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He who would valiant be 'gainst all disaster

Updated: May 4, 2020

Let him in constancy follow the Master.

  1. Passed the entrance exam and went away to boarding school at age 11, with a trunk full of stiff new bottle green uniform, six school regulated brasiers and a tuck box full of chocolate digestives.

  2. Loved the first year… made fast friends and enjoyed the novelty of school plays, netball, hockey, tennis, swimming, sports day, poetry competitions, piano, clarinet, french, german, cookery and afternoon tea with flapjacks.

  3. Then the newness wore off… school got harder, friendships became drama and smoking on the roof was the only outlet from the intensity…even had school on Saturdays and shuffled off to Church on Sundays in stiff corduroy dresses, velvet caps and heavy duffle coats… everything felt heavy.

  4. Received manners grades and deportment grades three times a year… and the bossy games teacher, Miss Murhead, weighed us on the first and last day of term and read the number out loud to the whole class…reports got mailed to my parents. “She could try harder.”

  5. By the time I was 15, I had had enough… it was time to take matters into my own hands… bought possibly-not grass at a Burger King in Leicester Square during one of the very few weekends out with two others and brought it back to school.

  6. Word got out and during assembly one morning, there was a school-wide search… they didn’t find it.. but three of us were summoned to Ms Godfrey’s office…she had a concave chest, a greasy face and very thinning hair tied up in a pathetic bun wrapped around a donut ring.

  7. We were interviewed one by one….they were better liars, I cracked under pressure… I was sent home immediately that day in a shroud of disbelief and uncertainty.

  8. They never found it.. it had been in my lock box all along so when I packed my overnight bag, I grabbed it… and ceremoniously threw it out of the train window on the way to London... shaking it out of the baggy and watching it blow away… I started to feel lighter.

  9. There was a lot of kerfuffle when I got home.. disappointed parents laying on piles of guilt and concerned school friends calling to reach out... only to discover later years that my father had also been expelled from his boarding school.

  10. I wasn’t officially expelled that day... it was a few days later when I was asked not to return… after the initial sadness of not knowing when I would see my friends again…an overwhelming sense of relief came over me…I no longer had the weight of having to conform…. It was freeing... I was free… I was free to be me.


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