Mowat Park (also known as “The Maternity Ward”) was our local girl’s high school, and that was where I was headed with all my friends. New Forest Boys High School was where the fathers were. News reached us that Sue was about to be expelled for ongoing bad behaviour. Val decided it would be a good idea to take Sue out and put us both in another high school outside of our area. It meant that I would have to leave my friends. I made sure Val knew I wasn’t thrilled.
I was bold, cheeky, small, daring, friendly, bossy and cute and I had all the swear words I needed to keep people in their place. I was 13 and ready to take on the world.
To get to Mitchell Girls High School on the Berea, we got a lift with the Rutherfords who lived at the entrance to the circle, next to Mr Menzies. Tommy Rutherford was a plumber with a big paunch. He had three daughters, Janice, Tralee and Karen and a lovely wife, Marcia. They were all really funny and we practically lived in their house.
When I was much younger, I found a metal wedge in someone’s garden. It was small and smooth and it had a nice sharp side. I was sitting on the carpet next to their wooden coffee table and I tapped it with the wedge. It made an amazing design in the wood and I just couldn’t stop. By the time I was caught, the entire table was covered in my pretty wedge design. I was the only one who was proud of me. I had no money so Wilf had to pay. Wilf didn’t like to pay.
They had a beautiful fish tank in their lounge and one day I was helping Tommy to clean it. When he left the room I put my hand into the tank and started splashing around. A drop of water went onto the hot fluorescent tube and it made a lovely hissing sound. There was also a little puff of smoke. I flicked the surface of the water towards the tube again and again and again. Seconds later there was an explosion of glass into the fish tank. Tommy flew in and caught me with my hand still in the tank and panic on my face. There were a few deaths but I survived.
Soon after that Tommy taught me one of the most beautiful songs I had ever heard.
“Be careful little hands what you do
Be careful little hands what you do
There’s a Father up above
Looking down at you with love
So be careful little hands what you do”
He went on to sing of the feet, eyes, ears and the song went on and on. When he sung it I felt loved by somebody. For the first time in my life, I was aware that someone was always watching me.