Schools love certificates, apparently, and I've still got some of mine. Please look at them with me. I promise they're very interesting.
When I was at Wimbledon Chase Middle School, we had these incredibly fancy merit certificates that were rarely handed out and were considered a really special prize.The headteacher, Mr Hardy, would write your name carefully with his italic pen, and you got to take a mint from his office. It was quite ceremonial. It was like meeting the queen. I suppose the fancy border and heavy card stock helped to carry the mysticism and wonder of it through the school, but Mr Hardy hyped merits up a lot, and we loved him. When he left the school a lot of is were crying. He was an amazing headteacher. No school certificate ever held quite as much gravitas as this one did.
At my high school, Ricards Lodge, we had a system of gold slips which we got for being good and stuff. This would vary massively by teacher, so some would give you loads every time you farted and some would give you none. Ever. At the end of the year you got a different certificate based on how many you'd managed to collect. I only ever got as high as forty, but you could go quite a bit higher.
Key stage three is a distant memory, but I still have my results. None of these reflected my GCSE results whatsoever, though. Apparently I wasn't very good at music then. I don't really remember.
I also have this 'good behaviour award' from Ricards. Now I know what you're thinking.
'Lil, this isn't signed, it's all a sham, you filthy liar!'
No, I'm sure I was legitimately given this by a teacher who just didn't bother to fill it in. I promise I did a good behaviour at least once.
Back at Wimbledon Chase, I shared a little garden with three friends for my two final years. In 2001 it was commended, but in 2000 it was highly commended. That's how I learnt the word 'commended'. These certificates were quite precious to me because I really, really cared about my garden. We either had an intuitive talent for gardening at ages nine and ten, or we were lucky, because our garden looked great.
I think I kept this certificate because it was given to me in creative writing class for being good at creative writing, and creative writing was my absolute pride and joy at middle school. I read a million books and I wanted to write a million stories.
I always used to wish we'd done swimming more at school. I missed it so much at high school, the evil place that forced me to attempt netball instead. I might as well have been trying to make soup from rocks. That's how successful I was with netball.
Football, though, was a sport I loved playing when I was at first school. I continued playing at middle school, but I didn't really fit in on teams there, so I stopped. They just weren't playing the game in a way that I enjoyed then. I remember playing for Hollymount (my second first school) in the football tournament, and it was the best thing ever. I played football for fun and wasn't that into the competitive side, but competing in the tournament was great. I also discovered that the team from my old school, Benedict First School, had two of my best friends playing on it: Troy and Amy. Seeing them again after leaving them behind when I moved was amazing. It's so weird remembering that, but it's one of those rare, crystal clear memories. It's strange to know that there are now two adults out there, two strangers out there who might be sharing that memory with me.