Back in the Southernmost Colony, during my undeveloped years, I attended a Pedagogical Institution run along the lines of a fascist penal colony. At a time when hormones raged rampant and passions exploded without warning, we were subjected to the whims and draconian views of a purple-haired pedagogue, who seemed to think that the undeveloped beings in her care were there to be moulded into a being without instinct or creative thought of her own. Pity the poor girl that dared to disagree with anything that she was taught was 'fact'. Christian National Education did not encourage 'free spirits' and neither did my girls-only penal institution.
Dressed in apple green, we were warned of the dangers of 'under-wired brassieres',which, our purple-haired pedagogue was convinced, would lead the 'young Sir Galahad's across the railway line' into temptation. I often wondered exactly how these young Sir Galahads would know we were wearing such undergarments without removing our outer garments first, surely the very thing she was worried about in the first place. We were forced to wear 'sensible' knickers - navy or apple green and nothing else at all would do, and I seem to recall pantie checks to ensure we were in fact stuffed into these thick nylon instruments of torture. Wearing trousers was considered a sure sign that you 'batted for the other side' and that they at the very least 'encouraged' such inclinations.Huh? We were prohibited from draping ourselves over anything dressed in khaki (those famous sir Galahads-our brother school- across the railway line) and were banned from taking part in athletics as this was considered 'unladylike', never mind that we could run around the hockey field in short skirts whacking one another on the shins with a stick and somehow, that was not considered unladylike! And though were could not wear under-wired brassieres, we could however wander around in skin tight, wet Speedos in full view of the public and Sir Galahads and somehow that did not lead them into temptation.
Now, this may sound like fun to you, but I found it oppressive and they were the most miserable five years of my life and the day I left I swore blind that I would never return, that my shadow would never again darken the hallowed halls, never mind the 'middle stairs' of the Institution. And then the invites to the reunions began arriving. WHY? I ask myself. Why would I want to go back there?
Of course there's always the lure of reuniting with old friends and perhaps an even older pedagogue who has not yet shuffled off her mortal coil, but even these are hardly persuasive. But, after a decade, on the insistence of my mater, I did indeed attend one of these events in the hope that I could exorcise the ghosts and heal the wounds that had been inflicted. And yes, I met up with some old friends, which was lovely, but what I also found was that, no matter how successful, happy and fulfilled we were now, we instinctively slipped back into the roles that had been created for us while being held prisoner there.
The bossy prefect types, STILL seemed to think they're prefects and that we should obey them without question, the teachers STILL spoke to us as if we were either a)the brilliant scientist/hockey player and therefore perfect scholar/person who could do no wrong, or b) the nerdy, swot who won the Maths Olympiad but had no social life to speak of (who then went on to crash out of University because of all the pressure), or c) the 'non-girl', who did subjects that weren't considered academic enough or who didn't play in the 'first team' and was therefore 'not good enough'. Included in this group were those who didn't join in with anything for the entire five years of servitude, kept their heads down and got out of there relatively unscathed, and d) the late bloomers; the artists and writers and designers, who at the time were labelled rebellious and underachieving, but came into their own once the shackles had been removed and have flourished outside the confines of the penal colony. And yet these girls were STILL treated like they weren't quite up to par and I know that no amount of protesting or evidence to the contrary, would ever convince those bossy prefects or disapproving over-achievers or bitter pedagogues that life has moved on and that we are no longer those same 18 year old girls who trembled in awe at the horned purple-haired dictator. Who needs this, I ask myself?
And so when the next invites arrived, apart from the fact that I've migrated across the galaxies and settled on the New Planet, I really have no desire to revisit those awful years. Why do people insist on trying to get us all together every decade or so? What purpose does it really serve except to bring up old memories? Maybe there are some that still have good memories, perhaps those years were the glory years for them and hence they feel the need to relive them over and over. I have very few good memories of the penal colony and finally I'm not too ashamed to say it out loud. So many years have now passed, so much water has flowed under the bridge, why should five miserable years be held up as so iconic, as the best years of our lives? It would be very sad if those years were the best we could do.
Thanks to the interweb, I am still in touch with those I WANT to be in touch with,and have sought them out on that website, you know the one, but sorry, there are some that I don't miss, don't care about and don't really want to see again. And why do the girls that I know hated me at school, that whispered nastily about me behind my back, NOW suddenly want to 'be my friend'. They should put an 'I don't Care' button on that website!