I came to Alllerwash Hall, Fourstones, when it was a private girls' boarding school called St.Oswalds. The Second World War had ended that summer and my mother had died just before Xmas that year, I was eleven. I had had a terrifying time being moved from place to place with my mother who was dying of TB, and I'd been left in good faith at a boarding house in Jesmond, Newcastle, with Mrs B..... whom my mother paid to take care of me during one of her sojourns in hospital. This monster frightened me with threats to tell my mother how wicked I was (I was 7 at the time) unless I obeyed her commands to clean, skivvy generally, and she used my meagre rations for her own family. Eventually I was moved to a kind aunt in Ponteland, a not-so-kind one in Edinburgh and then to my grandparents' home in Sunderland. My sister Jenifer already lived there at the Mount, she was considered "delicate" and was indulged with good food, a pretty sunny bedroom and provided with a sunbed under the trees in their lovely garden. I was less welcome, sadly, my manners were bad, my accent also, and I was a problem. So, after a short while at the High School my grandmother told me she had been advised that I needed boarding school education. Yet another move, this time I dreamed of Mallory Towers, midnight feasts in the dormitory, lots of new friends etc. And arrived optimistically at St. Oswalds. Lovely building set in wonderful grounds where we were allowed to wander, by the lovely Tyne river, the smell of crushed wild garlic, damp leaves, endless vistas across Northumberland, I fell in love with nature. The People were more difficult to cope with. Run by spinsters, uptight attitudes, regulations at every turn, bullying abounded some by girls (this is life!) had wealthy caring, influential parents, life for them seemed to my guileless eyes so much more pleasant, and they used to draw attention to my lack of parental involvement, even my threadbare bedclothes and tatty dressing-gown (which had been hastily made from old black-out curtains, and scratched horribly!) I was so lonely and unhappy, I used to wait until I thought the girls in the dormitary were asleep before allowing my weeping to begin. I remember asking over and over "Mummy, why did you leave me?" Years later two friends from those days told me they used to hear me, but didn't know how to help. I used to go to an old bathroom in order to pray (for I had developed a religious support) and gaze out of the window counting stars and visualising a loving kind man rescuing me one day and we'd live happily ever after - which didn't happen either!
A memory shared byon Jan 13th, 2013.
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