Uniform? Oh yes, I had one and even looked forward to the day when I was the personification of the Pink Floyd song “The Wall”. I do not usually plaster my blogs with videos, but sometimes it is necessary. I particularly like this video bcause it is the personification of school days in London. I remember the making of the video, where Pink Floyd selected a class in a London school. They were not very happy, as Pink Floyd did not pay them and royalties for the video appearance. Pink Floyd The Wall – Royalties
Being of the older generation, almost dinosaur, we still had the 11+ examination to take to see where our future would take us. We all sat in the classroom answering our papers at the age of 11. Some of us made it to the solid wall, all the bricks looking alike, and the others – well they had to make the most of a crumbling wall.
I was one of the lucky ones, I got to the solid brick wall. There were many of us, because we were the baby boom years, born in 1946. Now that was exciting, we were all fitted with our uniforms. It was one of the reasons why today I rarely wear green, if at all. After being encased in clothes in that colour for 6 years, it tends to leave an anti-green mark on your character.
Mum was pleased that I got into the grammar school. Reflecting on it all I now see the other side of the promotion. She had to find the money to buy a complete uniform, because our family never had money. The pilosophy was a meal on the table had priority, everything else came second. Unfortunately mum could not cook, but that was only a detail.
So we made off to Holborn, London, where there was a shop called “Gamages”. It was a department store, a known place, where it was fun to go for a shopping trip. I remember the store well, because they had a pet department with real live animals, not just cats and dogs, but rodents as well.
And now we arrived in the uniform department. Of course I met a couple of school colleagues there also being clothed for the future years in our school. There was not a selection to wear, it was uniform, so we all got the same. A silly cream coloured blouse with square neck and a one piece green fabric pinafore dress to cover the blouse, although this was only for the first year. In the second year you progressed to a real skirt, cream coloured shirt and yes, a tie. The tie was in green-red stripes. Your now resembled a lettuce and tomato salad in mayyonaise. This was unform pure and let us not forget the green nickers. Yes, even our underwear was prescribed to be green. We had special shorts, in green of course, for the gymnastics and games. We had green raincoats and naturally for the head, a green beret. Mum was relieved when we managed to get everything. How she paid for it I do not know, but I suspect there was some sort of weekly scheme where you could pay regularly every week until the price was covered. It was so long ago.
And then summer arrived. It was time for the green or red gingham cotton dresses, so another journey to Gamages for the equipment.
Today Gamages in Holborn no longer exists, it has completely disappeared, as many buildings from my youth. Our school no longer exists. It was situated in Spitalfields fruit and vegetable market, an area which has now been redeveloped, being partly in the City of London. The ground was too expensive for a school. The school amalgamated with another (after my time) and Spitalfields has now become an area for a modern mall and office blocks. The hall still exists, but is now a French restaurant. I have one photo of our class in our summer unform taken on the school payround, the school building being in the background. It was probably taken around 1960 and yes I am the one with the “X”.