It didn’t dawn on me to argue that my hat and gloves were wet and should stay where they were.)
My conversation with my Mother explaining why I had detention was in a similar vein, although I may have put a different slant on the conversation for my loving mother’s ears and opined that it wouldn’t have happened if Old Fishface hadn’t been on the street at the same time as her darling daughter.
Did the Mother jump to my defence? Agree I had been poorly treated? Demand my detention be rescinded? Demand an apology from The Principal? Contact the family legal advisers, to sue the school and The Principal for the damage to my self-esteem?
Not on your Nelly and it really p***es me off that the Mother gave me a second lecture, much harsher than The Principal’s, about how hard she and Dad worked to send me to a good school so I would get a better education than they had (you all know the one, page 5 in the Good Parenting Handbook circa 1940/60).
Secondly, she took me to task for referring to The Principal as Old Fishface! How dare I vilify this woman who had spent her whole life educating girls to become outstanding women. She was to be honoured, not called names by a girl who couldn’t even obey a simple rule to wear elastic under her chin. I should have known better, of course, when it came to discipline my parents and the school were in total agreement.
Laughter and head nodding from the class of ‘65.
The current Principal, an alumnus herself, albeit 25 or so years after me (The Principal is so young these days), advised they didn’t have detention on Friday afternoon now. Then she asked if I would speak at an assembly to give an insight into how things have changed in 50 years. She had the gall to tell me it is a privilege for today’s students to have one of their “living treasure” alumni share their oral histories.
I told her in no uncertain terms that I’m not a living treasure! I’m the rebel who still doesn’t wear the elastic under my chin! I wear stiletto heels, red lipstick, drink Bolly and stay out after dark! I said I’d get back to her when I was old!
The Principal from half a century ago, now a really old lady even by my definition, reiterated the request, so I spoke to an assembly of over 400 students, from years 10 to 12. They made me very welcome and asked me questions not only about the school in the 1960’s but about the Women’s Movement and the Vietnam War.
It really pisses me off how much I enjoyed being an oracle – maybe like The Principal, the police, and politicians, we “living treasures” are getting younger every year?