Sunday, June 12, 2011

a constant topic of conversation in 1973

I have started throwing out a bin bag of rubbish every day in preparation for my upcoming move to Leeds.  It is surprisingly easy. Or, it was till today.

Today I opened a cupboard, & to my surprise found a bag of stuff I didn't know I had, a bag of distraction. Old school reports. My Oxford Entrance Exam papers. The programme for the Verdi Requiem my school choir put on in April 1979 - the very first thing I ever sang in a choir.

And, gloriously, a note to parents from my junior school headmaster. I record it in full in the hope that some headmaster out there might take heart and still be writing such pieces today.

Dear Parents,
At the beginning of each school year I send out a letter to all parents of first year children. Included in the letter are two paragraphs relating to Personal Appearance from which I quote:-
'In winter girls may wear trousers when travelling to and from school and at playtimes, but we like them to change into skirts or dresses during school hours. Boys may wear long trousers of a sober colour, although in summer short trousers are much to be preferred. Denim jeans are not allowed.'
These rules are of long standing and are responsible for the reputation the school has always had, i.e., of having clean, tidy, well turned-out children.
A constant topic of conversation in 1973 is of the lowering of standards of every facet of life one cares to think of, and it would be only too easy to let our standard of school dress slip.
Recently I have had brought to my attention several breaches of our rules on dress. I will be pleased if parents will take steps to see that the rules are complied with.
Yours sincerely, J Paris, Headmaster.

Notwithstanding the faultless grammar of the letter, please understand that my junior school was in Accrington, Lancashire. It was a common or garden council school. It was not the private establishment that this note would make you believe. I am rather proud to have begun my educational life there, and really quite delighted to discover this note and to find in J Paris, Headmaster a true hero of the anti-Revolution. I say this after taking evening worship wearing my usual jeans, boots & open-necked shirt.

I love - LOVE - the sentence beginning "A constant topic of conversation in 1973..."!

PS - yes, I am the one in the middle of the three amigos enjoying playtime. I'm thinking 1975 or 76. Close enough. I hope you will agree we were clean, tidy, well turned-out children.

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