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Summer term - Week 15

Posted by Lights Out Ladies
Lights Out Ladies
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on Monday, 15 July 2013
The weather this week has been beyond fantastic and the whole school seems bathed in a warm glow. The honey-coloured stones turn from yellow to a deep orange as the sun sets and the staff sit sipping Pimms from mugs to ensure the pupils think that it is simply late tea.

Beyond the stone verandah outside the Headmaster's office the flower beds are bursting with a gorgeous clash of colour and the whole school seems sparkling, or is it just that we are waving off the last of the pupils today?

Next term I return in my new role as a House Ma'am (I know - I am going to get cards made up) but for now I can enjoy just sitting out the end of my first term as a humble History teacher.

I turn to the Second Master who has joined our small party and is sitting, eyes closing on a bench behind me.

"Any plans for the holiday?" I ask.

"I'm going to work on my book," he states.

I'm impressed until the Head's PA whispers to me that this is his stock answer for every holiday but no one has yet to see any glorious tome.

"You?" he enquires, one eye swivelled on me.

I'm flustered, "Ibiza," I shout, feeling that I have somewhat let the side down.

Fortunately at that moment a group of sixth formers come up to start shaking some of the staff by the hand. A lot of them are carrying mugs...

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Summer term - Week 13

Posted by Lights Out Ladies
Lights Out Ladies
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on Monday, 01 July 2013
I have been reliably informed by most of the Staff Common Room that this week is the most important week of the year. I wrinkled my nose on hearing this for the third time. Lights Out Ladies

A levels are over, GCSE's are done and dusted. Are we being inspected?

Oh no. It is the annual election of the JSGB.

Every year the school waits with bated breath for the announcement of the new members of the JSGB - the Junior School Governing Body. Pupils have to apply, by hand, for a position on the governing body. They are then selected for interview with the Headmaster and Second Master. The shortlisted candidates for President of the JSGB (or the prospective 'PJSGB's') are then invited to write a speech to deliver to the other pupils. A vote is held, the Headmaster and Second Master confer and then the entire body of twelve pupils is announced and the PJSGB is crowned (literally - the school decided against a badge when they discovered a C15th pewter crown acting as a bookend in the Geography department).

This year the contest has been heavily contested and the staffroom have been split. Felix and Gerald - two excellent candidates, both classists and both on the Cricket 1st XI. Both complete chinless wonders in my opinion.

Gerald wins through the day after his Father's Rolls was seen outside the Headmaster's house. His position is confirmed in the same breath as the news that the school has finally found the money needed to resurface the astro pitch.

Felix is seen smashing out his frustration in the nets and Gerald spends the rest of the week bossing people about in a special striped waistcoat and telling them all that as PJSGB he can lie in on Saturdays, marry Matron and keep a goat on school grounds.

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Summer Term - Week 2

Posted by Lights Out Ladies
Lights Out Ladies
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on Monday, 15 April 2013
"Gentleman and Ladies." The Headmaster claps his hand together and we all fall silent. It is break time and I'd been mid-reach for one of the world's smallest tea cups. I have missed the moment. Andy (PE) puts his biscuit whole into his mouth, smiling at me apologetically as I hastily try to look away.

The Headmaster's PA is huffing as she drags a mannequin into the staffroom behind him. Her arm is hooked over the slender neck of the rigid female figure as she drags her across the Common Room floor. She props her into a standing position, rearranges her necktie and neatly smoothes down her skirt before exiting with muttered words and reddened cheeks.

The staffroom, Senior Common Room or "SCR" as it is known, is full to bursting for Morning Notices. Enormous sofas, well worn, are all occupied, teachers are propped against the walls which are lined with severe-looking portraits of past Wardens of the College. One is pictured seated at an ornate desk, one pointing at the artist. Nearly all have dogs. The Headmaster claps his hands. They are walnut brown from an Easter holidays skiing in Verbier. This morning he has combed his hair backwards into a rather neat quiff.

"I hope you've all had a splendid rest and are ready for the challenge of a new term." He claps his hands together again.

Most people are looking at the mannequin.

I am wondering whether to leg it out of the nearest exit and back to London.

He points to the mannequin, "Meet our new pupil," he begins, then he looks around at us all. There is a rumble of polite laughter. I fix a smile on my face, trying desperately to focus on what he is saying. The mannequin looks as vacant as I feel.

Perhaps realising he has lost his audience already he circles her/it. "This is what I want," he announces, "As you know we have accepted a whole cohort of girls (pronounced 'gals') to the school this year and I want them to look like this."

He gestures to the mannequin who is dressed in a simple knee length navy blue skirt, a rather thin, cheap looking white shirt and an alarming orange necktie that would not have looked out of place on an aeroplane. In the 1980s.

"Note the length of the skirt, note the shirt, tucked in and note the neat knot." And so it continues... for 10 minutes. Tea has gone cold, teachers are fidgeting and Andy is looking longingly back at the remaining tray of biscuits.

It is at the end of all this that the Headmaster turns in my direction and gestures towards me. "And as you have no doubt noticed we have taken on a new member of staff too." If I had tea I would have spilt some.

I try to look confident, glance at the faces turned towards me. "Clare here will be taking over in the History department and will run our rounders teams this term (will I!?!), so do introduce yourself and make her welcome."

A whole horde of men, or as it seems to me a sea of tweed, turns towards me nodding and mumbling a welcome. I can feel my face blending in with the burgundy velvet curtains behind me.

It is my first day at Brockfield House, my old life in London seems a million miles away already. I nod back wondering how I am going to fit in. Then I stare at my navy blue kitten heels, so slender, so feminine, and realise it might take more than a new wardrobe. The headmaster's secretary reappears, rolls up her sleeves, seizes the mannequin once more and drags her out, feet first.

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