In a quiet island in Fazakerley, a prim Miss
lurked around corners to catch unwary “young ladies”
destined not to “run along corridors”
“shout through windows” or “slouch.”
At times she despatched her henchwomen to
isolated corners we thought nobody knew,
where we cringed at the voice rivalling the Bisto Kids
with “Ahh, the sweet aroma of Wild Woodbine.”
Faster than light we rendered our short, shared
cigarette to oblivion and warily walked the gauntlet
of a victorious poker face or acerbic adverbs.
Arriving late was only for those destined,
in later life, to dance with crocodiles or
swallow razor blades. Excuses where not timetabled.
Every door but one closed by nine o’clock.
No slipping like a shadow to a waiting space,
now clearly empty space. Name noted, excuse extracted.
At the end of term, when God, “our help in ages past”
had heard our pleas of “hope for years to come”
we shuffled in single file to shake her slight,
clammy hand and receive her clipped comments,
each of us known by name, no anonymity.
Then glorious escape through the forbidden
front doors to freedom, ‘til next term’s torment at
“The” Queen Mary High School “for Girls”
By NORMA E JONES