When I was very tiny I was sent to a private nursery school where I was a boarder. This was a traumatic time for my parents and for me because they couldn’t afford to look after me by themselves in London. At the time, however, it wasn’t considered such a shocking thing as there were many post war parents who were in the same position. Nevertheless there were difficulties which were compounded by the fact that the nursery was run by nuns, the Sisters of the Resurrection. Originally they had their convent and a nursery school in Gunnersbury Avenue that was difficult enough for my mother to get me to and then they moved to somewhere near Ascot. So I had to stay for the whole week there and it has to be said, with a lot of other small Polish children. Yet one week, one morning rather, we set off early to get to the train. I was dressed snugly in a pair of brown corduroy dungarees with thick woollen tights underneath and a ribbed jersey to keep me nice and warm, when we arrived at the convent gates to be met by a flappy nun who more or less screamed at my mother to take me home again because I was offending God, wearing trousers! Obviously this made no sense to me at all and even less so to my mother but she was doing her duty by me by keeping me warm. I don’t remember what happened next. She probably left me there with some changes of clothing anyway and they made me wear little skirts after that. But she always told the story with horror and shock at the narrowmindedness of the nuns. Luckily they changed their attitude by the time they came back to Ealing and my children attended to the same nursery before they went to school.
Yet my mother herself hardly ever wore trousers. She didn’t like them; she wasn’t comfortable in them and didn’t actually ever like me wearing them. So when today I came across a photograph of her wearing flares in 1976 I felt I had to publish it here because it is such an anomaly in her life. I can’t remember ever seeing her in trousers though there are some wartime photos of her in army trews.