Former journalist Juliet England is a writer, editor and proof-reader who has earned her living through words for 25 years. Credits range from Woman’s Own to the Guardian and Berkshire Life. She’s the author of two non-fiction books, graduated from Winchester University’s Creative Writing MA and has won or been placed in various writing competitions. She was bitten as a child in Sri Lanka by Arthur C Clarke’s monkey, but has since recovered from the experience. Other adventures have included cycling across Cuba and spending the night on a Land Rover roof in Costa Rica.
As a Story Terrace writer, Juliet interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better: you can read an autobiographical story of her own below. Get in touch today to work with her!
Back to School
The hall is exactly as it was 27 years ago. The same faded blue curtains and worn wooden stage. I stand, transfixed, remembering school plays, and being Cilla Black in our sixth form Christmas sketch recreation of Blind Date.
I stare at the chapel, equally unchanged. Every Sunday, we were made to wear tippets, tongues of black ribbon worn around the neck, starched white shirts and navy suits and frog-marched to chapel. My proudest achievement at school was not the university place or the exam results, but skiving chapel one sunny Sunday morning in my last term. I sat on the small balcony off one of the bedrooms, legs stretched out, schoolwork open on my lap. I squinted in the harsh light at the pages of my French poetry book, holding my breath as the bedroom door creaked open. The squeaky soles of Mrs King’s shoes and the nails of her smelly black dog clacked on the wooden floor. A sigh of exasperation, some muttering under her breath. Then the door shut slowly as Mrs King, the sixth form housemistress, squeaked off. She went on to the nearby heath looking for me, and down into the cellar, but never found me. A small victory against authority. She never forgave me, either, sniffing ‘I wish Juliet well,’ in my leaver’s report.
Now, standing in the hall again, I spot my old French teacher, Mrs Banasevic. It hasn’t occurred to me that any of our teachers will be there at this reunion, marking 175 years of the school, the place that was home for seven years while my parents lived abroad.
‘It’s never Mrs Banasevic!’ I squeak.
I look into her face. Of course, the passage of time has left its mark, but she has weathered the decades well. The hair, dyed ash blonde now, piled up, the gold rimmed glasses, the slightly puffy face. We all loved her.
But suddenly, there’s something about seeing her, about being back here after so long, that’s unbearable. We hug, and I am embarrassed to find I have started to cry. I think of all the eaten up years, of the summer of 1988, when I was 18, and the last words Mrs Banasevic said to me. Partir, c’est mourir un peu. Leaving is dying a little.