Every Mother's Dream

by Lynda Lynch

 Every mother's dream was to have their child pass their 11+. I remember the tests but not where I sat them. I loved the IQ tests, and to my parents pleasure I passed to go to a Technical School. Having just missed out on Grammar, my parents "choice of 3" schools in order were put forward. I know they were nearly all "girls" schools. But they desperately wanted me to go to Fallowfield Technical Grammar School. Elsie Tanner went there, you know, and whoever owned the corner shop at that time. (In Corrie of course, whenever this conversation took place.)

Well I got "MY" (or their) 1st choice. The uniform was the weirdest shade of brown. The only place you could buy it was in Manchester. The blazer had an embroidered pocket, so you could not even try to match the colour and buy a badge. I remember even now the gabardine had to virtually reach my toes, and it was 13-00. 1958 and 13-00 for a gabardine! A straw boater for summer, a velour hat for winter; indoor shoes, outdoor shoes; the list was endless. My parents must have been really stretched as Graham was only 2 years old.

The school was very strict, and as it was owned and attached to the Church "Holy Innocents", it only had a small intake, and a full total of 500 max. girls. My year being the bulge year was the highest intake. Also the standards for entry had to be higher to keep numbers limited. It was unbelievably strict, and having been to the Mission, it was no great shock at the religious end of the scale. Well it shouldn't have been, but the Magnificat in Latin, assemblies in church every week, as well as daily assemblies, all ere very overwhelming. Going to school on Saints Days and nights, detention if you didn't. But I loved reading and acting and I excelled at church readings and the choir. Singing in St. Annes Church and always doing the readings. Waiting for the echo to bounce back before you read on.

But at home it was difficult, no place to study and every time I walked down my street, it was pure embarrassment. The uniform did not really go down well in a 2 up 2 down property, or with the local kids. I didn't mix well for a while, most kids had left school or gone on to secondary school. I was classed a snob. This was a complex situation because at school it was the total opposite.

AT the age of 16 I moved to Haughton Green, which would make things easier you would think. But it meant 3 buses until they introduced a school bus from Belle Vue. Not bad for a travel sick child! The opposite meant that when they introduced the school buses, there were 3. One went to Sale/Bramhall, one went to Belle Vue, and I can't remember where the other one went, probably Wilmslow or Cheadle. Well we all knew who got on the Belle Vue bus. The Paupers, the dregs of society. At the Haughton Green end of the journey I used to get off the bus 3 stops before I needed to. This was the old terminus, before the council estate was built. Say no more! Whilst in Holt Street I still vividly remember taking off my outdoor shoes to find a squashed prune inside it. Flattened black, but not a prune at all, but that is what I said it was.

You try walking from Longsight Library to Holt Street in a straw boater with flowing brown ribbon, or a velour hat. Or even a skirt down to your ankles in the mini skirt era. Or on second thoughts, don't. Perhaps it was envy at not being able to dress like that, or the fact that I'd passed the 11+ when others didn't. Whatever it was, I was an outcast until my teen years. At 15 1/2 I hit the streets. Clubs were beckoning, but I was still a snob in their eyes. It all made not one jot of difference as we all become semi-normal adults. Just some of us had more hang-ups than others regarding their "roots". Only now do I feel I have accepted them, but I am far removed from Manchester, my roots, and my upbringing. I feel I have only been moulded since I moved here and I don't really feel like I belonged there now. Our lives are very different.