MY GLAISDALE SAGA
(Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Glaisdale)
By Leanne Mills
Our 21st Century world is vastly different from what we knew as youngsters attending Glaisdale School during the 1970s. The internet, ever faster home computers, frighteningly realistic PC games, the enormous variety of satellite TV, the mobile phone revolution, and the dark day when our lives were changed forever after airliners were deliberately plunged into the World Trade Center, were unimaginable back then. No, this is not the world we knew! When I attended Glaisdale during 1972-75, men were still walking on the moon, the new, state-of-the-art pocket calculators were the size of a paperback book, most TVs were still black and white (and closedown was at midnight), mobile phones existed only in science fiction, glam rock was all the rage (the Spice Girls were mere babes), and teachers still ruled over you with the slipper and the cane.
My name is Leanne Mills and, courtesy of Chris's nostalgic site, I'd like to turn the clock back some thirty years and share some of my Glaisdale memories. I have based this article on diaries I kept at the time, which, though they mainly record the personal thoughts and feelings of a pubertal girl, do feature many interesting entries on Glaisdale.
THE FIRST DAY Thursday, July 27, 1972: Today, broke up for the long holidays. Yippee! But I'm a bit unhappy. In September I go to a bigger school called Glaisdale. I do hope I make new friends there. I hope the teachers will be friendly. I shall miss Mr. Morgan. So goes my diary entry for the last day at Glenbrook, the junior school down the road from Glaisdale, and where the tall, good-looking Mr. Morgan had been my tutor. That long summer I felt much anxiety over the new school. I was only 11 years old and my family lived on a cul-de-sac off the busy Wigman Road. It was in mid-August that mum bought my school uniform, which comprised a black blazer (optional), grey skirt, navy blue sweater and light blue blouse together with a blue striped tie, and told me to try it on in order to check that everything fit properly. Once she was satisfied and left me gazing in the mirror at my new apparel, I found myself pondering the fact that I was growing up…on the one hand I felt pride that in several short years I would no longer be merely a girl but a woman; on the other hand however I experienced great anxiety, because I was moving into uncharted territory. And I was so shy and withdrawn. As a child I was secure and comfortable - how on earth would I cope as an adult in the big world just opening up? The profound physical changes brought about by puberty were frightening enough. With that the uniform came off and I refused to look at it again until the big day.
Tuesday, September 5: Tomorrow I start at the big school. Feel frightened and don't want to go. Think I will run away from home instead. Dad says not to worry. Listen to his new Dvorak record with him. Cheer up. It was Dvorak's 'New World' Symphony I heard that sunlit evening, and I suddenly recalled that Mr. Morgan would often play this piece during assembly at Glenbrook. Isn't it funny how coincidences always seem to come together during crucial times in one's life?
So came Wednesday, September 6th A day of crisp autumn sunshine. Feeling somewhat self-conscious in my new uniform and carrying my PVC Mary Quant bag I set off along Glenbrook Crescent and before long was stepping through Glaisdale's blue-painted doors (the girls' entrance was separate from the boys'). As I thread my way through the seemingly endless maze of corridors, searching anxiously for my registration group headed by the bearded Mr. Wheat, I felt sick as a dog. This new school was huge (getting lost was common in those early days), the teachers who strode past looked stiff and strict, the shouting and the yelling from the numerous classrooms positively alarming, unfamiliar faces pressed against the interior windows peering at me and my counterparts from Glenbrook, some with curious eyes, others more hostile. I wanted to turn round and leave immediately. More, I longed for the friendly, even family-like environment of the school I had left the previous July. But those days were gone forever.
When I finally entered Mr. Wheat's domain and found a seat at the back where I could hide, I was fighting to control the tears that were welling in my eyes. After Mr. Wheat had ticked off our names for the first time, everyone lazed around. Now it seemed to me that the other kids from Glenbrook (including those from Robert Shaw and William Sharp) were enjoying this new experience. Was I the only one feeling tearful then? Perhaps there were other girls who felt the same but were just keeping it to themselves. I dared not show my emotions, I would have a good cry when I got back home, I said to myself. Meanwhile Kevin Goddard from Glenbrook found great amusement turning the gas taps on and off (Mr. Wheat taught chemistry), asking the tutor if they were indeed gas taps. "Yes, so stop playing with them or you'll gas us all", Mr. Wheat replied and there were howls of laughter. WHAT?! I didn't find that funny at all. So now I might even meet an early death from gas fumes, I thought (!). God, I want to go home!!! As we trotted from one lesson to another the laid-back approach became the general pattern for today and the rest of the week - we were simply being encouraged to get to know our tutors, one another and to settle in. When the hometime bell finally rang at 4.15 p.m. to a chorus of "Hooray!" and chaotic chattering, Deputy-Head Mr. Barrett (who had been looking after us at the end of this momentous day), growled, "The bell is a sign for you to go home, it isn't a sign for you to talk!"
The moment my front door was opened, I was straight upstairs to the security of my room and my cuddly bears where I wept. Dad came in and comforted me, telling me the way I felt was normal and that it might be six months before I settled in at my new school.
THE FIRST TERM
I managed to cheer up and gallantly took on Thursday and Friday, looking forward to the weekend when we were due to attend my grown-up cousin's wedding. I remember the scene inside the church well and Beth looked stunning in her ivory satin dress, thick layers of taffeta flowing outwards like the waters of a fountain. As she came by with her groom in his flared trousers, we smiled at one another then she flicked up her eyes as if to say I feel such a fool dolled up with everyone looking at me! At the reception we danced to the pop records of the time, such as 'School's Out' by Alice Cooper. Very topical I thought, since I wanted my new school to be 'blown to pieces'. Then, Beth's younger sister Elaine put on a disc featuring a song by an up and coming star named Donny Osmond. It was called 'Puppy Love'. I didn't think much of it at first, but when I saw him singing it on 'Top Of The Pops' the following Thursday evening, I was hooked and became an ardent Osmond fan. With that I began having the magazine 'Jackie' on a regular basis, vowing to keep all the editions featuring Donny and his brothers for the rest of my life. I worshipped the colour pin-ups like pagan gods, and no-one else was allowed to even touch them. I also followed their cartoon series on TV. When the Osmonds came over on their UK tour I saved my pocket money to purchase a ticket for their London concert (I think 'Jackie' was offering tickets via an advert) but unfortunately demand was so intense they quickly sold out. I was most upset and it took me a long time to get over that. Ah, well. Back at school I had been placed in class 1A2 and things began to settle down. Glaisdale was divided up into four units, or houses, which were known as Wollaton, Trent, Sherwood and Castle. A friendly rivalry existed between them as their members competed for sporting awards or credits earned for excellent classwork. I was in Wollaton and during the annual swimming tournament held at Beechdale Baths on Western Boulevard we would shout ourselves hoarse as our swimmers battled to win that prize trophy (one year Mark Grimshaw briefly held up the contest, for as he and the other competitors prepared to dive into the pool he kept losing his balance and plunging in, making Mr. Tomkinson, acting as announcer, shake his head in despair). We spectators were in stitches. That September saw glorious weather, but soon the morning sunshine became hazier and it grew chillier. No longer could you go round without your blazer or sweater on. I'm sure the reader will agree that hearing pop songs reminds us of where we were and what we were doing; now as much as I loved the Osmonds it's strange that a certain record which most captures these heady days for me wasn't made by them but by Peter Skellern - "You're A Lady". Perhaps because it was often played over the radio as I sat eating breakfast, feeling anxiety about the day ahead. I tended to dislike the morning assembly, because being First-Years we had to sit right at the front of the hall where all the higher years sat behind could see you. And it was damned uncomfortable on that wooden floor. Only the Fifth-Year pupils were afforded more luxury, resting on seats up in the balcony. The headmaster was Jack Aram (nicknamed 'Aram scare 'em'), my lasting memory of him as a bespectacled little old man in a grey suit preaching from behind a rostrum during assembly. His favourite and repeatedly used expression was "Glaisdale is the best school in Nottingham", prompting some dissenter to comment that he must have a cord on him which one could pull to make him speak the same line over and over. Still his addresses, mixing moral issues with personal reminiscences, could be quite enthralling sometimes; one day, visibly emotional, he stabbed at us with an outstretched finger and thundered, "Our soldiers were out fighting and dying in the steaming jungles of Burma and the hot sandy deserts of North Africa just for your freedom!" I was spellbound when he said that. I was even more transfixed when, during those first mornings, Mr. Aram gave regular progress reports on the medical condition of a star pupil named Nigel, who had either fallen ill or who had suffered some nasty accident, I'm afraid I don't remember which. Anyway on the seventh day, I think, he solemnly announced that Nigel had passed away the previous night. The hall was absolutely silent as we sat electrified, hanging onto his every word. As the headmaster proceeded to tribute the boy, I became aware of some girls audibly sobbing behind me. It was the first time I had ever encountered the subject of death, and needless to say was stunned. It was a brutal reminder that for all the securities and comforts of being a happy child, it did not protect you from death. This was the real world. On happier occasions some pupils would present talks, read poetry or those with guitars or flutes play for us. One time a group of kids from a special-needs school came and performed their version of 'Jesus Christ Superstar', the teenagers leading the younger ones. Despite being disadvantaged they put on a good show, the crucifixion scene featuring dazzling lighting and sound effects (the boy playing Jesus, aged about 16, gave a particularly impressive performance). By Christmas 1972 I was relaxing more. My classmates were becoming more familiar, such as Adele Bosworth, Adele Eagle, Ann Baverstock, Deborah England, Nichole Harrison, Maureen Hines, Alison White, Susan Huton and Jill Ford (these last three from Glenbrook), Carol Fox and her pal Karen Rolfe, and later, Karen Johnson who came for a short time in 1973 during which we became friends. Some of the boys I particularly remember were Kevin Pole, Howard Smith, Donovan Allen, Andrew Breward (who reminded me of an Enid Blyton character with his round spectacles), David Powell, Mark Watson, Tony Witham, Peter Tomlinson and especially Philip Keaton, because he always seemed determined to bring a sense of fun into a lesson if it became too serious and stuffy. One perk he enjoyed was going round scribbling 'Donny' (meaning Donny Osmond) on the boys' prided haversacks (upon which they had painted personal motifs regarding motorcycles or rock and soccer stars) with a thick black marker pen that wouldn't wash off, leaving the irate victim feeling humiliated and ashamed since they saw idolising Donny Osmond as a girlie thing! Our Year was given a Christmas party in the beautifully decorated assembly hall and I jigged to the Osmonds' latest single 'Crazy Horses' and David Bowie's 'Jean Genie'. Every festive time on the last day of term the school would put on a rented movie, exhibited in the assembly hall. The first I saw was 'North-West Frontier' starring Kenneth More and Lauren Bacall. But with all the kids chattering away in the flickering darkness you couldn't hear a single word of dialogue. Every time there was a scene showing a kiss, all the boys would begin howling and stamping their feet. Very annoying. Many times Mr. Tomkinson would have to turn up the lights and yell at them to be quiet, not that it had much affect. For a Christmas present dad bought mum contact lenses, a new product on the market. One evening when dad was working she thought one had become lost after rubbing her eye. So for the next two-and-a-half hours I helped her hunt for the damned thing. Both armed with a torch and a magnifier, we combed every square inch of the carpet and the sofa but turned up nothing. Finally mum discovered that the 'missing' lens had slid onto the white part of her eye. And after having turned the lounge upside down!
BACK FOR A NEW YEAR
1973 dawned with this nation's entry into the Common Market (as it was then called). We were now bound to our European partners lock, stock and barrel from which there was no going back (much to my parents' disgust, for they knew it would mean a steep rise in the cost of living). Some silly government minister even suggested the British people might like to speak in French when shopping. This must have gone down well with Mrs. Wright, our tutor for the language, because she drilled it into us intensely. Poor Maureen Hines once felt her wrath when Mrs. Wright caught her sneaking a look at a magazine she must have just bought, and duly ripped it to shreds before her eyes. Another strict teacher was the rather wooden Mrs. Garnham, who presided over geography. I seem to remember we all had to remain standing at our desks until she sat down or permitted us to leave. She shouted at me a few times for failing to do homework. Anyway I don't think she was popular with 1A2 for when Mrs. Garnham announced she was leaving, Mark Watson broke into cheerful applause. I was taken aback by his daring, expecting the tutor to explode, but to my surprise (and relief) she laughed. We would have been equally glad to see the back of Mrs. Jones, our stout and warty, bespectacled maths teacher, whose preferred style of punishment for failure to do homework was undoubtedly hanging, drawing and quartering. Perhaps realising this might be a little too excessive, she settled for handing out detentions left, right and centre. I was among her first victims and was nearly in tears since I had heard many horror stories about what they supposedly did to you in detention (absolute rubbish of course). Mrs. Jones earned more notoriety when, in full view of the class, summoned Stuart Cox who had also defaulted on homework and curtly informed him that until further notice he would be required to stay behind after school to carry out his work. Stuart, a shy boy, meekly submitted to it and I felt very sorry for him. Mrs. Jones was later dubbed 'Fatty Bum-Bum' after the title of a disco song. It could be just as traumatic in the noisy and crowded dining hall at mealtimes. Unlike today, chips and pop were not usually on the menu; boring hot-pot and mash seemed to be the regular dish while simple tap water made for your drink. I loved the sponge puddings heaped in custard, though. The floor would become littered with the odd escaped carrot or pea, smears of mashed potato and puddles of water. If you didn't take care walking you'd slip in the mess and fall hard on your posterior, disasterous when carrying your meal on a tray. And didn't all the kids just love to cheer at such mishaps, provided it happened to somebody else? I'd often sit with my friend Karen Awesworth, from the Second Year, and then we'd while away time in the library since I loved books on history. Presiding there was Miss Gregory, with her long blonde hair, thick-rimmed spectacles and rather snooty voice, and who later married to become Mrs. Trainer. She was never amused when I failed to return books on time; one volume I kept out for 18 months. With all the homework loaded onto us I didn't get much time for reading. Our headmistress was also named Gregory, a bit of a battleaxe who spoke in idiomatic king's English. She and her colleagues rested in a staffroom located in a corridor by the girls' wing of the school, separated from the rest of the building by a flight of stairs. This corridor was strictly out of bounds to pupils who had to have good reason to enter it, like when you needed to see a teacher about some important matter that couldn't wait. Even then you dared not approach too close to the staff doorway, lest you be challenged by a somewhat territorial tutor. Once I put my foot over the threshold to peer in and was brusquely shooed out by the enormous geography tutor Mr. Dixon (though he was a sweet and fun guy really). The little Mrs. Jordan took us for drama, which I enjoyed (pregnant at the time the birth of her bouncing baby girl was announced during assembly), the curly-haired Mr. Reid taught music ("If you behave like babies, you will be treated like babies," he once threatened as some of the class misbehaved), and Yorkshireman Mr. Kilding took us for physics, while Mrs. Darby did so for biology. Once she dissected a lamb's heart for us. I was fascinated and Philip Keaton, the classroom clown, quipped, "Just think, Miss. If that lamb was still alive, it'd be screaming now." The rest of the class let out a groan. At first I hated PE and dreaded the battered wooden horse (which had no doubt seen many bruised knees and twisted ankles in its time) but when I found I could vault over the thing with no difficulty, I actually began to enjoy the lesson. I was really exhiliarated. I fancied I might become an Olympic gymnast some day, like Olga Korbut. One winter's day in the gym as we girls cavorted about in the warmth, I spotted the boys' PE master Mr. Short making the lads play football outside amid a raging blizzard, and in their kits too! The poor souls must have been chilled to the bone and I thought Mr. Short a bit of a bully. Still, rather them than me! We had swimming at Beechdale Baths, and should I today get a whiff of that chlorine smell I am instantly transported back there. I attained my Learner's Certificate (which I still have) but did not go any further. Then there was Mr. Mugaseth, with his thick-rimmed glasses and his Middle Eastern countenance, and the much-talked about Mr. Webster. Now these pair took us for a combined lesson of history and RE behind the stage curtains in the assembly hall. I did get to hear of the playground canings the latter gave to the boys and knew he had a very loud shout, yet he still seemed popular among our Year because he would often joke around with us. For example once while Mr. Mugaseth was presenting his portion of the lesson, Mr. Webster, sat to the rear of us, kept swatting Steven Messum's curly crown with a rolled-up newspaper then looking away as the boy turned round. When the two teachers took classes 1A2 and 1A1 on a trip to Southwell Minster in June 1973, I had a quarrel with some classmates as to who was going to sit next to Mr. Webster on the way back. In the end I held the winning ticket, but blushed all the way. They also treated us to an afternoon concert in Nottingham. While the orchestra was tuning up I had a titter with a couple of classmates, imagining we could pick out various teachers among the musicians. Viewed from our high balcony seats a few of them really could pass for some of our tutors, especially one little old man strumming a double bass who was a dead ringer for Mr. Aram. The concert got underway with all listening intently. Unfortunately I was unable to switch my mind from our little bit of humour, and every time my eyes fell upon the little 'Mr. Aram' figure playing that huge bass, I repeatedly burst into uncontrollable fits of giggling. And the more I tried to stop it, the worse it became. The hall was not that large and since the audience on the other side were facing us they could easily see me. Even a member of the orchestra awaiting his cue spotted me and gave a black look. I could have died and never felt so embarrassed before or since! My favourite teacher above all others was Miss Samuel, who taught English. With a slim figure, blue eyes and long, brown permed hair, she can't have been any more than 20 years of age, and I looked up to her as a sort of role model. She treated me nice, too. As a result my ability in spelling and writing improved greatly. With her we read the novels 'Walkabout' and 'The Sword In The Stone'. I was also in her cookery class, where I recall baking some cakes made of Rice Krispies and chocolate. Unfortunately (for me) Miss Samuel left in summer 1973 to get married and I was really upset. I was equally distressed over my first school reports - the results were only average. Mr. Wheat wrote a scathing remark - "Leanne must stop trying to give everybody the impression that she is either asleep or very slow". Huh!
THE SECOND YEAR
After the summer break I started my second year at Glaisdale, in class 2A2. Most of the characters from 1A2 were still there, though I noticed the two Adeles had been moved. New pupils included Charmaine McPherson, Marilyn Wilson, Ann Stables and Paul Russell. Ann Stables' friend, Nichole Harrison, left in February the following year. By this time Karen Awesworth, now in the Third Year, was my best friend. Tuesday, August 7, 1973: Karen gives me some of her Osmond books and posters, tells me I'm her best friend. I don't know what to say. We're sisters now. Chat for hours sat on my doorstep in evening sun. Must find something to give her in return. As I have said elsewhere I hated French, but now I was to positively enjoy it as the lesson became such fun. You see we were taught by a certain Mrs. Raju, who excelled at yelling us to be quiet (in English). Every week without fail we would be subjected to regular exclamations of "NO TALKING!…THERE MUST BE NO TALKING AT ALL!…DO YOUR WORK IN SILENCE!" Naturally, nobody took the slightest notice and made even more noise. Philip Keaton began keeping note of how many times Mrs. Raju repeated her command, and he counted some 40-odd in one lesson alone. The crowning moment for me came in 1974, when the entire class led by David Hales erupted into singing Showaddy-waddy's current single, 'Hey, Rock n' Roll', together with the stamping feet. Poor Mrs. Raju looked as if she was going to blow a fuse with her howls of despair. Now remember I was shy and quiet, but even I delighted in banging the lid of my desk over and over… Actually I would have liked to try German, a more challenging language I think, but this was not available to our Year. I understand someone did eventually organise a German language club with Mr. Carre, the gutsy French-German tutor, but it was held after school and I just wanted to get home. I needed to anyway because I wanted to watch the TV series 'Arthur of the Britons' starring the adorable Oliver Tobias and 'The Tomorrow People'. With no home videos in those days you were forced to be on hand for your favourite programmes. After tea, so long as mum wasn't watching 'Sam', 'The Waltons' or 'Upstairs, Downstairs', or dad 'The World At War' (and so long as my boring homework didn't lay unfinished), I could enjoy the hilarious capers of 'The Goodies' or the drama of 'Colditz' with Robert Wagner and David McCallum. History was my favourite subject, now taught us by Mr. Brazier, a gentle middle-aged soul wearing glasses (though the sight of hairs growing from his nostrils made me cringe). In the course of Year 2 he steered us from Henry VII through the Spanish Armada, the English Civil War and the early Georgians, sometimes illustrating the lessons with films. The fair-haired David Powell always seemed to top the tests. A nice-looking boy he tended to horse around with a rather irritating giggle, and had a day-glo red satchel which made him unbelievably conspicuous, I mean you could see him coming a mile off. Anyway he had always been interested in astronomy and once gave us an enlightening lecture on the subject in geography, now headed by the aforementioned Mr. Dixon. Mr. Dixon was a jolly individual with a good sense of humour. Fair, he only delivered detentions as a last resort. Once someone let off a fire alarm and as we excitedly filled the corridor not knowing whether to stay or run, he waded through to turn it off but ordered us to stand aside since he did not wish "to be stamped on by your hooves". Mr. Dixon spent several lessons exploring the Camarque region in France, which tended to be the most boring subject he ever chose. My mind began to wander and soon I was doodling in my jotter; shortly the idle scratching began to form a life-like but unflattering caricature of our geography master over which I and a couple of classmates had a titter. Suddenly the man himself came by so I quickly turned the jotter over to conceal the incriminating drawing, but to refresh his memory he picked it up in order to read aloud the notes I had taken, quite oblivious to what was on the other side. I held my breath and my face began to flush - if ever he notices the sketch I'm stuffed, I thought. Fortunately he then placed my jotter back on my desk. Whew! I didn't enjoy English this year since the plain and bespectacled Mrs. Woodward had replaced Miss Samuel, and I couldn't get on with her at all. Once she furiously tossed my exercise book across the room after receiving some poor work from me. And we studied the classic 'Oliver Twist' and 'The Weathermonger' with her, which I must confess didn't care much for. For maths we had the scowling Mrs. Chamberlin, who was worse than Mrs. Jones. With a nervous twitch and a passion for wearing mini-skirts, she seemed to adore her red pen, for when she marked my algebra she would fill the gaps in my exercise book with long and critical sentences. I wondered if perhaps I'd got a few wrong. But I did enjoy drama under Mrs. Allen, art and crafts with Mrs. Wensley or the bearded Mr. Glazzard, biology headed by the grizzled Mr. Cooper (together with his cow's heart exhibit) and music with Mrs. Bussell. Wednesday, November 14, 1973: Were given day off to watch Princess Anne's wedding to Capt. Philips. Hurrah! TV was super - think I'll treasure this moment for years. Mum and me will keep news cuttings and pics. Hope Karen saw it. Much to talk about tomorrow… The winter of 1973-74 saw the advent of the miner's strike and the Three-Day-Week, and I think because of all the power-cuts hometime was brought forward to 3.50 p.m. Slade brought out their 'Merry Xmas Everybody' single for the first time, the lyrics of which suggested everyone would be having fun, yet this struck me as rather odd since Premier Mr. Heath had just told the nation we were set to have the worst Christmas since the war, urging people to use candles in order to save on electricity. Mum's response was not very enthusiastic, saying that Heath "can stick his candles up his a**e as far as they will go, preferably lit!" Despite this the school still put on the annual movie, this year it was Roman Polanski's 'Dance Of The Vampires'. When the crisis election of February 1974 came to the fore, Mark Watson, Philip Keaton and Rikki Dexter went round collecting 'votes of confidence' for old Harold Wilson, who became Britain's new premier after defeating Heath. I recall doing my homework when a TV newsflash reported that the latter had resigned. "GOOD!" my mum shouted at the box. At least I wouldn't have to brush my teeth by the light of a candle any more. Speaking of teeth I was forced to see the dentist a lot during 1974 (due to too many sweets from the Ambergate shops, no doubt). He was a new guy, whose surgery had a nice view of a graveyard. During my first trip and with it my first experience of that dreadful drill, the affected tooth had not completely frozen from the anasthetic with the result that I cried out in agony. The dentist stopped, placed his hands on his waist and asked sourly what was wrong. "You're hurting me," I gasped. "Now look here, you," he said, wagging his finger in my face, "I've got many patients waiting in there and if you're going to waste my time complaining, etc.…blah…blah…blah…" The nerve of it! And I had to keep seeing this merchant of pain and horror for months. Friday, July 5, 1974: Mr. Farrell did my last filling today. Thank God, it's all over. Karen called but was too sore. Going shopping with her tomorrow in new Broad Marsh Centre. Might see mum (she worked in one of the stores). Richard's sounds fab… I did go clothes shopping with Karen and Nottingham's Broad Marsh had only recently been opened. With pocket money I'd saved and a couple of pounds from mum, I bought a yellow top with short puffed sleeves and a lace up bodice, a white crinolin gypsy skirt, and a pair of beige platform sandals. Your money certainly went farther in those days. A sheepskin coat caught my eye, too, but no way could I afford that as well. Perhaps I could persuade dad to let me have one for my Birthday. This year discussion in both the girls' and boys' playgrounds centred on such topics as the new rock group Queen, the streaking phenomenon, Mr. Wheat shaving off his beard (and he looked so weird without it) the Wombles and Kung Fu. In fact many of the boys could be seen on the playing field behind the school trying out exotic kicks and punches on one another after obviously watching David Carradine in the TV series. I remember a boy in our class, Paul Archer, idolised Bruce Lee. As for me I began to drift away from Donny Osmond since he seemed to be too busy dressing up in silly costumes with sister Marie on their TV variety shows. Briefly I went for the new group Sparks, whose single 'This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us' dominated the summer. Soon however I settled on the Swedish combo Abba, presently taking the pop world by storm, and pin-ups of Donny gave way to those feauring Bjorn. I took on a paper delivery round for the Ambergate newsagent's, run by Mr. and Mrs. Carrington (funnily enough she was the former headmistress of Glenbrook). The pay was 1.15 per week. I enjoyed my little paper job amid the gorgeous summer weather, though it could get very hot at times. I loved wearing my purple velvet flared trousers and my little tank tops, prefering bright colours such as light blue, orange, pink or yellow, only they tended to become dirty from the newspaper print. In fact my hands would get as black as the ace of spades. The Carringtons kept me on into the next year. I vividly recollect a morning in February 1975 when I had to take some papers to the local dairy; the lead stories were all about Margaret Thatcher becoming the new leader of the Opposition and carried a photo of her giving the Churchillian 'V' sign - although Maggie had got her hand the wrong way round. Gosh, I thought, imagine having a woman prime minister. I wonder if it'll ever happen?… Now there was one lonely old lady on my route who had a yapping poodle dog. The moment I opened her garden gate the little mutt would enthusiastically announce my arrival and dance round my legs all the way to the front door, which by this point would have opened with the aroma of stew being cooked. Standing in the doorway the old lady (minus her false teeth) would then begin a monologue of her life and times. Being polite I tried to look interested and found it difficult to pull away. One afternoon I was stood there ages for Mark Peacock, one of my colleagues and who had started his round after me, passed by with an empty bag, a smirk written all over his face. He later quipped, "Looked like you were in 'B' company back then". I asked what he meant and he replied "Be here when I go out and Be here when I come back". I laughed and, with the ice broken, Mark and I gradually became firm friends. Aged 15 he was a pupil at the Player School, I think (which had a notorious reputation among us Glaisdalites), and his parents were Australian, having lived in Nottingham for the past two years. I loved listening to him talk about growing up in Sydney, and asked if he would take me back there some day. As time went by my feelings for Mark began moving beyond just friendship, though I knew he had a string of girlfriends. I always hoped that one day he would choose me, but alas it proved not to be. Towards the end of the last term Mrs. Woodward gave us homework on 'Oliver Twist', which we were reading. I decided to start it on a Saturday afternoon. Now my fountain pen, which I'd had since the first day, tended to leak and I often sat on our sky-blue leather settee to do my homework; result: ink stains on the upholstery …Mum went ballistic when she discovered them. A big row ensued and I stormed off to Karen's to lay low until the heat died down. (It was 1 a.m. when I returned home and got a second rollicking for being out so late.) My school reports now showed a definite improvement, with as many 'B' grades as 'C's. (Alas, still no 'A's yet.) Mrs. Chamberlin, taking up her nasty red pen again, saw fit to give me a 'D'. To be honest this did not surprise me. Following is my diary entry on that point - Tuesday, July 16, 1974: Report out today. Chamberlin gives me a 'D', says I'm lazy. Cow. Don't understand this sodding algebra anyhow. She can go get stuffed…
THE FINAL YEAR
So another September. Now my class was 3A2, and each morning all us Third Years would occupy the centre of the assembly hall. Soon be up on that balcony, I thought. Again generally the same faces were around, though Adele Eagle was back together with some new ones such as Carol Wilson, Suzette Hillman, Sharon Singleton, Peter Elliott, Paul Bradwell and the good-looking Anthony Barwell. And now Glaisdale experienced the first wave of 'rollermania' as the Bay City Rollers swept up the pop charts, lots of girls coming to school in tartans and carrying tartan bags. Carol Fox and Karen Rolfe were dedicated Roller fans but they didn't do anything for me. My registration group also acquired a new teacher, the geordie Mr. Bird. To check the mirth rippling around the class, he said, "OK, OK, I've heard all the jokes about my name." Immediately he became known as 'Tweet-Tweet'. Another tutor newly-arrived on the scene and who took 3A2 for physics was Mr. McGuiggan, who rarely smiled and struck me as being a little aloof. When I overheard someone inquire over his whereabouts but through difficulty in pronouncing his name came out with 'Mr. Magoo', that did it for me and henceforth I nick-named him that. Once I bumped into Mr. McGuiggan in a bookstore and without thinking said for all to hear, "Yoo-hoo, hello, Mr. Magoo." He gave me a black look and made no reply. As for me I wished the earth would open up and swallow me. My performance in lessons was getting better all the time, particularly history (focusing on the Industrial Revolution, Napoleon and the Victorians), art, geography, RE (with the tall, gentle Mr. Towle) English (since Librarian Mrs. Mansfield was in charge now) and even maths (the obnoxious Mrs. Chamberlin having gone). Mrs. Mansfield, who took our class in the library, had inherited an early photocopier from Mrs. Steane, her predecessor, which of course only produced black and white prints (or should I say grey and white) and which were rather soggy and had to be allowed to dry before touching them. With her we read through the novel 'Shane'. The film that Christmas was "The Wreck of the Mary Deare", and as usual you couldn't make out a single word due to the kids' incessant chattering. And as usual Mr. Tomkinson was forced to turn up the lights several times and roar "SHUT…UP!" By 1975 I guess I was becoming a little rebellious, perhaps because Mark was. He had already got me smoking on the quiet. One day I was having a smoko with some Fourth-Year girls I'd got to know in our cloakroom, while someone kept watch by the door. Suddenly she warned us that Mrs. Gregory was on the prowl, so we threw our half-exhausted cigarettes through the open windows and frantically tried to waft the tell-tale smoke away with exercise books. Spotting us the headmistress, obviously suspicious, stepped inside and demanded to know what was going on. Quickly thinking I said "Er, isn't it hot, today, Miss?"… "Don't you think so, Miss?" remarked one of the others… "Eh? Oh, yeh, just trying to keep ourselves cool, Miss," added the third, fanning herself with a magazine. I don't know why we bothered trying to bluff our way out, since the smell was quite evident. After a brief lecture from Mrs. Gregory (you know the usual stuff, giving Glaisdale a bad name, etc.) detentions were handed out all round. I was completely non-plussed. Looking back, I'm surprised how much I'd changed from being a shy, nervous wreck only two-and-a-half years previously. I must record a rather spooky encounter I had at this time. In March I accompanied my parents on a visit to my aunt and uncle's house which was a large old Tudor building. Now they had been experiencing some ghostly phenomena brought about by a spirit known as Jane, such as light switches flicking on and off and doors opening and slamming shut. The last thing I'd heard was that my aunt's stand-up vacuum cleaner had started up and begun moving by itself, according to Elaine. She was there together with her friend Wendy, and then the elders set off for a drink at the village pub. Elaine's brother was also going for a pint with his mate and teased me about Jane as they left. Us three girls were alone and then someone had to go and suggest having a game of hide and seek, which I didn't fancy doing in a haunted house. However I agreed and as a result of drawing lots I had to be the seeker. So Elaine and Wendy scampered off giggling. When I set about looking for the pair I sensed how still and quiet the house seemed, save for the sound of the TV. Here and there I thought I felt chilly temperatures but put it down to my over-active imagination. Then there was a creak…then a brief scratching sound, which seemed to be coming from the kitchen. Gulping, I could feel my heart thumping in my chest as I entered the room, stepping on its cold stone floor. Suddenly the handle of the door to the broom cupboard twisted up and down! Could this be the ghost? I froze and with my heart in my mouth asked, "Er, is that you, Jane?" Summoning up the courage I held my breath and swiftly pulled the door open - to behold Elaine and Wendy tumbling out of the cramped cupboard helpless with laughter. Feeling foolish I just shrieked at them. After that I didn't speak to Elaine for months! The end came in July 1975. My parents had been looking to buy their own house for some time now, and they struck lucky with a bungalow. The only problem was it was sited in a shire of Nottingham, so that meant having to leave Glaisdale. I found it a terrible wrench for I had been growing up with the kids there, some I had known since 1970 when I started at Glenbrook Girl's. Of course it also meant leaving Mark behind but he promised to write (we did keep in touch for 18 months after but suddenly his letters unaccountably stopped; I never heard from him again). As for Karen she was spending more and more time with her boyfriend anyway. My diary entry tells it all: Friday, July 4: My last day at Glaisdale.... I'm not happy to be leaving, I'm doing so well here. Sat alone on a bench in the playground up to an hour after hometime, reflecting. Never did I imagine feeling this way… On Tuesday we leave our little house forever. Then I won't see Mark anymore. Oh God, how I loathe it when things have to change… My next school was a tremendous disappointment, and which saw the dreaded scourge of bullying rearing its ugly head. I suffered badly, and longed to be back at dear Glaisdale. But just like that autumn day in 1972 time had moved on again. I now realised I had been very happy at my former school. The single 'I'm Not In Love' by 10CC, which was No. 1 in the pop charts during July, evokes powerful memories of this period. With my diaries, my old school badge, and my reports still in my possession (unfortunately no photos as they were lost some years after) I keep my memories of Glaisdale fresh and alive. Yes, the school as we experienced it and the colourful characters we once knew, loved or loved to hate have long since faded into the past but after all the building itself is only bricks and mortar. The real Glaisdale lives on in the hearts of all of us who were there… * * * * * * *
all text ©2004 Leanne Mills