I have never, up until now, kept a diary,largely because of indolence. My working life left little time and even less incentive to record trivia. My motive is to record my long life not only for my daughter but my grandchildren who might, one day, have an interest and appreciate my contribution to their lives.

My parents being both doctors, I was born into a family where most things were affordable. Looking back on my school days, in Edinburgh, Scotland - they seem closer to the Victorian age than they do to those of a primary school child today. Indeed they were closer in time as well as in attitudes to teaching.

I was taken to my first school, which I attended at the age of five, not by my mother, but by my cousin Robert who was five years older than me. My earliest memory is of being lugged along at a furious pace by this reluctant, but not unkind, attendant. The schoolroom was large and square with a huge coal fire burning in the winter, surrounded by a high fire-guard. It was a room which cames alive in memory when I read about the schoolroom at Lowood in Jane Eyre, although, I am sure the two establishments had absoluely nothing in common.

My second school, which I remember much more clearly, was Trinity College, a stone building fronted by an asphalt playground and iron railings. The children of the early nineteenth century would still have felt perfectly at home in it. A map permanently displayed in the largest class room, with spluges of red - Canada, India, Australia, New Zealand - its small islands like splashes of blood surrounded by the deep blue of all the oceans of the world, enabled our teacher to point out that this was, in truth as well as legend, an empire on which the sun never set. Empire day was a notable event celebrated with a march round the playground and a salute to the flag.The teaching was not jingoistic but we were imbued with a belief that the empire was beneficent and the rulers well intentioned. This view may have been simplistic but, probably no more damaging than the present belief of some young people I meet, that everything that has gone wrong with the world in the past century is the fault of Britain.

copyright ай Priscilla Wentz
Annandale, Virginia
August, 2000