Sunday, 7 September 2008


Before I finally left Stroud Green Secondary, Inky (Mr. Stephens), the Headmaster, requested that my parents come to the school to see him. When they arrived, they were ushered into the Head’s study, while I was told to sit on a chair outside. I couldn’t think what I’d done to justify this visitation as I was a regular little ‘goodie-two-shoes’. My ears could just pick out the sounds of Mum and Dad’s voices mumbling away in the office and, finally, the door opened and Inky asked me to come inside.
His first question was: ‘How would you like to stay on at school and train to become a teacher?’ I was thunderstruck. Firstly, I never thought I was clever enough to do this and, secondly I hated maths so much that, for me, leaving school was equivalent to breaking out of Alkatras. In any case, I had set my heart on attending Hornsey Art College to learn designing. At that time, cash grants weren’t available to help students, as they were in later years. Dad would have to pay for me to go to college, so I didn’t think my dreams had very much chance of coming true. Still, becoming a teacher definitely was not an option, as far as I was concerned.
Mr. Stephens emphatically assured me that I was a very clever girl, and would do well if I stayed on at school. He also pointed out that, as I was consistently top of the art class, and obviously had talent in that field, I probably had a future in art, if that was what I really wanted. As I hadn’t attended grammar school, I would have to stay in my present school for another two years. This, I didn’t want. Mum and Dad said that it was for me to make the decision and choose for myself.
I was adamant. As I saw the situation, I was about to endure the torment of a lifetime doing maths! Mr. Stephens said I should think carefully, as it was a great opportunity for me,
I thought carefully, for all of ten seconds, and said ‘NO!’
Daddy’s next remark made it all wonderful again.
‘Leeta has set her heart on going to Hornsey Art College and, frankly, that’s what we’d planned for her. I know it will be expensive, but we’ll manage that, somehow.’
I was overjoyed and my cup ranneth over. But this was to be another of my Father’s well-meant, but rash decisions.
I left school and my parents shortly put my next career-move to me. How would I like to take a year off from education and spend it at home with my mum? This would give me a break from schooling and, at the same time, be company (and help) for Mum, who had just had her fourth daughter and sixth child Babs. After my sabbatical, I could then go on to Art College and start work in earnest. I agreed, only too happy to be with Mum and the new baby all day.
My father, who was self employed as a painter and decorator, didn’t really earn enough to feed all the mouths that he had created. However, he said that he would pay me ten shillings (50p) a week pocket money (a princely sum in 1945), to do various jobs around the house and help Mum with the little ones. Sixty-three years on, I still have his yellowed and tatty piece of paper listing the jobs, which involved me in running errands, making tea, doing shopping and taking babies for walks.
We were best friends, Mummy and I, and we loved doing things together. She was only about thirty-five years old and very young at heart. I was fourteen and very grown up, and we got on very well together. We shared the cooking and housework, and she taught me how to do dressmaking. I shared the looking after and bringing-up of Sandie, Tina and Babs.
Mummy and I went shopping together and how she loved it when the shopkeepers took us for sisters! She was always very attractive in a glamorous sort of way, and turned heads wherever she went. I was very proud of her, particularly since she’d had six children.

To be continued…


weechuff said...

I too was asked to stay on at school, but mum and dad needed the money that I would contribute to the housekeeping if I went out to work. So instead of a year off like you had, I left school Wednesday afternoon, and was at work Thursday morning!

granny grimble said...


How did you find a job so quickly, and what was it? What career would you have taken if you'd stayed on and were any more of the girls asked to stay on.

GoldAnne said...


weechuff said...

I found the job before I left school. It was with The Rone Watch Company, above Bravingtons Jewellers at Kings Cross. Jobs were so easy to come by then. I have no idea what I would have done, all I know is they asked me to stay on, and mum and dad didn't want me to. (Dad said I wanted to stay on because of the boys!!)Hahahahaha. They really did need my housekeeping donation, and had probably been counting on it even before I left school! I am not aware of anyone else being asked to stay on at school, but they may have been.

Croom said...

Yes I was asked to stay on at school but not for the same reason as you lol.

We were all lined up to shake the heads hand and when he got to me he said “Well surely you are not leaving us, I think she should stay and grow a bit don’t you” (to my form teacher) but he was only joking because I looked far to young to be leaving.

I was asked by Mum and Dad if I wanted to take a year out with Mum, they thought I was much to young to start work! Doug stepped in and said that is the very reason I needed to go to work, Sandie got me a job at Bravingtons and away I went :O) There I met Dave and 44 years later I am still with him!

Another interesting blog Leeta, I await the next :O) Tinax

Babs (Beetle) said...

I was asked (in a very sharp way) why I wasn't staying on, but they didn't really care one way or the other, truth be told! It was a lousy school, with mostly lousy teachers!

Jay said...

My Mum had a similar interview at her school with her headmistress and her parents. Her headmistress was trying to talk them into letting her go in for a scholarship so she could continue her education, but her parents refused.

They wanted - and needed - her to start earning money, and so she was sent to work in an office in Norwich, a fate which she found extremely hard.

She was rescued by the outbreak of war, and the call for women to train as nurses - which is what she did, and thoroughly enjoyed her career.

granny grimble said...


It's sad that your school was so bad.and mine was so good. I loved school but had a hatred and fear of Maths, which blighted my life! I would have loved to be a primary school teacher, but only if maths were not part of the curriculum !


Your Mother is about ten years older than me I believe, but her life must have been very much like mine. She must have seen the war through slightly different eyes as she was a young woman, and I was child/teenager. There's not too many of us left now !

AndyB said...


Hope you are well!

I was interested in reading your story as my father went to the same school and remembers Mt Stephens, he would have left about 1947 and lived in Ossian Road, his name was John Baudrey, just wondered if you may remember him or have any more details about the school.

Take care and Best Regards