“I said I could house two girls at the most and you've only got one!” Mrs Postlethwaite retorted. “I don't like boys, I don't trust boys, and I have no intention of housing one... especially a scratty little street urchin like that!” she says as a well manicured nail points directly at Billy.
Lawrence has recently been taken out of foster care due to him turning 16 years of age, and has been residing in a residential housing scheme for the last five months. It's a kind of 'halfway house' which helps youngsters make the transition between foster care and living by their own means. The halfway house provides a stable and secure living environment and helps its residents to find work or a suitable college course and assists in finding permanent accommodation outside of the welfare system. Lawrence's current halfway house is called Elm Tree House and is more geared towards residents with mental health and disability issues, but it was the only one in the area which had an available place so that's where Lawrence ended up. It's not a bad place by any means and like most of these types of residential housing schemes, the aim is to get their residents to eventually move out and learn to live an independent life.
Aunt Katinka was always a staunch advocate of petticoating and claimed that it was commonplace in ‘the old country’. It’s not at all common here in Blighty, apart from at Aunt Katinka’s house. My mother used to send me to stay with her a few of times a year as a child and spent every moment having to abide by her unusual house rules.
From the moment I arrived I'd be buttoned into a dress and if I showed even the slightest hint of objection, she'd swap my knickers for a nappy which wouldn't be changed until bed time. She didn't make me wear girls clothes every day. Some days I wore my own clothes but always over my knickers, or if I’d been disobedient, over a nappy. To begin with I suffered terrible nappy rash but I soon learned to shut up and put up as I'd rather spend my days wearing a pair of knickers than a nappy.
My mother knew exactly what went on but insisted that petticoating was harsh yet harmless. At least my mother didn't petticoat me at home, nor did she ever threaten me with it. However if I ever played up or got in trouble, my mother would threaten to send me to stay with Aunt Katinka when school broke up. “She'll happily have you every school holiday and half term if need be!” I recall my mother saying. The visits to Aunt Katinka's stopped when I left school and so did the petticoating... thank god!
Now I’m an adult and I'll be staying with Aunt Katinka again for a few weeks, but only until I sort myself somewhere permanent to live. The last thing I expected was for her to pick up where we left off all those years ago!
Having grown up in Ashford, where one school on the far side of town had adopted the policy of 'educational petticoating' several years ago, I knew that some schools were less desirable than others, especially for boys. Educational Petticoating schools (or 'mixed' girl's schools) are becoming increasingly popular these days, with seemingly every large town or city having at least one, so when my mother booted up Google Maps to show my sister and I the location of a our new house and our new school in the new town we'd be moving to, I asked “It's not one of those schools where the boys wear the same uniform as the girls is it?”
“Nooo.” my mother replied. “The boys and girls have separate uniforms.”
“Phew!” I replied. “Told you!” I cockily said to my sister who, only a few days previously had claimed that our new school is a 'mixed' girl's school. I was 95% certain that she was only trying to wind me up because she knows how much I'd hate it.
“Told me what?” Julia smugly asked.
“That it's not a mixed girl's school.” I retorted.
“Actually Matthew, it is a mixed girl's school.” my mother stated.
“What?!” I blurted as she clicked on the school and followed a short cut to its website. “But you just said...” I stammered as she clicked through to the uniforms page and...
WTF is going on? You may ask... Well... my mother works for herself and for no other reason than trying to impress one of her clients, she claimed that she had a Personal Assistant to help manage her diary, run errands, keep her topped up with coffee and so on. It was one of those innocent white lies until this particular client wanted a face to face meeting to discuss a new contract, and the client insisted that Mum's PA also attended the meeting. The fact that her PA didn't exist was a big problem, and it was my idea that Mum simply gets someone to pretend to be her PA. The last thing I expected was that it would be me!
The image above has been published in Good Housekeeping, Woman & Home, Marie Claire, OK!, Woman's Weekly, Cosmopolitan and many other periodicals, and it's been causing quite a stir! It's part of the pressure group Extreme Equality's latest campaign and a retort to the pro-separatist stance on what has been dubbed the genderquake. The pressure group's founder and former starlet Charlotte Chapel has repeatedly claimed that the pro-separatist movement are 'relics from the stone age' and 'a bunch of sad little misogynists who need to wake up'. Chapel claims that the latest Extreme Equality campaign highlights the positives and negatives of the genderquake in a simple and succinct manner. “It's designed to promote the debate as much as it's designed to change opinion.” she states. “It's really no big deal when a guy is told to wear a specific uniform, paint his face or shave his legs... it wasn't a problem when the girls had to do it and its not a problem now... and this poster highlights that.”