After last night, I wish I had gone to a girls’ boarding school in my teenage years.
Last night, I sat between two women who did go to boarding school together and who were reminiscing about their not-so-good old days.
I will call them Mary and Margaret.
They had found a Facebook group thread for their old school:
“Does anyone remember The Rabbit Lady?” said one online comment. “Once a year, the whole school had to sit in the hall for ‘sex education’ while she drew diagrams and prattled on about the reproductive cycle of rabbits.”
“She was The Bunny Woman,” someone else had posted. “So-called because the first ‘sex’ lesson she delivered was all about Mummy Bunny and Daddy Bunny and how they managed to produce all those little bunnies… That’s all she talked about. I don’t remember any follow-up lessons, just the rabbit one. It left us all a bit mystified.”
“Do you remember anything about rabbits?” I asked Mary.
“No, that was before my time,” she replied, “but we had our equivalent of The Rabbit Lady.”
“Did we?” asked Margaret.
“You don’t remember?” asked Mary. “Once a year in the gym? Our whole class – well, two years together – we had to bring our chairs in a semi-circle and sit there and we thought this woman was obviously going to tell us the details of sticking it in and ovaries and stuff like that – maybe making it clearer to us, though we’d guessed some bits – and Catherine asked What are periods? and that was it. The whole lesson was spent talking about what periods were. We weren’t interested. We wanted to know about bits & pieces and hot dogs & sausage rolls.”
“Is there a Facebook page for your school?” Margaret asked me.
“You have a lot of notable former pupils,” Margaret said, scrolling down the list. “Air Vice-Marshal Arthur Button, Director of RAF Education…”
“Ah!” I lied. “Old ‘Butters’,” I knew him well.” In fact, he was born in 1916, before my parents were even born. But I had known about (though never knew):
Raymond Baxter (1922-2006), TV personality (presenter of now sadly forgotten science series Tomorrow’s World)
Sir Trevor Brooking (b.1948), Footballer
and, more interestingly
Kathleen Lonsdale (1903-1971), Chemist, who had studied at the girls’ school and transferred to the boys’ school at the age of 16 so she could study science.
Then, another surprise to me:
Boyd Hilton (b.1967) TV Editor, Heat Magazine
We scrolled further down the list.
“Good heavens!” I said.
John Moloney (b.1965), Comedian and Writer
“I didn’t know he went to my school,” I said. “I worked with his wife Anna on a Jack Dee TV series. She was wonderful. Phenomenally efficient. John Moloney’s very good. He started out billing himself as an Angry Young Accordionist. I wonder if he learnt it at school.”
“The accordion?” asked Mary.
“Being angry,” I said.
I was not on the list of notable former pupils.
It is good to see that standards have been maintained.
But I would like to know more about Kathleen Lonsdale (1903-1971), Chemist, who had studied at the girls’ school and transferred to the boys’ school at the age of 16 so she could study science.
If I had known that and if she did that, perhaps I missed my chance and I really could have gone to a girls’ boarding school and learned about sex with rabbits.
Life is full of missed opportunities.