Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Behind The Scenes At The Queens School Chester..."

It's not often I fall back into the arms of my Alma Mater. But I did yesterday.

I nestled in my A.M's arms whilst Kate Atkinson ( ) talked with us about her writing. The event was sponsored for LitFest ( ) by LitFest Friends.

Kate's prizewinning 1st novel " Behind the scenes at the Museum" has long been a favourite of mine. And yesterday we learned about Kate's work: her inspirations, how she tackles her craft, and about the delight her writing clearly gives her.

BUT for reasons that'll become clear, I sometimes think I should go back to my A.M in disguise....a friendly nun perhaps.... a tweed-clad octogenarian leaning on an elegant walking-stick.... or maybe I should back-comb my hair in a beehive, stick on Bet Lynch earrings, totter in on strappy white stilettos...but then a Bag Lady would be best option....because I can do Bag Lady perfectly, no prob.
HOWEVER I DIDN'T disguise myself yesterday. I sat on the balcony in my old School Hall in my normal clothes ( well, a few steps up from my jeans) and I remembered.

I remembered a morning decades ago, when I got to school early.... and as a Dare, I hid under the floorboards during Assembly....while the whole school trilled/boomed " Praise My Soul The King Of Heaven"....while The Headmistress ( with her long grey platt coiled around her head, like an ancient version of Heidi) extolled The Prefects, extolled The Caretaker, extolled The Lacrosse team, extolled The Orchestra...AND particularly extolled The Newly Donated School Benches on which one could only perch in one's sandals ....and I hid under the floorboards while a stuttering Remove ( with its skirt caught up in its knickers) read a Bible Story....AND then the Senior Choir descanted/fluted their way through "The Magnificat" and a haunting rendition of " Nunc Dimitus" ...

BUT it WAS good to be back yesterday .
It was good to be back, me a grandmother of 3... sitting sedately above floorboards.

PS: T'was cobwebs (fluttering in my hair) that eventually got me in trouble by breaktime...


Blogger Kay said...

What a great memory - very Enid Blyton! (my FAV writer up until about the age of thirteen when - some would say - I became more enlightened! ;)

3:01 am  
Blogger Suzanne Jones said...

How wonderful to remember...(loved the description of your Headmistress). :-)

9:48 am  
Blogger Sarah Laurence said...

Oh, Jan, this is classic! Who’d have guessed you were such a prankster? How did you keep from giggling back then and now remembering?

I have my 25th high school reunion coming up next year – maybe I should go in disguise. I’d guess your sedate granny disguise was the best of all.

11:26 am  
Blogger Jackie Luben said...

That's fascinating, Jan. Sorry I haven't visited for a long time. I've been missing a treat.

We used to sing Praise the Lord, ... etc. too.

12:38 pm  
Blogger apprentice said...

Oh how time stood still at those things. I wish I'd found a trapdorr like you.....

Lovely writing, as ever Jan.

12:59 pm  
Blogger jinksy said...

That school assembly had me cringing in recognition, as it was so like the ones I waded through - minus the cobwebs and view of underfloor. I was one of the girls in the choir!

8:41 pm  
Blogger Amanda said...

Hilarious school memories, Jan!

8:44 am  
Blogger KatW said...

I would've liked to have been there listening to Kate Atkinson.

I loved the description of your old headmistress 'like an ancient version of Heidi' - what a wonderful clear picture it conjured.

Were you at all tempted to re-visit the under-floorboard-world? (After Kate had finished that is).

Kat :-)

3:12 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

I believe one of her daughters has just written a book about her...

The HM also had very dark brown eyes.
I suspect she was a "handsome woman".
Her eyes "bore" into one.
At least they "bored" into me...!

Have a lovely time at your reunion and look forward to reading about it, Sarah.

Good to hear from you and hope you come back soon.

What a wonderful image for poetry or writing generally...."the finding of a trap door"....

WEre you trilling or booming, JInsky?
Nice to hear from you.

It seems like YESTERDAY too!

I DON'T think it'd have been, pulling up floorboards and disappearing into the archaic gloom...HA!

4:18 pm  
Blogger cheshire wife said...

It is great that you have such memories! All my school assemblies seem to have merged into one.

5:58 pm  
Blogger Beth said...

Have not been to my Alma Mater in years but the thought of returning as a bag lady (which I too could do very well) tickled my fancy.
Fascinating blog – enjoyed reading about all the literary events & authors.
Love Carol Ann Duffy’s work.

(thanks for the visit)

1:37 am  
Blogger herhimnbryn said...

What a wonderful memory. Do you continue to accept the odd dare?

12:09 am  
Blogger Jan said...

Cheshire Wife:
Probably a good thing if MY memories are anything to go by...!

I think a lot of girls I knew then may well have turned into very nice Bag Ladies!

Certainly noT! Hmm. Hmm.

2:51 pm  
Blogger Bee said...

As much as I envy you for getting to hear Kate Atkinson, I will remember this post -- chiefly -- for your YOUR schoolgirl antics! Wonderfully described.

7:14 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hid for a double chemistry lesson in a cupboard in the science block and Dr.Stephenson didn't know I was there. It was a bit boring after the first five minutes and, looking back, I'm not sure why I did it.
Unfortunatly Enid Blyton was banned at Queen's although I did once manage to get hold of a copy of Mr.Pinkwhistle to read. That's a great title for a book, isn't it.
Sophie's mum

11:42 am  
Blogger Fennie said...

Lovey descriptions hear, Jan. Yes, it's fun to go back and to see how much and how little has changed. I have felt that I could go back in a trice to being fourteen or fifteen again. But I have never hidden under floorboards!

8:31 am  
Blogger Debs said...

I could just picture that assembly.

I'm glad you had such a great time going back, and loved Kate Atkinson's, 'Behind the Scenes at the Museum'. How fantastic to be able to hear all about her writing.

8:32 am  
Blogger Jan said...

Thanks, Bee!
I'll have to "describe" some other schooldays happenings....?!

Sophie's Mum:
I wonder how many other girls were "hiding" in weird places at QS on any particular day?!!
I remember (when I was an innocent little Remove ) being "shocked" to a stammering jelly-like a much older girl who had ( WOW!SCANDAL!) come to school in black stockings ( which I thought looked MARVELLOUS!!) ...but at lunchtime she sat under our dining table and proceeded to " light up"..
But to digress ( although I think there's a parallel strand in this?!!) ...I'm much looking forward to Sophie and co in " Daisy" at Little Theatre next week.

Being 15, yes...and knowing all the stuff we gather on the way through all those other years...Hmm.
BUT how "different" would we REALLY be?

Yes, good hearing her. I think she visits lots of Festivals etc so she may well appear at something in your neck of the woods too..

8:45 am  
Blogger marlyat2 said...

More memories! I'd like to hear some more of those days!

Back from Cambodia and dragged down by the infernal jet lag...

4:51 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Shall haste to your blog for details...
Lovely hearing from you.

10:07 pm  

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