Or how to survive a 1970′s childhood..
My varied schooling was an education in itself before we even opened any books!
Strangely enough, even though the nuns would thwack the back of my 8 year old knees with a ruler for nothing more than forgetting to tie a knot in my embroidery, the convent was the time I was happiest and felt most at ease!
Having grown up with ‘The Sound Of Music’ soundtrack I thought it was thrilling to be going to a convent and I still have wonderful friends who shared that bizarre experience with me.
We were taught almost exclusively by nuns every day in a spooky grand old house with a chapel. They were thorough and they meant business but the place was full of stories as was our education and the stories were backed up by huge old religious oil paintings everywhere.
As I mentioned before, my family were not religious and my parents sent me to the convent because it was a ‘good school’. The previous school had told my mum at parents evening that ‘little girls don’t need to be good at maths’ (1970) Well, can you imagine that these days!!
I may not have been good at maths but I had a great imagination and filled the convent with stories of my own! Stories about there being dead bodies behind the huge religious paintings and of ghosts and other such terrifying tales! (Dan Brown eat your heart out!)
When I left the convent at 10 & moved on to the local school, the following years were a blur of ‘Carry On’ films, Jimmy Saville, Benny Hill, Gary Glitter, ‘Pan’s People’, Donny Osmond and The Bay City Rollers! I have to be honest, the 70’s were pretty grim!
When it came to careers, I thought I’d like to be either one of ‘Pan’s People’ (obviously!) or a hairdresser, which seemed at the time to be my only creative option. My friend came in and said she wanted to be ‘an interior designer’. This was a serious light-bulb moment for me. I had never even heard of an ‘interior designer’ let alone considered being something that my every day life didn’t contain. This opened up possibilities.
Thankfully, my mum had always encouraged my artistic endeavors which at this point were mainly drawing cartoons. Art O’level involved drawing a plimsole, as far as I remember, that’s all we had to do. Again, imagine that these days!
When my parents swiftly switched my school again at 16 to a boarding school 12 miles away ( they had just discovered my clandestine visits to my boyfriend in a Borstal and thought I needed a change of scene! ) I found myself in a more creative environment and finally felt more comfortable in my own skin.
I applied to Loughborough College of Art & Design to do their Art Foundation Course. Happily, by then my portfolio contained much more than a plimsole!