This challenge I found interesting, to describe where you lived at the age of twelve. Well I have started to write about this on the page St Trinians with a slash of Hogwarts
At the age of twelve my home was a boarding school, and I wanted to write about it because the experience effected me deeply. So this is the beginning of it….
I thought I would share with you my experience of secondary school because I think I’m safe to say that my adventure was different to most people. Just imagine a place that was a mixture of the fun and excitement of St Trinians, the mystery of Hogwarts, and the incarceration of prison, that was the place where I was sent. I say sent, I went willingly, but I think it was not ‘what it said on the tin’, or the picture that was sold to me. I went because I was told that I would have to give up my dancing when I go to secondary, bearing in mind I was dancing every single day, it was my life, so yes I would have done anything to continue. It sounded like heaven dancing, singing, music and drama all day and weekends, even better, all of this and with no parents. What more could a you want?
The process to get into the school was rigorous, even to get an interview at the school, photos, and letters needed to be completed before you set a toe on the grounds. The audition day was jam packed with, a singing, dancing, drama, and academic tests. There seemed to me that there was hundreds of hopefuls going for a place at this prestigious school, that I did not think there was a hope in hell that a young naive farmer girl like me would never be good enough for a place like this. The only thing that I thought had going for me was when the head teacher was interviewing me in front if a panel of five, and a room full of peers, worst than the x factor, was she asked what my father did for a living, I said a farmer, her eyes lit up. Maybe she thought oh this one will be alright because her dad owns land, he will be able to pay the fees.
And so that day came and went and we played the waiting game for the letter to arrive to give us the verdict, is she in or is she out? Well she was in and the excitement of this new adventure was just great at the time. I could boost to children of where I was going, which I relished in because up till now I had just been there in the background not really good at anything no one really noticing me, but oh they took noticed now, especially my dancing chums, because some of them had tried to get into a school like this and couldn’t or their parents could not afford the fees. I was in the local paper, which was not hard I suppose, because I would only have to sniff and mother put it in the newspapers. But all in all I was enjoying this new found celebrity statues. Just getting the uniform or should I say uniforms was an adventure in its self. The never ending list arrived for the paraphernalia we needed to have, there was five sets of different uniforms, daily wear, summer uniform, winter uniform, Sunday best uniform and dance uniform, all of this to be purchased from a huge department store in London. So with all this you can imagine my eagerness to get to this magical place was at fever pitch. Little did I know how quickly this would fizzle away.
First day had arrived and after travelling seven hours with large full red trunk in tow, we finally arrived and drove up the gravel driveway. The only way I can describe it is something out of ‘Sense and Sensibility’. Bearing in mind I was looking at this through the eyes of an eleven year old everything looked enormous, the building was majestic, an original Rothschild mansion. The main entrance was over towered by two stone pillars which looked like they were guarding the wooden doors and what was beyond. I was in ore and feeling apprehensive to even getting out of the car. There was what seemed like, hundreds of cars with little wide eyed faces peering out of their car windows, being guided were to park, I had arrived. Were to go now? Walking between the stone guards we went up the staircase and into the lobby area which was floor to ceiling covered in photos of people past, royalty, cups and certificates. Gave them my name and was pointed towards a door. When I walked through the door what I saw to me was just this mystical place, a grand stairway going up, doors, pillars, marble floor, and a huge glass window which the height of the hall looking into a room which was the first dance studio I saw, but this studio was no ordinary dance studio that I had seen before. It was panelled with oak, had gargoyles glaring down at you, two fire places that you could stand in, barres, mirrors, and a grand piano situated in the large bay windows. We were told to put my trunk in the ballet room, which was one of the doors off the hallway. Yet another studio, this one was decorated in pale blue, again had a fire place, barres, mirrors and another grand piano. The room was jammed with trunks all sizes and colours, in joined my red one. What next? We wondered around aimlessly taking in the surroundings found two more studios off the main hallway. One a red room which looked out to the back gardens, where there was tennis courts. A room, which was a ballroom, the grandest room yet. It had a fireplace that had two marble angels either side hovering, glaring over you. The scent of the whole place was dust. There were many clusters of parents with their offspring all doing the same as us, wondering around not quite know what was going to happen next. Then it was indicated that the parents had to leave their blossoms. Now as far as I can remember I could not wait for my parents to leave, not even watching them go it was kind of a ‘ya right then bye’, then they were gone. I wish in hindsight that I had savoured their leaving because this was the last time I was to see them or speak to them for seven weeks. A bit like the doors in ‘porridge’, bang our sentence began.
That was it I was on my own, a new everything. I don’t really remember how I got there but I was shown to my dormitory. It was in another building so walking to it gave me opportunity to get a glimpse at more of my new home. I was taken down a staircase beyond the hallway which brought us to a basement. This looked dark and grey, a contrast to the grandeur of upstairs, the walls concrete and tiled, a rabbit warren of corridors. This must have been where the servants lived and worked when the mansion was owned by the Rothschild’s. We went through and then out a back door into a courtyard. Across and beyond was a building they called the Clockhouse, probably because of the great big clock on top of the building. To the left of the Clockhouse was a conservatory kind of building, which inside has potters wheels, art work, benches, and sculptures. I was taken in through the front door of the Clockhouse and up a sweeping staircase, along a rickety corridor, with many doors along, to a door that was last but one to the end, numbered seven. Here we were my cell, or should I say room. I do not know what I was expecting, you have visions in your head of boarding school dormitories, don’t you, of these large long rooms, with rows of beds either side, a bit hospital like. Well this was not what I was thinking at all, I walked through the door and I saw four beds, four chairs, four chests of drawers and three hard looking pairs of eyes staring at me, in a room smaller than my lounge now. The other three beds had been taken there was one left, I guessed this must be mine then. It was in the corner, behind the door. Just as was just thinking what next, the strangest looking person flung the door open. She was, I would say in her seventies, but I bet she was younger than she looked. She had a humped back, dragon like features and the brightest purple hair I had ever seen. She introduced herself as Mrs Veal in her crackly voice and she was the matron, scary, this was my part time mother, help. She spoke about rules, regulations and I don’t know what. In time I was to learn her catch phrase, ‘I just don’t want to know’, she would say this after she had asked what you were doing, and before you had chance to get your sentence out she without fail would come out with her catch phase. Seriously why did she ask then?