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The Pain of Boarding School

by Daria Davenport

I would like to say a big ‘thank-you’ to you and your miraculously wonderful sense of humour for brightening my dull days and bringing light to my life.

The fact of the matter is that I, like a Master Tom Livingston, attend a single-sex boarding school in the middle of nowhere. But my life is undoubtedly much, MUCH more of a struggle, as my school is : a) All girls, b) In England.

Yes, this is no ordinary learning establishment. Oh no. In this, the English equivalent of Camp X-Ray, we are forced to wear uniforms that consist of kilt-like garments and jumpers (or sweaters, as they are called in the States). We are also banned from wearing shoes with heels higher than one millimetre, i.e. fashionable ones. Each morning we wake at seven and each evening we are in bed with the lights out by ten. Our only form of entertainment during the long, cold English nights is sneaking into the Geography classrooms (just below the dormitories) and turning all the chairs to face the back wall. When we go in the next morning, we simply exclaim ‘I thought I heard the caretakers giggling down here last night!’ and turn the desks back with sighs.

Lessons last from eight a.m. until four p.m. and are compulsory, as in most fee-paying schools. Sports lessons are taken by one of three teachers. If one is lucky, then one may be taught by Miss Hockeysticks, so-called because she has never played hockey in her life, a middle-aged creature with a moustache and a ruddy face who does not care about our physical wellbeing, nor indeed our actual education. Dear Hockeysticks lets us sit in the changing rooms all lesson and smoke dope, eat chocolate etc, things that are generally prohibited in the rest of the school. (I made the smoking dope bit up. Where would we get it from?) Whilst we are having a jolly old time of it running around the locker rooms and eating our aforementioned Mars Bars, Old Hockeysticks merely sits in her office and looks at porn in the internet.

But if you are unlucky, you could get Sport with Bill and Bob, lesbian lovers whose only pleasure in life (apart from lesbian sex) is torturing poor defenceless teenage girls. They make us run around freezing hockey pitches in our Games knickers in all weathers. The only escape is to plead injury, in which case you are immediately sent to the school Nurse, a pleasant-looking, jolly lady with no friends.

But do not be fooled. Beneath that smiling, chortling exterior lurks a strange and mixed-up woman. She genuinely believes that all of life’s ills can be cured with the swift administration of a BIG BOX OF TAMPONS. Hurt your arm falling over on the hockey pitch whilst Bill and Ben just laughed? ‘It’s probably your period coming, dearie, have a hot water bottle and some dandelion tea.’ Got food poisoning because you dared to eat a school lunch? ‘Oh. it’s those hormones again. Here’s some paracetomol and A BIG BOX OF TAMPONS.’ And so on and so forth.

Of course, it is not all scary and messed-up inside these tall walls. On a Sunday afternoon, we girls will gladly spend hours poring over copies of CosmoGirl! or some other teenage magazine that gives us glimpse of what life is like for your average working-class girl who doesn’t live at school. Until we are found giggling about the Agony Aunt pages, which include questions such as ‘can I get pregnant from kissing?’. Even we sad, sheltered boarding-school ladies know the answer to THAT one. Of course you can, if you don’t use a condom. Anyway, if we are caught reading this ‘foul’ material, it is confiscated. I am sure this rule only exists so that the teachers can obtain sexual health education from the said Agony Aunt pages. Once or twice I’ve looked into the Teachers Lounge and seen them gathered around their leader, listening intently to which types of STDs one can catch from oral sex.

And as for fighting, Mr Livingston, you don’t know what it is until you’ve seen this. We are the elite fighting force, but mainly we fight each other. We pull hair, scratch faces, bite, slap and stand on each other’s toes until we can fight no more. Then we use our most lethal and favourite weapon. The Bitchy Comment. Any girl can stand hours and hours of hair-pulling and face-slapping, but confront her with a casual comment such as ‘Is it snowing ? Or do you just need some Head and Shoulders?’ and she will break down in tears and pull at her own hair, tear at her face, sob until she feels ill. Then she will retort ‘You look like shit. Is that the fashion now?’ and a feud will start. And we girls do like our feuds and grudges.

Another crappy rule is that no make-up is allowed. How unfair is that ? The result is, through the infamous theory of evolution, that we have all perfected the au natural look. We wear more slap than Barbara Cartland, yet we wear it well. You can hardly tell we’ve got it on. Until you look in the showers in a night time, when the plugholes are clogged with MAC and such.

I decided to write this to tell the world, via the wonderful website that I LOVE, just what goes on in an English Boarding School. I hope it has enlightened the world.

Yours sincerely
Daria Davenport, aged 14

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