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The Convent Of The Visitation

A Memory of Bridport

I was a boarder there for about a year aged about nine or ten in about 1957. It was the unhappiest period of my life before or since. I don’t recall a moment of kindness, sympathy, or humanity from any of the nuns. As a lonely rejected child I received nothing from them but harshness, punishments, and cruelty. And I was not the only one. I vividly remember a little boy of about seven clambering onto the window-sill of a lavatory several floors up overlooking the playground where the rest of us were standing and trying to bring himself to jump. (He must have locked the door behind him to stop the nuns getting in.) He didn’t jump but I understood his feelings because I myself thought about killing myself as a way of escaping.

At least those nuns taught me a lesson: how very cruel people can be even when (especially when?) they think they are being virtuous and high-minded.

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