Kate Livingstone: Old pic didn’t hold happy memories

Kate Livingstone

Kate Livingstone

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There’s nothing like a look through some old photographs to roll back the years and give you a warm glow remembering times past.

The fashions, the hairstyles, the people no longer with us, all add up to a few hours reminiscing about the good old days.

But this week a glimpse of nostalgia had me come over all peculiar as I remembered something from my school days that I would rather forget!

I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has memories of going to Dillon’s ‘blue house’ store on the High Street to be kitted out every summer on the eve of the new school term.

Once you had made your way through what seemed like a rabbit warren of rooms and corridors you arrived at the school clothing department where racks upon racks were filled with blazers, skirts and trousers, while shelves were laden with blouses, shirts, jumpers, cardigans, ties and school badges in a myriad of colours. For this was all at a time before sweatshirts became de rigueur for the classroom.

It was great trying on the new uniform – although not so kind on our parents’ wallet, but that didn’t concern us youngsters.

If you were really lucky then you might even get a duffel coat or rain jacket for the colder days.

But there was one horror that had to be endured by girls that was guaranteed to put a dampener on the shopping trip.

Gym knickers!

These dreaded garments were awful. Didn’t matter what school you went to, they looked bad in any colour – navy, black, green or maroon (although I always thought the maroon ones worse because they seemed to fade quicker).

Worn with the compulsory Aertex top, they had to be the most unflattering garment ever manufactured.

And teenage girls, already going through the agonies of dealing with their changing bodies, had to suffer the indignities of wearing them during the weekly PE lesson.

Of course, no-one wanted to wear them but were forced to rather than risk the wrath of the PE teacher – who wouldn’t allow people to don shorts or trousers in their place.

It always made gaining a place on the hockey team a double bonus as you were given a skirt to wear which you could also use during PE lessons.

The deep loathing that we all held them in came back to me this week when I spotted an old school photograph and there was some poor soul in that dreadful garb.

Whoever said school days were the happiest days of your life obviously never had to wear gym knickers!