Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I was very busy working yesterday when the appearance of a flickering, shadowy rectangle in the bottom corner of my computer screen caught my eye. An e:mail from a name I hadn't seen in about 15 years, heralding a big event - The Convent Reunion! Log on to Friends Reunited to see more! Quickly abandoning my urgent project I logged on to read my message: 'Fiona Sykes is organising a Convent School Reunion on the 18th October and you are invited, 100 people confirmed already, see attached list' - quick click and there before my eyes swam the ghosts of my past. I read Fiona's profile, she had been a big friend of my sister Claire and a typical Convent School party animal, what high jinks was she up to now, what decimation of society had she left trailing in her wake? 'Teacher, married to a farmer with two children, attending bible class twice a week and NO! not as some joker has written on my profile an alcoholic single mother of 4, between jobs in East Kilbride'. Good, she's still got her sense of humour then, promising for the reunion.
Claire and I were sent by our parents to The Convent because of the radical politics of the Headmaster of our local comprehensive school, El Vel did not concur with free love or drugs and so it was we were sent to an altogether more austere place of learning. I was 11 and Claire was 13 and we were both a lot more interested in the concept of free love and drugs than we were single sex, religious schools. I threatened a violent suicide with a potato peeler, Claire ran away to my Grandmother's bungalow two streets from ours, all to no avail. We were measured up for the brown tunics, brown and gold ties, brown hats and yes, the cliche to top it all off, thick brown knickers. Off we went.
We were both very happy there in the end. Claire was the 80 year old Headteacher's pet and used to teach maths to 70 children at once if the Headteacher was off sick or away on urgent religious business. I was in a riotous class of 38 that became notorious by the end of our o'level year; two girls were expelled for putting their 'details' on a card in public phone boxes along with the Convent telephone number and the legend 'Sister Philomena is very, very cross with you'.
The school tradition of getting the thickest girl in the class to ask Sister Elizabeth what oral meant in the sex education class (mainly based around rabbits) was passed down to poor, dim Susan O'Leary who duly received the time-honoured response of 'that, Susan O'Leary is for animals and you are in detention!' We were also advised before the Christmas festive season by Sister Elizabeth that 'if you girls are attending any parties where there will be boys who may switch the lights off have the courage to stand up and turn that light back on in the name of Jesus!'
Happy, happy days and lovely interesting people. I clicked on the 'yes, I'm interested' button and went back to my work with a smile on my face.