|Me on the right and Monica Tebbs in centre
Warning - this is going to be a long post so either pass by - or go for a wee and then make a cuppa ready for a read! I need to set the scene folks!
Ages ago, when I was an almost daily blogger I used to publish a weekly 'Tuesday Tale'. It basically was just me, reminiscing on a very varied life and the stupid things that have happened to me - always through NO fault of my own of course. ☺ Time constraints, life, health and also the Snippets Playground took over and so the tales sort of ended. However ....
............ a recent conversation with SaRn reminded me of a rather long tale that I never wrote about - but it still makes me smile all these years later. So here we have the first 'Wednesday Waffle' - whilst I'm still able to type and think at the same time! You do have to step into my world and wear the 'virtual reality' head wear though! Which means your imagination. And, as I just said, this post sets the background to a few tales.
Most of you know that I went to a boarding school in Germany from aged 13 to almost 18, not our choice, my Dad (British Army) was posted to Germany and it was the closest I could be to them and still get a decent education.
The school was divided into 'houses' with 'house mistresses' and 'housemasters' - yup, it was co-ed (YAY - thank goodness for something!) as well as being the really early forerunner of Comprehensive Schooling, well before the UK. So, we had an overall Headmaster and a Senior Mistress, for the girls. Let's focus on the Senior Mistress. We lived in fear of her and she was, to us at the time, so very strict - her name was Miss Monica Tebbs, whom I will now refer to as Monica much of the time. Slim, as upright as a pencil and also very severe - basically she scared a lot of us half to death!
School days were rather overruled by Monica looming during lesson time break intervals on the girls, looking for traces of forbidden makeup and checking if your skirts were rolled up (this WAS the 60's) and then making you unroll them so you trailed around rather like your Granny for the rest of lesson times. Then you had to go and collect your really wide belt from her at the end of the day - so you could go through the same process the next day - hopefully without being caught!
Then at the beginning of one school year I was horrified to find out I'd been 'upped' into her 'A' group for English and truthfully almost ran away from school. She was a tough but very dedicated teacher - she called me a silly 'booby' on more than a few occasions (the word was innocent back then). But, she got me through the exams with good results and she, as much as me, seemed to be delighted!
Cutting a long story short - fast forward to me on Tynemouth Station back in the UK, having just left school and going off to work on my fortnightly stint of a Saturday morning. A dear elderly lady, almost smelling of lavender and wearing a very elegant hat, stopped me and said 'May I please say what beautiful posture you have'. I'd never really thought about it - but I did know that the posture came from Monica and us girls balancing books on our heads during detention! Mrs Lavender and I became friends and often met up for our early Saturday morning train journeys - me to the office and she off to see her son and family. Yet I never found out just who she was, sort of a guardian angel perhaps? One week she just stopped getting the train, which is sad as she did me such a huge favour.
Anyhow, Mrs Lavender pricked my conscience and I wrote to Monica Tebbs to thank her for everything she had done. From then on we were sort of intermittent correspondents - she knew I got engaged, married, changed jobs, moved house several times. I knew she returned from Germany and taught in the UK, lived with her sister, and then retired to Peterborough. And that could have been the end of the tale but ........
--------almost 30 years after I left the school, someone decided to set up a group for the old school and also arrange a HUGE reunion at Newbury Racecourse. Some of my future Waffles are bound to cover more - but we ended up, several hundred of us 'traced ones', piling into the venue. And after a while, WHO should loom into view - Monica Tebbs! She instantly homed in on me (hiding a ciggie behind my back - for a friend to whisk away as I smoked at the time), she knew who I was and that a ciggie has been taken away 'I smell cigarettes' she said - and I felt like a teenager once again. She then said that she'd kept my initial thank you letter for all those years - and it was just like the intervening years just disappeared - poof!
And so - the bond was made once again - but this time we were friends more than teacher and pupil - although she still did scare me, and in fact all of us to be truthful!. The second part of this - and really the funniest part will be posted on next week's Wednesday Waffle - I think I've rabbited on enough - and to be honest it still gets to me that she really was so human underneath, just 'wanting the best for her girls'.
My life is so much richer for knowing her, more so later in life when I could understand why she did what she did. Little final point - somehow I found out from a third party that when she'd had some sort of tricky situation to sort out, complete with keeping her renowned stony face - she would go into the staff room, almost slide down the inside of the closed the door and practically cry with laughter. God love her, a special lady - my friend Monica.
Part 2 next week - tune in Sarn!