I arrived at HTHS not through any kind of choice.

At Northmoor it seemed to be generally agreed that I could do well, if only I realised I could. I had conversations with myself along the lines of

"I can't do that."
"Of course you can."
"No I can't."
"OK, you can't."

So when I failed my 11+ it came as no surprise to me but was a huge disappointment to my Mother. All her friends' daughters had passed - how come she had such a numbskull?

Off to Robin Hill I went, and I loved it. The teachers and teaching suited me and I was soon up in the top three, and sometimes top. Good heavens, what was happening? - this was quite nice! The downside of doing so well was that I was certain to be entered for the 12+, but that didn't worry me unduly - I was bound to fail no matter how well I was doing now.

My dismay when I passed was total.

My Mother, of course, was delighted. But I didn't want to leave Robin Hill - I was doing well. I could even take a subset of GCE's if I stayed on (if I remember correctly it wasn't possible to take as many as, say, eight, but you could take some). Maybe I could dig my heels in and refuse to go.

Not an option, so on to HTHS I went.

I was in the R form (Remove or Remedial, I was never sure). It seemed that The Powers That Be had decided that it would be "A Good Thing" to take the children who for one reason or another had failed the 11+, but passed the 12+, and send them to HTHS (no Counthill or Greenhill choice allowed) and make them take GCE's in four years instead of five.

It didn't work for me. I left at sixteen before taking any GCE's.

I don't have many strong memories of my time at HTHS but I have a few:

Walking down the corridor with my sweater sleeves pulled up to three-quarter length, as was the fashion, and Minnie popping out of her office as if from a cuckoo clock, shouting 'Are you going to do the washing up, dear?'

Never being given enough time to get dry and dressed after swimming, and hurrying down Ashton Road, cold and wet, to be greeted by Slim Jim standing in the corridor waiting for us. No time to dive into the loo and sort out one's coiffure!

There must have been something in the atmosphere in Nat Mills'classroom as I could never be in there long without getting the most violent hiccups. I was always sent out to get a drink of water and loved the quietness of the corridor and toilets, wishing I could stay there for the rest of the lesson.

Cross-country running - Ugh! I'm sure I used to run twice as far, looking for all the dry routes rather than ploughing the well-muddied path. John Winter, however, seemed quite happy to slosh and squelch his way round. He came through on my inside as I was teetering on the edge trying desperately not to step into the gunk. He was a big lad and had feet to match. Down went his foot into liquid mud, at which point Archimedes' Principle kicked in and it was all I could do not to lose my balance to avoid the ensuing tsunami. Momentum drove him on and the look on his face when he pulled his foot out of the mud (accompanied by the most fruity sucking noise) and realised his shoe was still in there and there was nothing he could do to abort the next step, had me rolling on the bank (a dry bit!) with laughter.

A big thankyou Keith for all your hard work to make this archive possible.

Janice  Birkill
If it aint broke ....