Posted on May 24, 2005.
The school arranged a Leavers' Dinner and Ball for the evening of the penultimate day of school, which virtually everyone attended. The prelude to the meal consisted of everyone hanging around in the common room (rather than the gardens, due to the weather) where a multitude of photos - both amateur and professional - were taken. We wanted both a professional photo of the corner and one of the Einstein boys (myself, Ben, Phil - the owner, the writer, the purchase maker), but neither happened. On the subject of photos, if you have any from the last 36 hours of our school careers - that's the dinner, ball and last day, Phil's site would appreciate them once we get it working properly with Ourmedia Stop press: It's working, just about, albeit not with Ourmedia. Ask Phil for an account in the near future and you'll be able to upload the photos yourself to his site. This preface to the dinner lasted for about an hour before everyone made their way into the main hall
Of course, being allergic to sustenance itself (a slight exaggeration) a meal was always going to pose problems for me. However, both Mr. Hadcock and the caterers (whoever they were) were excellent and allowed me to provide my own food which was then served to me. Put simply, it was awesome. My starter was melon, cucumber and tomatoes in a French dressing; the main was turkey, ham, stuffed mushrooms and vegetables, which they even managed to heat for me. The only slight problem was that my desert - which is known in my family as schlump; apples and blackberries in a bowl, with a spicy sponge mixture poured over the top and bake - never materialized, but given that I was full at that point anyway, it wasn't a disaster. All three speeches (Martin, Mr. Hadcock and Mr. Jenkinson) were excellent; Martin's was the most consistently funny, but I think I preferred Mr. Jenkinson's overall, mostly thanks to a couple of really bad jokes. The first was about a teacher (supposedly) coming to him and saying that they think they have a problem; a student of his has written in some work: "my father - a psycho, the rapist." Of course, it's just bad handwriting - the sentence is supposed to read "my father - a psychotherapist." However, the best joke was only laughed at by just over a quarter of the people there - those that had been taught by him for GCSE French, plus a few more who understood. He was talking about teaching us - and how the memory that stood out the most was TPJ with a blue mouth after chewing his pen too hard - and then paused, before saying "One cannot deny that one cannot underestimate the importance of ... " Everyone in the know recognized this as two of his magical French oral phrases which sound impressive, waste time and don't really say anything; a winner when you're running out of things to say in a French oral. Finishing slightly later than intended, at this point everyone made their way down to the ball. I successfully scrounged a lift from Georgia who then entertained everyone by reversing into a space in which she was forced to park over the line due to the adjacent cars. We then took a wrong turn getting to Roberts and ended up in a dark alley before quickly correcting out slight oversight.
The ball was excellent; by far the most enjoyable one that I've been to. Once the live band of students had vacated the stage (which were alright doing their covers until they started singing), the DJ put on a lovely selection of both cheesy and vaguely decent songs. Despite the amount of alcohol I consumed (none, as always), I was dancing more enthusiastically and more embarrassingly than I ever have before. Arguably the universal highlight of the evening was Ceri dancing with Doc J, but I don't think anyone was disappointed with how any of the evening turned out (with the exception of failing cigar-smoking 101 in some cases). Strolling back through the rain to my lift with Jacko and Willy T was mildly entertaining, as we were all knackered and we were going uphill. Returning home, we realized that we had to be back in school in seven hours and thirty minutes and that the amount of sleep that we were going to get was going to be at a minimum. Still, with everyone else in the same boat, several a lot worse off than we were thanks to the level of alcohol that had been consumed, and a lot of people living further away than we did, we were in a better position than most. I took a slim four hours of sleep, getting up at my regular 6:15 AM to give me time to get up to speed in the morning and to execute my carefully prepared plan for the school intranet and thanks to my ability to connect to school from home, the first deed of the day was done before we even left the house.
Leaving the house for a school day for the last time, I was taking a two-layered chocolate sponge cake with Black Cherry jam in the middle. This cake had had the ingredients measured Wednesday night, baked before going to school Thursday morning, and covered in a thick layer of chocolate before leaving for the dinner Thursday evening. We're talking about a lot of inconvenience that I went to to make this cake, purely so that for the inevitable parties that would take place through the day, for once, I would have something to eat that other people could enjoy too. It was worth it. I entered the school and headed for the medical room to pick up the containers that my food had been in the previous night; rather than find the four containers (the main course had been in two) I found one, filled with schlump. That certainly explained why I hadn't had it to eat the night before; the caterers seemed to have simply forgotten it. However, the other containers were nowhere to be seen; I spent some time looking for them, but not a great deal - after all, time was of the essence and couldn't be wasted. It should be noted that this was the only downer on the whole day. I proceeded to the Common Room and was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by Ceri and Florence in purple blazers and ties and a dummy made out of newspaper and dressed up. At this stage, there was no plan for what to do with the dummy; Jonny and Florence had simply made it to keep our options open through the day and for that they gain a lot of respect. Florence had come up with the idea of getting all the girls in purple blazers for the day, and, give them credit, they did. I loaned mine, and still haven't retrieved it (hint, hint, Florence). We had pre-arranged what the Einstein for the day would be - "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish" - and I had the rare pleasure of writing it. Einstein is going to be coming with me to University (wherever I go), but is still hanging in the common room until the end of exams (nearly; the practicality of getting him home is still an issue). School started quickly enough and with no assembly - and a distinct shortage of students thanks to the night before - we had an extra-long Friday form time where Anna attempted to overcome her fear of feeding the salamander but, unfortunately, ultimately failed and we all looked at the food that had been brought for the Form Feat during tutorial.
Returning to the Common Room for our free, there were very few people there, but Florence wanted to use this opportunity to execute the other prank that she had planned - changing the name of the school. The previous day, she and TPJ had created strips of paper on the computer in the same colours and font as the front of the school, but reading "Colchester County High School for Girls"; she had also brought in a thong and purple bra to tape to the sign - just to reinforce the point. We needed some sellotape and so with one five-fingered discount later from the art department, we were set. We needed the sellotape to stick the signs and underwear to the sign and initially we were concerned about doing so; it was raining and sellotape sticks to wet things in much the same way that large pineapple chunks stick to pizza. However, ever concerned with appearances, the school has a hedge that the sign is set into - which looks very suave - and so was shielded from the rain. We were successful, and the bra was placed on the highest point of the gate. We talked to Martin an hour later, who had been in the office when he heard over the radio "Some jokers tccchh have changed the sign tccchh at the front of the school tccchh." It's nice to know that you're appreciated. They took down the sign alteration and the thong, but the bra stayed up until lunchtime at least; I forgot to look as I was leaving at the end of the day.
At this point, it was the end of our free and it was time for the form feast. The cake went down a treat - everyone who tried it enjoyed it, although they all showed initial hesitancy; understandably, given the number of people that have sampled what is affectionately known as 'bland'. While usually at that point I would have had Physics with Mr. Warren, he had unfortunately double-booked himself for our lesson, and so we had it off while he attended a meeting someplace about some such. Off to the Common Room, Florence decided it was time to get rid of the dummy; the plan was to get him on any roof somewhere. We patched him up using the sellotape, as he was falling apart, as well as dabbled with giving him a spine transplant using a broken pool cue - which turned out to be one of our worst ideas ever, as it broke his head and removed his ability to use one of his knees. Florence was saving his life from our abysmal surgery, when I looked out the window and was struck by the memory of being placed on the roof of the porch of Gurney Benham in Year 8; it was the perfect location for the dummy. I floated the idea and it was well received and so I went scouting inside to see what lessons we would have to dodge past. As it turned out, there were two; a Lower Sixth maths class teaching themselves, who were no problem, but also a Mr. Wallace's class who had their door open, which we would be in view of for a considerable length of time for a group of people carrying a fairly good replica of a body. In the end, we just rushed with Jonny at the front obscuring Mr. Wallace's view. After carefully positioning the dummy in an appropriate position (which involved sellotaping his head to the wall), we dashed downstairs - again avoiding Mr. Wallace - and out of the building to view our handiwork. It was marvelous.
We had a few minutes to admire our work from the Common Room, but soon it was break time. And at the end of break time came the Big Free, in which Phil, Sam, Ted and myself had been planning to do a tour of the school with Phil's video camera. The plan was originally to go inside every room in the school, regardless of their lesson-status, but Ted being a spoilsport wasn't up for that - and without Ted - the highest ranking of our group, which would lend us a sense of officiality and render us at least partially immune from retribution. As such, we came to a compromise; we'd only go into lessons that we thought wouldn't mind. Those that we thought would mind, we'd look in through the window. We made our way off to Elianore - where we decided to start our journey - only to be intercepted by Mr. Leveridge who delayed us a fair amount by talking to Ted about music - of all things! Still, we got to the top floor of Elianore, and turned on the camera. We then spent far too long in Elianore talking to people we didn't know about things neither of us cared about. We came to regret this when we ran out of space on the camera later. However, the journey around the school was marvelous. We went through the gardens, waved at the canteen ladies, all through Gurney Benham without backtracking (the Smokers' Staff Room has some seriously cool stuff in it). We even got some guest camerawork from Ceri and Georgia for the Boys' and Girls' Sixth Form toilets. Shockingly, Art, who we thought would be one of the most relaxed of all the departments, objected vehemently in both teachers' cases. Mrs. Lloyd went way down in my estimation - which was unfortunate given it was the last day. Equally surprisingly, Tech was fairly lenient with us. We got into a surprising number of offices and secret rooms (although GBH stands out as the one that got away) and caught the elusive Mr. Jenkinson on video giving a lesson. Malheureusement, we never found him in his office and thus our last chance to find out what is in the room behind his office slipped through our grasp. The other regret was the fact that we ran out of time on the video; Physics and Chemistry weren't done on video, though we did take photos of them for posterity's sake.
It was now the start of lunch, and thus time for the highlight of the day. I had thought of this a while ago, and it was good to see so many people show up for it. We were going to unscrew the whiteboard from 'our' room - GB8 - and sign our names behind it. This was arguably the most 'naughty' of the things we were going to do, as it couldn't be undone without a new layer of paint, but as was said at the time while it wasn't the type of thing the school would encourage, it was something they'd approve of. There is a horrible rumour doing the rounds that the whole building is going to be refurbished over the summer, which would remove our handiwork in a single stroke (of paint, from a really big brush). However, once we removed the board, we saw that there was another layer of paint behind it of a different colour, so as long as they just re-paint the rooms as they apparently did the last time, we'll be okay and immortalized in the school for years to come. We anticipated that the most difficult bit would be getting the board back on the wall, as there were also six aluminium spacers to fit back in, but it seemed easier than taking it down (I was involved directly in neither, but the screws were a pain to get out).
This took about half of lunch, but we weren't done. Earlier, Jon had gone into town and bought some rope; Ben knows how to tie a hangman's noose, and we have access to the biology department. Skelletor - rumoured to be the skeleton of the old head of Biology (before Mr. Beatty) who topped himself - was getting hung in a purple blazer from a tree. Unfortunately, he was whisked up before the blazer was put on; when we tried to bring him down, his ribs got stuck in the tree branches; TPJ waggled the rope and Skelletor plummeted to the ground, breaking his hip. Ben and Sam rushed him back to Biology and fixed him (only a pin had bent, which loosened the whole leg and as a whole was easily remedied), but we quickly scarpered. Initially, TPJ was blamed, as is only natural. However, it turned out that it was Ben's fault - he had only single reef-knotted the two strands of rope together, and this had undone itself on the tree. I think everyone preferred blaming TPJ, but you can't beat the truth - although a lot less people commented about it later than they would have done if it was TPJ's fault. As our last lunchtime drew to a close, I sat in the Common Room trying to convince myself that if I didn't get up and go to registration, then school wouldn't end for the last time. Unfortunately, the real world caught up with me and I was forced to go to registration for the final time before proceeding to maths. Now, at this point we had the bottom half of the hangman's noose still - that's the business end - and when I entered our Maths room - upstairs in Gurney Benham - it was tied to a water pipe, hanging out the window. It looked a bit useless, until I remembered what was on the window next door - the dummy. One swift trip next door later, we had our own felon sentenced to death. With no time to wait until dawn, he went straight out the window. This was arguably the most satisfying part of the day, as we kept hearing laughter and shrieks from outside from passers-by. Completely unintentionally, it also was dangling outside an occupied class downstairs. Our maths lessons with Dr. Davey can't get much more laid back than how they are at the moment without him teaching us, so we had a pretty normal maths lesson (for those of you keeping track, this was my first lesson of the day) before proceeding downstairs for our Maths party with Mrs. Fish; party poppers, the buzzing blower things, and everything. I was a bit early, so I left to talk to people in the Common Room for a while. Flo attacked me with some parcel tape, trying to wrap me up, which I let her do, thinking that it was harmless. It was, until Tank leapt at me and started taping me up good - including one of my legs to my chest. Him and Jon then carried me to maths, where I was unceremoniously dumped on a table. Everyone - myself included - found it funny though and it didn't take me long to get out. At the end of our - short (due to the exam briefing) - lesson, she let us leave by the window for the first time ever. Of course, I thought this the perfect opportunity to say "So long, and thanks for all the Fish" - which I did. Walking past the hanged man, we were distraught to see that his head had fallen off; apparently it was Pagie's fault - someone was playing with him in the History class that he was fixed too, and just put too much stress on the stitching around his neck. After the exam briefing, we had five minutes left of school to appreciate before leaving for the last time (barring exams, and results day, and all the other piddling days like "Certificate Day"). I thought we were all doing alright emotionally before Florence started crying, which nearly set me off. A multitude of hugs later, I remembered something else I'd been planning to do for ages on the last day of school - go talk to Mr. Wright. I looked around for as many people as I could that this special reason would also apply to, but Chrissy was the only one. Even though he hates Mr. Wright, I still convinced him to come along.
In my first Geography lesson in Year 7, among other things (such as drawing a map of the school), Mr. Wright told us that even though we had 20 terms at the school, and that seemed like an eternity at that point, it would go far quicker than we could ever expect or think it could. At that point, none of us believed him, but what do you know - the old man with more life experience was right. So I went and told him so on the last day. We had a nice conversation and we all reminisced about who had been in the class; it turns out he keeps all of his old mark books - going so far back that at one point he was able to tell a student what his father had got in every piece of work he had ever done. He gave us Christmas Pudding flavoured kit-kats, wished us well for the future and we did the same; he's retiring this year - with Mr. Beatty and Mr. Bayes retiring last year, and him this year, the landscape of the school will have changed forever. Apart from anything, I have no idea what the school will do for prizegiving without Mr. Wright; he's the guy that runs it every year and sorts out all the books. He's also the media center of the school; he makes sure all the right people get in all the right newspapers and preps people before interviews. If we see less of the school in the paper in the future, we'll know the reason (well, other than the fact that the best year ever - us - has now left; there'll surely be a final hurrah for results, and that'll be it).
At this point, it was time to leave school for the last time. Annoyingly, I forgot to see if the bra was still present on the gates, but walking into town with Bish I realized that I had arrived at the end of an era; one of the most enjoyable ones that anyone can have experienced.
Of course, this isn’t the last time I’ll be seeing almost everyone, and Ceri duly threw a Eurovision Party. The communal favourite was the Moldavian entry, which involved a Grandma banging a drum. Hard. As the night wore on, Sleep Deprivation Club was founded. However, as the first rule of Sleep Deprivation Club is “You cannot talk about Sleep Deprivation Club” *Checks off ‘Fight Club reference on the list of things to mention in this entry*, that is where this emotionally draining entry must draw to an end and I’ll go attack the 3-D Sudoku that was published in the Telegraph at the weekend again.