Indulge me today. I'm getting nostalgic. When I did that meme thing a few weeks ago, I just had too many bits of life left over. Thought I'd use up these bits today.
Thirty years ago:
I was twenty years old and in my first year at a teacher training college in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. I lodged in nearby Droitwich Spa with another student, a sweet, ditsy girl called Valerie, who drove us to college every morning in her beat up car which we had to push down the hill to get started. Val and I soon asked to be moved to new accomodation when we found ourselves roped in as unpaid babysitters, and the hot water rationed.
Halfway through our first term moved to stay with the Pages, who lived just walking distance from the college in a beautiful big house full of books and were extremely kind to us.
It was a year of discovery for me. The formidable Dr. McGowan was as kindly as she was gruff, but how we quaked in her classes! She introduced us to Eliot, and Conrad, and Patrick White and Browning and William Golding. A buffet of literary excellence to whet our appetites for what we'd be studying later on.
And this was the year I discovered opera. My landlord, Jim Page was the music critic for the Bromsgrove Messenger and got free tickets to all the major performances in Birmingham. In swift succession I got whisked off to The English National Opera's productions of The Ring cycle, Il Travatore, Tosca and was hooked for life.
At weekends I'd hitchhike, not home to see my parents in Meriden, but to The Boyfriend's squalid bedsit in Coventry. He was studying at the School of Music and trying to decide whether to study formal composition or just join a rock band and move to London. My musical education (everything from Joni Mitchell, through Frank Zappa, Soft Machine, and weird experimental jazz to Mozart, Schoenburg and Peter Maxwell Davies) was safe in his hands ... though my heart wasn't. Weekends we'd go to see plays at the Belgrade Theatre or I'd accompany him to concerts where he played clarinet solos with amateur orchestras and wind groups for a little extra cash.
Forty years ago
Ten years old and in Mrs. Marsden's class at St. Edward's Catholic School, Coleshill. Mrs. Marsden believed in strict segregation. Her 44 students were arranged in three islands: Top group, Middle Group and Bottom Group. The boys were seated at her end of the room: the easier to whack them with the ruler if they misbehaved. I was in Top Group, though I feared relegation at any moment - my friends has threatened to rat on me about the ink blots in my science book.
I sat between Linda McCrilley (who always had this stale smell about her because her dad owned a pig farm and she helped with the swill before coming to school), and my best friend Deirdre who was my mentor in shop-lifting.
We started the day with Hail Mary and Our Father, catechism class ("Who made you?" "God made me"), recitation of times tables, and a fifteen minute burst of mental arithmatic. We listened to schools' programmes broadcast on the BBC during the music and science periods, and heard Homer's wonderful Odyssey in episodes. Mrs. Marsden taught everything apart from music when we were dragged over to the hall by Mrs. Pendlebury to sing "The sun is a-coming to welcome the day, Hey ho come to the fair” while she bashed at the piano.
On Friday afternoons were my favourites We had painting and we were all jealous of the mournful Margaret Downs when Mrs. Marsden praised the maturity of her work. She painted all her pictures (whether of the Annunciation or Cyclops' cave) solely in moody red and black.
Play times were always spent with gap-toothed Laureen Howard, saving the treasures of Atlantis from the bottom of a tropical ocean, or piloting Thunderbirds 8 for International Rescue, or swapping the Man from Uncle cards which came free with squares of pink bubblegum.
I dawdled home as slowly as possible with Deidre, each of us daring the other into new dangers after school. I stopped the dare business after a particularly hairy escapade left me hanging for dear life by my fingertips on the outside struts of a bridge with a twenty-foot drop and a rushing river beneath me. Good job my over-protective mum never knew.
My family was living temporarily in a postwar prefabricated house (the malaysian equivalent would surely be 'low cost') at the bottom of the hill, while our new house (designed by my dad) was being built.
It was a year of Enid Blyton. I devoured the Malory Towers series in preparation, I thought, for how things would be at my secondary school.
50 years ago (today)
Sharon Joyce Young born at St Francis Private Hospital to Leonard James Young (Road Engineer) and Kitty Ella Young (formerly Turner) of 21 Abbey Drive, Leicester. With a whole lot of memories in my head that couldn't possibly be mine.
Today I have become an antique!