This was before Domestic Science, in wihch you learned to cook real food, became Food Technology, in which you learn to make a cake from cornflakes and melted chocolate, then write a year-long project for GCSE about its nutritional value and how you would market it.
One day, Mrs Gough taught us to make bread, but because there were so many of us in the class, some had to put their loaves on the middle shelf. Half-way through the cooking, I noticed that Pauline Brown's loaf, at the top of the oven, was rising triumphantly whereas mine, in the middle, was as flat as Norfolk. I opened the oven and switched them over. Pauline, if you're reading, I'm really sorry about your loaf, and while I'm here, I also apologise about the chocolate cake and the cheese souffle.
|Pauline thought it was just as well she was predicted As in all her other subjects.|
Mrs Gough had a tongue as sharp as mustard and wasn't known for her tact. This led to one of those 'wish-floor-would-open-up' moments that one always remembers and which still make your stomach flip with emotion. (Serious 'miserable-childhood' incident coming up. Fetch a Kleenex.)
I may have hinted before that I wasn't brought up in the kind of domestic environment that encouraged or taught basic cleanliness. Daily routines such as face-washing and teeth-cleaning were not established, let's just leave it at that.
Mrs Gough was responsible for teaching us Personal Hygiene. In one lesson, she addressed my class of 15 year old girls (the boys were segregated from us and sent to learn woodwork in preparation for their lives as postmen, store managers and bus drivers). She said, 'Girls, why do we wash our faces in the mornings?' I put my hand up and offered, 'To wash the dirt off, Miss?' and she said, her eyebrows raised in horror, 'Wash the dirt off? Wash the dirt off? One hopes one did that the night before!' All the other girls laughed and I felt shame begin at my toes and make its insidious way up to the burning face which I hid behind my hands.
So, Mrs Gough did teach me how to make pastry that puffs like a dream around a pile of stewed apple and blackberry, but she also taught me never to make assumptions about the kids I teach and what their home lives are like.
Back to funny stuff before we all go and find razors.
The other incident I recall was during our O'level D.S. exam. We were making soup, and one girl had chosen to do tomato, but when she put it in the liquidiser, the lid came off mid-whizz and the soup sprayed up and out of it at full pelt, splatting the walls and ceiling. It looked like a scene from a Tarantino movie, and it nearly was one when Mrs Gough came over and saw the carnage, not helped by the maniacal screaming of the girl whose O'level in Soup was at risk.
My soup was fine. This may have been because I switched my liquidiser for Pauline Brown's, but I honestly can't remember the details ...
|Pauline wasn't sure how she'd started off with a delicate green pea soup recipe and ended up with this.|