I have been thinking about the time I was in the Mayfield Youth Players. My brother, Alan, sister Jill and myself joined from the youth club. We did a play called ‘The Eyes of Youth’ by Ted Willis and performed it at the Little Theatre in Ilford. The three of us were playing teachers. I played Miss Dillon, known as Dilly. One of my cues was a line from the headmaster, ‘We will miss you, Dilly, when it comes time to hang up your boots’.
Unfortunately, the boy playing the headmaster never said the line correctly, and I had to be prepared for something similar but different at each performance. One night when we were performing, we reached the point where I was supposed to go off stage to make tea. When I left the stage I came up against scenery that hadn’t been moved. I was frantically signalling to the other side because I couldn’t get to the tea tray. Luckily, it was moved just in time. Our director was the theatre critic for the Ilford Recorder so we got a good review. After that we did a one act play for a drama festival, ‘The Widow of Ephesus’, in which Jill played the widow and I was a dancing girl. There were two dancing girls and at the last minute the other girl refused to wear her wig. We were supposed to be doing the dance of the veils but, instead of doing it identically as we’d rehearsed, we started off wrong and were opposites. The judges commented that it was clever to have one fair and one dark haired dancer and each being a mirror of the other.
I remember a school trip to High Beech, which I assume was a nature ramble, but don’t remember learning anything apart from there being a place nearby connected to Dick Turpin. I do remember a teacher instructing us not to sound like a load of crows when a vehicle passed as we were walking along the road.
I learnt more when, as a family we used to catch the bus to the Royal Forest Hotel at Chingford. There was a picnic area and cafe round the back at the top of the hill. We would run down the hill avoiding the many little ditches, sometimes falling, and then go blackberry picking in the forest. One time we were standing under a big tree at the top of the hill watching the rain progressing across the plain, which was fascinating until it reached us. I think that was the time we went to look at Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge. I can remember thinking it was rather small considering the entourage that accompanied Royalty.
Most of the girls in 5c were studying shorthand and typing with Miss Stanley but I was on a new practical course, there were only three of us on it. One of the things I enjoyed most was helping the girls from the Ethel Davis School with cookery. Before my timetable was sorted out at the beginning of the year, I sat in with shorthand lessons, taking down the dictation in longhand. I remember being asked by the others what the words were when they couldn’t understand their outlines.
About three months after leaving Mayfield, Miss Gobby and Miss Stanley arranged a reunion for the girls of 5c. Miss Gobby scared the life out of us as first formers, but by the time we were in the fifth year she treated us as equals. About ten of us turned up at the reunion, which was held at Miss Stanley’s house in Ilford. The idea was to see how we were getting on in our first jobs. Most of the girls were doing office work and I was a library assistant. When we left the reunion, it was the last I saw of my classmates. It would be lovely to hear from any of the girls who were there.