Throughout high school I was convinced I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders. Homework, mad dashes for the bus, teenage crushes. I am now, of course, completely aware that fretting over whether anybody else would be sitting in the space me and my friends occupied at lunchtime was not that much of a hassle. It just seemed like the end of the world at the time if we did not claim that exact spot in time and had to seek out other territories. I went to an all Girls school. (Which often instigates the popular male belief that it must result in 50% of the girls turning lesbian to make up for the lack of male company. I am sorry to burst any bubbles but this is not true.) I had some of the best times of my life at that school, whether I knew it or not. 5 Things I miss about high school…
1. Uniform Adjustments – It was obligatory that we would roll up our hideously knee-length skirts as far as we could possibly get away with. The issue with this, though, is that when you’re rolling up the waistline so many times it creates a sort of bulge of material at the top. We would get around this inconvenience by folding the waistband of our tights down over the rolled up wad of skirt to sort of hold it in place. This created a pouch of sorts. We would often store our phones and other handy equipment in these pouches, which probably looked completely ridiculous. Tights are for keeping legs warm, not keeping a dangerously short skirt in place and trapping mobiles against our hip. We went through a phase of wearing grey wooly tights, not because they looked good with the uniform, but simply because they were the color we weren’t allowed.
2. Lunch Times – There was a group of about 7 of us who religiously ate lunch together every day. While most of the other girls sat inside the sports hall, we were proud to call the little corridor just outside of it ours. Most days we laughed until we were almost sick. We would behave rather fiercely towards anybody who dared sit in our place. We’d sit directly opposite them, very close so that we imposed upon their space, glaring over our sandwiches to portray our disbelief at their nerve. Looking back I can understand how ridiculous it is that we were so protective of our lunchtime spot. The next step would have honestly probably been physically peeing all over the carpet to mark it as ours. Thankfully we never had the need to take things that far.
3. Teachers – I had a lot of nice teachers. Some of the loveliest are probably to thank for my continued passions in certain subjects today. Then there were the supply teachers who would literally wander into the classroom in a daze, at which point we’d all cheer at knowing our usual teacher was away so we’d be having an easy lesson. The supply teachers usually just handed out a worksheet and let us get on with it, even if letting us get on with it was allowing us to conduct a serious Loose Women-style gossip session in the back row during a Maths class. Occasionally the female supply teachers would wander over to inquire if any students had gotten pregnant recently, desperate to get in the loop. A male supply teacher once said my friend looked like a stripper (due to previously mentioned uniform adjustments) and every girl in the room united to conduct an outraged debate with him which would have made any politician proud.
4. School Trips – My best friend and I chose Textiles as one of our GCSE options and got to go on some amazing school trips, all of which turned out to be eventful. We once visited a huge posh art gallery in London which we were told would inspire us. We were also told to not get lost and be back at the entrance ready to get on the coach at 3p.m sharp. Three of us wandered off and got lost in deadly silent rooms which contained paintings so expensive each one was cordoned off with rope and guarded. At two minutes to three, beginning to panic, we realized we had no idea where we were and began a mad dash through the extravagant rooms to find our group and teachers. All of a sudden my friend and I heard a gasp behind us and turned around to see out third friend standing behind the rope which separated the public from a painting. A very, very expensive painting. In her mad dash to find a route back she’d somehow ended up stepping over the rope to get past a group of tourists gathered viewing the painting. The security guard was so shocked by her audacity that he just sat in his chair, eyes widening, as if waiting for her to pull out a Sharpie and start drawing all over the canvas.
On another occasion myself and the same two friends were on a trip to the O2 arena at a Tutankhamen exhibit. The teacher tells us to explore a little so what do we do? We see a huge escalator and get straight on it, pretending we were oblivious to the numerous signs stating that it led to an airport. Once up the escalator we continued on along those moving floor things (like escalators but flat) which you find in airports. It went on forever and I don’t know what we thought we were achieving by heading that way – Three 15 year old girls with no baggage, money or passport, convinced we could find some sense of achievement by reaching the airport and seeing where we could go from there. The fantasy was all broken when a security guard escorted us back into the 02 Arena where our teacher was stood rolling her eyes and mumbling ‘It’s always you three…’
5. Teenage Kicks – There was a boys school directly next to our all girls school. I was a relatively shy teenager (when it came to males, anyway) and until I was about 16 was not able to have a coherent conversation with a boy unless I spent it staring somewhere over his shoulder or at the floor. We’d gather in the mornings and after school with some of the boys to learn social interactions which, to be honest, none of us were very good at for a good few years. The most exciting thing about all of this was the giggling frenzy which would ensue whenever we caught wind that a boy liked one of us. And by liked I mean that they’d seen us standing around and told a mate to tell one of our mates that they fancied us. Us girls would then settle down in our form room before lessons to have an extremely in depth discussion as to why said boy liked us, whether we liked said boy and what the action plan was. Seriously, we covered anything and everything, from ‘what if he asks you to be his girlfriend?’ to ‘what will you wear if he asks you on a date?’ It was all very intense considering the boy who had expressed a passing grunt of interest towards one of us had never even spoken to us, but we had to plan for anything just in case a whirlwind romance of epic proportions happened after school. This never actually happened so all of our planning was sadly in vain. But we took those ‘my mate fancies you’ comments extremely seriously, and it probably triggered the meticulous date-planning and over-speculation when it comes to men that we display today.