Yesterday I opened Facebook to find a picture of my 11-year-old (or thereabouts) self peering out at me. In a blink, I was there in a slightly-too-big blazer, knee socks and a stiff navy skirt (although you can’t see them in the photos). I’m with my housemates Fiona, Suzie and Carolyn. Where are you all girls? We’re on our way to join the dining hall queue.
I’m only slightly older in that picture than Boy One is now, and he’s getting ready for high school – my baby a tiny fish in a huge pond again.
But that wasn’t the only school based blast from the past on a wet Monday. As part of his preparation for the move, Boy One got a tour of Gryffe High School, Boy Two and I got to tag along too with him and the wonderful Mrs D from the Columba Unit at St Benedict’s.
The Columba Unit has an outreach support team for the area’s autistic spectrum kids. They have decided that the best use of some of their resources is to offer inreach (I’ll forgive the use of this horrible word in this case) to the kids who most need help in getting their heads round high school. So Boy One has been going one morning a week for the past two years.
So there we were, maps in hand, navigating the corridors like extras in the unlikely to ever be made Harry Potter goes to a Modern School and Comes Away Pleasantly Surprised. Then whoosh it hit our noses – the whiff of baking mixed with cleaning products and children’s schoolbags. Mrs D and I laughed domestic science rooms still smell exactly the way they always did.
Back in the early 80s, the only thing I ever remember making in Mrs Weir’s class was something peculiar with mince. I believe it was flavoured with Campbell’s condensed cream of mushroom soup. Funnily enough, I’ve never had the urge to mix the two since. But the smell in the room was identical.
Science labs too still have that gassy, metallic odour you can almost taste. And they still use Bunsen burners apparently. Changing rooms pong of socks, sweat and that rubbery stuff that comes of crash mats.
The Panther of News asked: “Do they still smell of fear?”
Did they ever? Not mine, I don’t think.
I came away impressed by a sense of busyness, lots going on, equipment well used and a place where there’s a job to be done. I think Boy One will survive there and learn something. He might even enjoy it.
And my school days, through the telescope of time, they weren’t so bad, but, then again, I’m very, very glad it’s not me starting high school this year.
Thanks to Gillian M-H for the photo and the trip down memory lane.