One vivd memory of my school days at Coghlan School Bulawayo was to do with the toilet!!
It all came back to me when my Wee Boy was poorly with an upset tummy....of course we call it upset tummy in Africa, but I believe its called RotaVirus elsewhere!! and washing hands is probably the biggest defence....
Getting backoghlan School, the prefects, (of which I was one in Standard Five, I might hasten to add) had to stand on each side of the double door of the toilet block, and say to each and every tiny student 'Have you washed your hands and pulled the chain '
Now I never knew what they were saying until I became a prefect myself. Those terrifying Senior girls, who were viewed with awe and worship by us babies, could have been casting an evil spell on us for all we knew! They said those important words so many times during break time that they were muddled into almost mumbo jumbo!!
Seven years into Coghlan, when I was made an esteemed prefect, and my class teacher was the beautiful Mrs Hutchens, I at last found out what those magic words were, but it held me in good stead for the rest of my life. Even in the most awful of drought years, not washing my hands and pulling the chain was anathema to me....
First worlders might wonder where 'pulling the chain' came from Well we had tanks, Shanks Tanks I think they were called, positioned really high above the toilet seat, just below the ceiling in fact, for a good 'head' of water. From these high cisterns, dropped a long chain, and if one was tiny, one could only just reach the tip of the chain by standing on tippy toes. So in fact 'pulling the chain' with some conviction was for Balletomanes only!! I wonder if those same antideluvian loos still exist at Coghlan School today
I do worry, now that I have to do my own housework, that I am upholding the standards of cleanliness that we Zimbabweans have always set for ourselves!! Hence my concern over hygiene with a Wee Bairn around. HeeHoo is a Microbiologist and offers stern admonishment to us all when unclean germs were suspected!!
Other glorious memories of Coghlan School, were that amazing lady headmistress was her name Mrs Fitzsimmons I clearly remember her bun tightly coiled at the back of her head, and the stern chain that help her spectacles to her indomitable chest!! Of course then there was Standard Two with my absolute favourite teacher Miss Jean MacDonald, she taught me to write a most elegant cursive and that year I won the handwriting competition. I swear to this day my hand writing has not changed one tiny bit!!
How well I remember that uniform, I wonder if it is still the same today Pale blue and white and festooned with delicate Plumbago flowers, well know to be Cecil John Rhodes favourite flower!!!
Coghlan School is looking wonderful these days. They have a gorgeous new palisade fence around the property and they are building new classrooms. I do wonder about the siting of the modern classroom block, smack bang in front of their beautiful old world hall, but perhaps they have the bigger picture in mind