I come from Isleworth.
Somebody had to.
Isleworth is the sort of place where you either leave school at sixteen, marry the first eligible bachelor you meet and settle down to have four children, or where you go to college at sixteen, university at eighteen and then marry the first eligible bachelor you meet, settle down and have four children. I chose neither; fortuitously my family opted to leave instead.
I have only a couple of memories and one borrowed. My mum tells me of an occasion in Sainsbury’s, I was two. Mum was casually browsing the tea bag isle thoughtfully pondering over ‘Tetley’ and ‘PG Tips’ when I declared “Mummy I need a wee”
“It’s alright Susan,” mum replied “You’ve got a nappy on.”
“Wee wee mummy.” I said in answer.
“I said you…” Here she stopped mid sentence, realising that I did indeed need a ‘Wee wee’, my nappy had leaked and I was standing in a pool of it! Mum has never been one for moving fast, but she assures me that she could have out-run ‘Lynford Christie’ that day.
My own memories of Isleworth are just as uncivilized. One day whilst playing down our street ‘The Gardens,’ I bit into an apple. Whilst enjoying the mouth-watering crunchiness of this delectable fruit, I came across a foreign body. I peered closer into the crevice that my teeth had left and noticed to my utter horror, that I had bitten a maggot in half. I ran home to mum howling.
At the grand old age of five, I was playing at my friend’s house. Julie and I had made a camp in her bedroom; I decided we needed more stuff. “I’m going to my house, be right back.” I ran down the street with thoughts of the ‘stuff’ I would bring back. Something flew up my nose. Something was stuck up my nose! I ran home bawling. Upon reaching my front door, I proceeded to bang at it with all my might. Mum opened the door to find me holding my breath for fear that the lodged object, would be sniffed into my brain! After many soothing words, Mum cajoled me into taking the tissue she was patiently holding and giving my nose a ‘Big blow’. To our disgust, there in the tissue among much five-year-old nose goo, was the biggest Blue bottle we had ever seen!
We moved to Blackwater when I was six, it’s probably just as well, I’m not sure my good fortune would have lasted in Isleworth! Mum had told me we were moving to the country. On arrival I had to agree. Blackwater has its very own ‘Mushroom Farm’ and it smelled like a farmyard had pooped on our front garden. Mum proudly announced “We live near ‘Broadmoor Prison’ now; ‘Ronnie and Reggie’ are there you know!” It appeared that being mad would be an advantage to living in Blackwater.
Rushmoor Infants School is in the heart of Blackwater. My first day was a mixture of trepidation and excitement. I was led into my classroom by Mrs Potter the Headmistress, an outlandishly straight backed woman with a beehive hair-do that seemed to extend beyond the ceiling. Thirty pairs of eyes seemed to assimilate my very soul; I could feel myself about to blubber when a commotion erupted behind me. Kirsty was the person responsible for the new focus of attention. She was wailing noisily whilst being accompanied to our room. I guessed it was her first day too.
At lunch that day a boy named Paul sat across the table from me. The smell of lumpy mash invaded my nostrils with pungent potency. Paul told me he knew a trick, “Wanna see?” he asked.
“Ok” I replied, he seemed friendly enough. He then proceeded to turn his eyelids inside out. He beamed at me with eyes of red gore, obviously proud of his accomplishment. I was repulsed.
At eleven I started ‘Rushmoor Comprehensive,’ I was astounded at the sheer magnitude of the school. It seemed like a labyrinth of corridors and classrooms where everyone knew where they were heading but me.
Mr White was my history teacher. He was a lofty man with a shock of red hair and eyes to match. I remember having wild daydreams about him in his lessons. He was a child eating, fire breathing, dragon and no pupil was safe. Whilst replaying one of these ghastly dreams in my mind one day, I hadn’t realised I was swinging on two legs of my chair, a heinous crime in Mr White’s eyes. Our classrooms in the humanities block were separated by curtains. I was sitting at the back of the classroom, the back of my chair precariously close to the curtain. Not concentrating, the legs of the chair went from underneath me and I awoke from my reverie with my head in geography, my spread-eagled legs still next door. Isleworth and a bug up my nose suddenly seemed hideously appealing.
A typical girl from Isleworth would normally aspire to work in Woolworths to support their four children and husband. Being A-typical, actually having ‘got out’ of Isleworth, I have not opted for a till based job.
Instead at thirty one I started work at the now re-named ‘Rushmoor Community College.’ I was no less taken-aback by the enormity of the school than the first time I walked through the luminous front doors. My first visit to the humanities block brought a hundred comical memories flooding back. I noticed to my disdain that the curtains that had once separated the classrooms had been replaced by a wall. I felt commiseration to all present chair swingers who would be in for a shock when not a curtain but a wall broke their plummet; I guess I was one of the fortunate ones!
I now assist Mr White in his history classes. He’s a riotous man with many a tale to tell, including one about a girl named ‘Susan’ and how she plunged into the class next door.
The names in this story have been changed to protect identity.