U is for Uniform
One of my friends at school was a marching girl. She would go to practice sessions after school and competitions on the weekend. She was always bringing trophies to show at school. She got to wear the most wonderful uniform I had ever seen. There was a little white pleated skirt topped by a scarlet jacket with gold buttons and fringed epaulettes. Oh, but the hat…the hat was an amazing concoction. It was tall, sparkly red with a navy blue band and brim and it was set off by a white feathery cockade. Gorgeous!
I so wanted to be a marching girl wearing a uniform like that.
Mum and Dad did not agree with my suggestion that I should add marching to my list of achievements. They were of the opinion that I would soon tire of the activity. This was based solely on the fact that I had begged to be a Girl Guide for ages ( my best friend was a Girl Guide), swore that I would dedicate myself to the Girl Guides, promised that I would be a Girl Guide for at least twenty years, and then had only lasted two weeks as a Girl Guide. Luckily, they had only ordered the uniform for that and had not yet paid for it.
I could not convince them of my deep, heart-felt yearning to be a marching girl. I marched everywhere. I marched up and down the hallway. I marched to the bus stop. I practised sharp turns and salutes when I was clearing the table after dinner…not such a good idea when one has an armful of plates and cutlery. I even tried playing marching music as part of my piano practice. You would be amazed how different “The Blue Danube” waltz sounds when played to a marching rhythm.
Nothing worked. I was destined to remain a non-uniformed marcher. The only uniform I had was my school uniform, a maroon tunic worn over a white blouse and completed by a white Panama hat (or a maroon felt one in the winter). Boring! To compensate, I took to wearing a feather in my hatband. My first attempt at style!
As a teacher I continued this tradition/affectation. The rule for school kids in Queensland is “No hat, no play”. My yard hat was quite spectacular. It was a straw breton style hat with a green scarf wrapped around as a band. Into this band I stuck a feather…any feather…whatever I found on the ground. When that feather became a bit frayed, it would be replaced by another.
Of course, the children began bringing feathers that they had found to add to my hat. I was soon wearing a hat that resembled a Native American headdress, so many feathers did it bear. The crowning glory was a fabulous wedge-tailed eagle feather that a child had found whilst on vacation and brought back to school especially for me.
When, the Harry Potter stories came along and the children noticed the line “all witches wear feathers in their hats”, my reputation for having magical powers was enhanced tenfold. That hat became an object of wonder. It was part of my uniform as a teacher; a uniform I was proud to wear.