FOWC with Fandango: Uniform

Grandad and me in brownie uniform
Me in my very first uniform at the age of about 7 with grandad in the back yard of our old house in the cockney East End of London. Yes, I was a so-called brownie, the junior group of the girl guides. I never got to the guides, I decided I did not need another unform. White socks were all the rage at the time.

The next uniform was school. At the age of 11 I took my 11+ exam and qualified for grammar school. That was the higher shool of learning and we all had to wear a uniform, so mum and dad had to dip into their pockets and find the money to pay for it. I was now dressed in a green gym slip covering a beige square necked blouse. After the first two years we juniors progressed to a green skirt, not very flattering to the figure, with a beige blouse and yes a green and red diagonal striped tie. I remember the lessons dad gave me on how to make a tie knot. this uniform remained for the next four years. In winter we had a green gabardine coat with red and green striped knitted scarf and in Summer it was a green or red chequered dress  with a blazer with the school badge. As we girls got older we pepped it up with perhaps raising the hem of the dress to a shorter length according to the fashion. You could try everything but we still looked like kids from an institution. One plus was that we did get a good education and many went on to university. I decided to play it the safe way, did not really know what to study and went into office work with all the trimmings.

My next uniform was the daily office gear. This was now the sixties, the days of Mary Quant and Beatles and Twiggy. The skirts were tight, short and the heels on the shoes like stilts. we wedged our figures into everything, as long as the uniform fitted.

Over the years uniforms came and went, all in the name of fashion, but we were still wearing our uniforms. You did not want to stick out in the crowd, although needed something different to the others. Due to being different, we eventually all dressed the same. If the fashion was wide trousers, you wore them wide like everyone else. Perhaps it was tight, so that was what you wore.

Today in the 20th century we are all dress in our blue jeans, a t-shirt or pullover. We used to laugh at the Chinese when Mao was their leader, all dressed the same. Today they are dressed individually, no trace of chairman Mao. And us? Where are my trousers and top, the ones that everyone is wearing. Of course, we do not want to be dressed in uniform.

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Me, second from the left – no we did not wear uniforms when we went on an excursion from work, we liked to dress individually – the blue jeans were a mere coincidence.

FOWC with Fandango: Uniform

RDP Monday: Uniform

Grandad and me in brownie uniform
All my life I was in uniform at least it seems to me
It started with the brownies as far as I could see
The photo shows my uniform together with granddad
A family photo to remember, in the dress that I was clad
We brownies were in brown although the tie was yellow
and then I progressed to the guides in blue, I became a fellow
Eventually I left the guides and entered my high school
And there it was another uniform all according to the rule
This time I was all in green And even wore a tie
It was striped with green and red, it really made me sigh
We had a badge on the jacket and also on the beret
to be seen at all times, that did not make me merry
And now the years have gone their way, no longer uniformed scenes
Although when I go out today I always wear blue jeans

 RDP Monday: Uniform

Daily Prompt: A life in uniform

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”.

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Daily Prompt: A Life in Uniform

Daily Prompt: Green

Horse Chestnut leaves

Yes, green, everything is green at the moment – almost everything. It can be a colour or a condition. At the moment, I prefer to stick to the colour, although I could be green with envy or perhaps be green if I had an injury.

I decided to take a walk around the garden yesterday with my super Nikon camera instead of a few quick shots with my telephone. Quick shots are ok if you do not have so much time to write all about it, but I decided to capture nature at the beginning of its growing season in detail. Here you can see my horse chestnut with the first leaves of Spring. It is not just a horse chestnut, but my horse chestnut grown from one of those brown hard round fruits that fall from the trees in Autumn. I had saved it and decided to see what would happen if I planted it in the garden.

As with all chestnuts, it began to grow. Unfortunately it was growing so thick and fast I decided it would be better in a pot. I bought the largest pot I found. This was about ten years ago and since I have a chestnut tree in a pot in my garden. The problem was that it disregarded the bounds of growth allowed in my garden and began to grow to a height that not only cast my bedroom in shade, but was planning on taking over the floors above, although there are only two. I cut the branches to keep it within the bounds of reasonability. I have been looking forward to my first flowers, and am still looking forward to them, but they have not yet appeared.

I asked my gardener and he said that some chestnut trees (yes he called it a tree) are sterile and never bloom, whilst others need time. I just read in Internet that the time could be at least 16 years meaning when I am perhaps 76 years old it might have its first flowers. In the meanwhile it is still growing and producing leaves fast and furious.

I am not really a fan of green, to be quite honest it is a colour I would never wear if I did not have to. There is a reason: my school uniform was green. In England it was, or perhaps still is, custom to wear a uniform at the higher schools. It all started when I was 11 years old at high school. Oh I did look pretty. In the first two years I was wearing a green tunic, even my knickers were green. the underwear had to be green probably to match the green shorts we wore for gymnastics. Everything was green. It was a wonder they did not inject us with green liquid to produce green skin. I also had a green gabardine raincoat (imagine Philip Marlowe in green) and to complete the picture my head was given a beret, french style, also in green. Of course to break the green monotony, we had the school badge on the beret. This was a problem, because the badge had to been seen at all times when wearing it. This meant that the front brim of the beret had to be visible at all times. We were not Catherine Deneuve replicas, but more replicas of army officers.

A further insult to the green intelligence was when we left school in the afternoon. We had to walk along the corridor to the exit. There were prefects, one  on each side of the corridor. They inspected that state of our uniform and if a badge was not showing we were pulled on one side to refit the beret.

Luckily they did not insist on green shoes as these were not really available. It had to be plain brown, with a flat heel and no frim fram on the side. If we survived and reached the third form, the green tunic transformed itself into a green skirt and to finalise the perfect appearance, we wore a green and red striped tie with a cream coloured blouse. Luckily my dad instructed me at the age of 13 how to do a simple tie knot. We were not allowed to use the Windsor knot, that would probable have been too much avant garde.  In summer we were allowed to wear a summer gingham pattered dress. One of those with little squares as a pattern and as red was also a side dish we could wear a green or red pattrened dress. The only colleagues that really looked good in green were those with red or ginger hair, it seemed to complement their hair colour. Otherwise we all resembled something that had escaped from an institute.

I was at this school until I reached the age of 17 and since that day I have rarely been seen wearing anything resembling green. It is a wonder that I eat green vetetables, although I am quite partial to brussel sprouts and beans. My autistic son will not touch a green vegetable which probably explains the general attitude towards the colour green.

Daily Prompt: Green