So, you went to an all girls’ convent school and survived! Nowadays, your ‘non-Catholic’ mates gasp at your upbringing. They picture the horrors of the Magdelene laundries, strict nuns ruling your every waking moment. In reality, it wasn’t that bad! Being a ‘convent school girl’ certainly had its quirks and challenges, but, mostly, it brought happy memories. So, grab your rosary beads, sit back and reminisce over the 17 things you only know if you went to a convent school in the 90s…
1. Teachers patrolled the canteen, weeding out misbehaviour, shouting ‘silence!’ at a deafening volume every two minutes. “It’d be quiet if she shut her gob,” one smart aleck would mutter.
2. The pleasure of missing lessons thanks to the two-hour afternoon Mass celebrating [INSERT OBSCURE NAME] Saint’s Day.
3. Laughing as you and your mates replaced words in hymns with rude ones [‘How Great Thou Fart’, etc.] and secretly fearing you were going to Hell for such blasphemy. In fact, somewhere deep down inside that ‘good Catholic girl’, you’re still a teeny tiny bit worried. Don’t fret though, there are good psychiatrists out there…
4. Card games were forbidden, so as not to condone gambling. Yeah, ‘cause you were planning to put bets on ‘Rummy’ or ‘Snap’!
5. The younger pupils had compulsory attendance at Mass before school every Friday morning. Inevitably, the uncontrollable urge to giggle throughout would spark the attention of one beady-eyed teacher. You can still see that disapproving sneer, threatening detention.
6. The unknown, but very certain number of ‘ghost nuns’ in school. Some girls swore they’d seen a ghoulish habit floating the corridor. There were many hushed gatherings in the school chapel as you tried to coax the old dear to ‘go into the light’. When really, you should’ve been on your way to Geography.
7. Sightings particularly intensified near the ‘nun graveyard’ – usually a walled garden no pupil in their right mind ever dared tread alone, or after dusk.
8. You said a prayer before registration, a prayer before each lesson, a prayer before home time [Say it quick, or you’ll miss the bus!] and, of course, a prayer before every exam – but you were secretly glad of them!
9. Childish sniggering at every mention of the ‘Going Down’ Mass for that year’s school leavers.
10. The local boys probably labelled you either ‘a fridge’ (frigid) or ‘a lesbian’. Hmm. Make up your mind, boys!
11. The uniform policy was strict, and staff were trained in spotting offenders in a style akin to military strip searches. The only item of jewellery allowed was a silver or gold crucifix [likely a First Holy Communion gift]. You’d roll up your skirt six inches and out came the ruler to measure the length – or lack thereof – of your shame, forcing you to unravel rolls of material down a needlessly unfashionable distance below your knees. Nevermind, you’d roll it back up again before home time. Not forgetting the most offending article of the uniform – large ‘P.E briefs’ to wear over your knickers during netball. Usually stamped with the school’s crest, they were guaranteed to double as well as any chastity belt ever could.
12. Good Catholic values had to trickle down through every aspect of school life. You can forget that school play based on Dracula, and a charity kiss-a-thon was an absolute no-go. Our school librarian would’ve certainly never allowed copies of 50 Shades or The Twilight Saga to grace the shelves.
13. The end of term discos. Tragic beyond words. Invite the local all-boys school and throw the awkward hormonal teens together for one night each year? Chaos and cringey requests of ‘Will you snog my mate?’ ensued. Of course, the girl who reportedly kissed 15 lads in one night was the talk of the school the next day/month/year!
14. Ash Wednesday! Time to compete to see who can keep the ash on their forehead the longest. You’re also not supposed to eat meat all day…and you realise half way through your ham sandwich. Oh well, say a Hail Mary and it’ll be fine.
15. The nuns living in the convent are all roughly aged 80-million. They don’t teach, just wander around looking very sweet. Seems a pretty easy life, actually, and you contemplate becoming a nun. Then TOTPs plays in and, spying your fave boyband member’s shirtless bod, you change your mind for some reason…
16. The dreaded sexual education lessons. In primary school it was simplified to ME = GOD + MUM + DAD. Cute, if a little creepy. Then, in later years, your red-faced teacher was stood clutching a banana and a condom before a wide-eyed class of giggling girls… Aside from that girl who managed to slide one on instantly with ease. How we secretly judged.
17. And finally, the inexplicably bad crushes! Any male teacher / lab technician / unsuspecting workman within a 50 metre radius became the subject of our admirations. You’d find out his surname then endlessly play the ‘love calculator’ game in your jotter. Upon discovering your match was a measly 27% you’d add in your middle name to see if it helped. Failing that, you’d throw in your Confirmation name for good measure. (‘Come on, Josephine… YES! 98%! We’re true love!’)
Can you add to our 17 things you only know if you went to convent school in the 90s? Share your memories in the comments below!