I want to tell you about three of my pupils all of whom were called Victoria. I have very happy memories of them all.
Victoria was late. She was often late for registration. I was angry because my fondness for her made me expect better of her. She was very late. I began to think what I should do. She stood in front of my desk, eyes downcast and woe begotten. She told me about a row with her sister. I had been feeling so very angry but now I began to feel sorry too. I looked at her blond bowed head and said, "I don't know what to do Victoria - ask for a hug or give you detention." She said, "I'll give you a hug Mr Reed." She put her arms around me and laid a soft cheek on mine.
I had been working hard in my room all lunch-hour seeing a succession of pupils about their Geography Coursework. Silly old Karl had taken advantage of the situation to write on the board. He was supposedly in detention for failing for the umpteenth time to complete his homework. Instead of finishing an exercise on Japanese Agriculture he had spent his time writing abusive comments about his teacher. He had scrawled, 'Mr Reed is a nasty, old, baldy, man.' I was too weary to do much about it and sat relaxing in the sunshine for a minute as my form filed in for registration. I watched as the raven haired Victoria stopped by the board to read Karl's comment. She wrinkled her pretty nose and without saying a word quietly picked up the board duster and wiped it out. She wasn't going to have it. Without knowing that she was observed and without ostentation she proclaimed on whose side she stood. She had wiped the slate clean.
I was looking forward to visiting Victoria who was on work experience. She was a highly intelligent girl and a star Geographer. She had already spent one week in a solicitor's office. I had seen her there - smart, vivacious and efficient. What a good impression she had made. Now she was working in a dress shop. I found her sitting on a low stool in the corner of the shop sowing small silver sequins onto a wedding gown. It was a mundane, tedious, task. She had hundreds to sow on. It was a sight I shall never forget - this clever, graceful, girl - humbly, tranquilly, cheerfully and diligently plying her needle in the age old way.