“Gels” of “The Remove”

That was me. A young girl in a smart uniform (paid for by the local authority), randomly placed in Remove 1 and Cunliffe House (which involved wearing a green badge).

I managed two days in the new school, before I fell foul of the second flu pandemic of the 20th century. The first was the often heard of pandemic just after the end of WW1 but this pandemic also swept the world in two waves and, by December 1957, some 3,500 people had died in England and Wales. I was off school for two weeks and then began the process of becoming a “gel”, after the fashion of the popular school stories of the period.  Girls came from all over West Yorkshire and, as well as day pupils, the school also had a few boarders.

I believe that I settled in well and I was generally very happy at school. I had to make new friends because I had gone on to secondary school a year ahead of most of my classmates.  Some of those girls are still friends today.

I mentioned that my uniform was paid for by the local authority. It was a typical navy gym slip but, instead of the usual shirt and tie we wore shapeless navy and white check blouses with square necks. The uniform did not include a cardigan, so we all used to pad ourselves out with whatever we could fit underneath the blouse. This put them under so much strain that the shoulder seams regularly gave way and were always requiring mending.  In summer we wore striped dresses and a blazer. Oh, and the dreaded beret! Woe betide anyone who stepped out of school without their beret and a pair of gloves (white in summer).

The horror that was our gym outfit is practically indescribable! Known as “gym pinks” because of their ghastly colour, they comprised a dress, which allowed little room to move around and a pair of loose shorts underneath. When we were measured for our “gym pinks” we had to kneel so that the length of the dress was to our knees.

Anyway, I also had a free bus pass and free school meals. Except that I wasn’t having the free school meals. After a few months the school realised that they had been claiming the money while I had been travelling home for lunch (a round trip of around 10 miles). For some reason which I totally fail to understand, I continued to make these unnecessary journeys every day until I started the 5th form (Year11).

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