Sunday, 27 July 2014

My Life as a Tapestry - 3 (never mind the Education act 1944)

Schooling in the 1950s and 60s came with bells and whistles, and, for some, uniforms - navy blue for St. Ignatius, brown for St. Ursula, and a sort of sludgy turquoise for St. Anne. Catholic schooling set out to teach me and my sisters about wickedness, though I don't know how much attention we paid. 

I learned about goodness from a man who stopped his lorry in the busy arterial road and handed me a puppy through the cab window. Susan learned about it from "Susan of St. Brides". Gillian was just naturally good - she was born without original sin. (I've used her in this drawing to experiment with breaking the 'border' convention between picture and margin - as the Bayeux artists did in the 'Harold's coronation' and 'Crossing' scenes).
I was impressed by the Church's sympathy for thieves, and alarmed by its paranoia. Sister Dympna wanted me to believe there was a lurking bus waiting to end my life in an instant, if I wasn't careful, and woe betide me if I wasn't in a state of grace when I turned up for judgement. The Canon told me that non-catholic kids would always be trying to trick me into losing my faith. Father Maloney said a scruffy exercise book was the first step to hell, and gave me 12 to make the lesson stick.
The margins here denote the Vatican and the distinctive 1870s school architecture that was still housing most younger children 80 years later. The 11+ examination was our rite of passage to even older grammar schools, or the occasional new secondary modern, if we didn't pass. School milk and the catechism were rituals that marked every school day.

The Latin caption is supposed to mean 'here they learn to be pure and holy' but Google Translate gave me the perfect form of the verb disco (I learn) instead of the present. Given the form of the 
3rd person plural for the present indicative of that verb it's probably just as well (thanks to Alan Woodley for pointing this out).

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