LESLEY KEATING: Why do I feel so much attachment to my old school?

Reality television star Gemma Collins who took a tumble at the  Radio 1 Teen Awards
Reality television star Gemma Collins who took a tumble at the Radio 1 Teen Awards
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The other week a school friend told me our old secondary school in London was to be demolished. I wasn’t prepared for the wave of emotions that I felt.

Schooldays are allegedly the best days of your life. For me, cut adrift from the security of primary school and abandoned in a north-west London comprehensive, full of teenagers smoking in the toilets, it was a massive culture shock.

It was the era of Glam Rock, the IRA, George Best, and mass unemployment.

The school was built on one level and hailed as ‘revolutionary’ thanks to its whiteboards and a language laboratory where we wore headphones to learn French or German.

Our eccentric headmistress, Miss McNeil, strode the corridors in her sensible shoes and kilts, hair piled into a haphazard bun, her overweight, snuffling pug dog, Poppy, snapping at her heels.

We had a state-of-the-art, purpose-built sports hall and an award-winning drama department.

In truth, the school probably should have won an award for being the ugliest building in the borough, a grim, concrete edifice with oppressively-low ceilings and little natural light, set on an unprotected slope where Siberian winds whistled.

It was also a time of visceral bullying, exclusion, name-calling and intimidation.

My years there were blighted by its vicious pack culture, to which the staff turned a blind eye, and the relentlessly competitive environment where bitchiness thrived.

The adjoining boys’ school sharing our complex made for interesting break times with many a passed note, hearts scribbled on exercise books and, inevitably, detention for breaking rules.

We paraded past the popular boys congregating on the perimeter wall, swapped posters of pop stars ripped from Jackie magazine, hitched up our skirts to make them shorter and smuggled platform heels in gym bags rather than lose face wearing Clarks school shoes.

Uniform rules were made to be bent, in fact, we managed somehow to get away with pretty much anything as long as everything was still regulation grey and emerald green.

I’m surprisingly unsettled, even sad, that it has now been reduced to rubble but I’m certainly not sorry those days are over.


Poor old TOWIE star Gemma Collins took a tumble at the Radio 1 Teen Awards last week.

One minute she was on stage presenting an award to Love Island, the next she’d spun an impromptu pirouette and crashed unexpectedly through an open trap door!

It wasn’t Gemma’s finest moment. Her pride probably hurt more than anything but, trooper that she is, she was quickly back up again, thanking her ample rear for cushioning her.

Reminds me of when I once made tea for some office visitors. I somehow got my sleeve caught in the door handle which yanked me backwards.

Instead of a dignified entrance, I ended up on my knees, showering everyone with PG Tips.

Not my finest moment either...


I’m really struggling today with carpet choices for our Big Renovation Project.

It’s nearly the time when I will have to push the button with the carpet suppliers but it’s still proving challenging.

We at least know what type of shade we are looking for – it’s basically a warm, soft medium grey. (That’s a good start, believe me).

But once you start seeing all the samples in situ and in different lighting all over the house, it becomes a nightmare.

Add to the equation the fact it’s also got to sit nicely alongside the dark wooden flooring being laid downstairs, never mind all the romantic colour names like Nimbus, Haze and Comet.

They’ve all started looking like sludge to me.