I must write and tell you about a further schoolgirl gaberdine raincoat and Wellington boot episode that took place in July this year.
I took Mum on a car tour of Norway this summer. We left England on a dull day and during our sail to Norway from Newcastle, I went up on to deck wearing my navy schoolgirl gabardine, top button fastened of course and with my hood up, and my shiny black Wellington boots. Imagine my surprise and pleasure when I saw a lady who was wearing a maroon double-breasted schoolgirl gabardine with her top button and her belt fastened. Naturally we made conversation and she was really interested when I told her about my love of and the number of school uniforms and Wellingtons I have at home. Beth was in fact the owner and headmistress of a girls' private school and she told me that in 2001, because the girls nearly always traveled to school in their blazers, (generally unbuttoned, how awful!) and without coats, that her gabardine supplier told her that it would not be in anyway economical to continue producing gabardines for the school. Beth was left with 8 senior girls' gabardines and as she could not sell them within school, she decided that rather than waste them, she would wear the school gabardine and has so since last October on many occasions, particularly when attending school. I commented on how smart and perfect she looked and we both agreed that schoolgirl gabardines always look so immaculate, although I was disappointed when she told me that she only fastened her top button when wet or cold as readers will know that I always fasten my top button whatever the weather and I feel that a schoolgirl gaberdine should always be worn with the top button fastened on warm and sunny days as well as wet and dull days as a fastened top button is so beautiful. She also said that on wet days, she wore Wellington boots with her gaberdine, as she had to set an example to the girls.
Until 1998, the school had a sixth form, but the size of the 6th had started to fall and it was impossible trying to maintain its existence when most of the girls went to a local college for their 6th form studies. She did tell me one interesting story about two sixth formers who often tried to break the school uniforn regulations, which apparently were just as strict in the 6!th form as in the junior school, as indeed they should be in my opinion. On one wet and cold day, the two girls turned up wearing anoraks and leather boots. Beth had them in her office and questioned them about their appearance, since coats, if worn, had to be gabardines and boots, if worn, had to be Wellingtons.
Beth found two pairs of gym shoes in the lost property and made the girls wear
them in school for the rest of the day, which they did not like at all. Beth
said that she was determined to make sure
that they were correctly dressed to go home and rummaged around the lost property during the day. After school, the girls went to Beth's study, for the return of their clothes and boots. Beth told them quite emphatically, that the only boots allowed for school were the regulation shiny black Wellington boots, and that they would put on the Wellingtons Beth had found in the lost property. Apparently the girls were horrified, but Beth was standing no nonsense and made the girls put on the Wellingtons and wear them. Unfortunately she could not find any gabardines but she refused to let the girls wear their anoraks although they complained that the weather was cold. Since the girls were cold, Beth made them fasten the three buttons on their blazers, which was unknown of, even in the junior school never mind the 6th form. The two girls were very embarrassed when they went outside to wait for their lift home, and Beth went outside with them to make sure that they kept their 3 blazer buttons fastened and remained correctly dressed. I congratulated Beth on the way she handled the situation and stood firm despite protests from the girls' parents later on in the week. When she was berated, "How dare you make 17 year old girls wear Wellingtons, it is unheard of!" Beth simply produced a copy of the uniform regulations sent to all parents, which clearly stated that coats must be the school gabardine, and boots must be Wellingtons, and that she was not prepared to accept any alternative to the school uniform as stated in the handbook. After this incident, the girls continued to attend without coats and with their blazers unbuttoned even though it was cold, and in ordinary school shoes. They left at the end of the year and moved to the local college. I thought it was fantastic to hear that there are still some schools in this day with a full uniform dress code.
In Norway Mum and I disembarked at Stavanger, but our tours would enable Beth
and I to meet up at Ulvik, later in the holiday. It was raining in Stavanger,
(so gabardines and Wellingtons,
fantastic!) and whilst looking round the shops, we came across the most marvelous Souwesters I have ever seen. They were black and had the largest brim possible at the back. I had to buy them
and ended up purchasing four. Although I felt that I was cheating on my schoolgirl outfit by not having my hood up, I loved the Souwesters so much that I had to wear them. Mum thought they were superb.
Another shop had extra large Souwesters, which went over my hood. This was
even better and I bought another two. Mum wore one of my Souwesters during the
holiday and loved it so
much that she decided to buy her own. We met Beth at Ulvik, again in the rain. We arranged to go for a walk after dinner, and Beth looked absolutely fantastic, she had on her maroon schoolgirl gabardine, top button fastened, a maroon Souwester and a pair of wonderful Wellington boots that she had bought in Bergen. They were real rubber and almost came to her knees. I just had to have some Norwegian Wellingtons. We had a day in Bergen before we sailed back home and it was spent shopping in Bergen with Mum and Beth. The rainwear shop in Bergen did a good trade that day; Mum bought a new mackintosh with matching Souwester and Wellingtons. I bought 6 more Souwesters of different colours to go with my gabardines and 8 pairs of Wellingtons, again of different colours, Beth also purchased another Souwester and two more pairs of Wellingtons. Beth was very reassuring when I asked her if she though that I had devalued school uniform with Souwesters and the Norwegian Wellingtons, and I am pleased to say that she felt that a Souwester and the long Wellingtons would grace any school uniform. Indeed she felt that she would have to reassess the school uniform for the start of the Lent term 2005 and I was honoured when she asked if we could meet to discuss the "new" school uniform, and I am looking forward to seeing Beth at the
end of the month.
Three further quick points. First I mentioned that Mum had met one of the school
uniform reps, which she knew when she was manager of the shop and he found 15
senior girls' gabardines including a purple one which is superb with my purple
Secondly, would it be possible for you to let me know how to access the Mrs Prior page as all I get is an error notice.
Thirdly, many thanks to John who would like to get in touch with me. I write to Lorraine to express my love of school uniforms in particular, fully buttoned blazers, gabardines and Wellingtons and now Souwesters, hoping that other ladies can be encouraged to share their feelings for their own school uniforms: but I am sorry John, I have no wish to use Lorraine's "Rainwear Club" for any other purpose.
Another lovely episode beautifully described, thank you. Ten out of ten, and please move to the top desk in your Form Room.
I do hope you find your way into Mrs Prior's page, because there are some very nice pictures there, and an invitation to add new pics and journal notes. When it stalls on me, hitting the refresh button always gets it going again. It's a Wiki page, which means anyone can edit it from their browser. Do hope you can get it to work.
If you ever wanted to send me e-mails privately I could set up a private box as it were where you could look to see your mails without them being sent to you.
Otherwise it always takes me such an age to type up your contributions. (Sorry!)
Best wishes, and thanks again
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