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Reflections on my journey through the Boys’ Grammar School — Part 2

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Fri, Apr 13. 2012

BY OSWALD FEREIRA

madungo@shaw.ca

CHAPTER TWO – THE SCHOOL UNIFORM

The BGS uniform was distinctive; everyone knew that uniform. Once you put it on it was as if you were branded. There was no mistaking you for a student of any other school but the BGS. I wore the uniform with great pride. In some respects, I loved the uniform perhaps because of the privilege of being able to wear it and the prestige of being part of the select few who were part of BGS family. In other respects, I hated several aspects of the component parts with a passion.{{more}}

The Junior uniform consisted of khaki shirt and shorts, khaki hose, brown or black shoes and a silly looking, short-brimmed, orange and green cap. The Senior uniform consisted of long grey flannel trousers, white shirt, the green and gold school tie, green flannel blazer, and brown or black shoes. For physical education we had white shirt, white short pants and white “soft mash”.

While the uniform looked good especially in photographs, its practicality to a tropical climate was nothing short of being ridiculous. It was clear that the uniform existed from the days of the inception of the school and was designed by an Englishman for Englishmen who thought they were still living in the British Isles. I am sure that many of the first students to the BGS were children of the foreign Public Service working in SVG. We sweated in our khakis and flannels. Without the luxury of air conditioning, it was often difficult to concentrate in class when one was so uncomfortably hot and sweaty. The elastic bands that held up out khaki hoses almost cut off our blood circulation. Most of all, I hated that tie! I saw no practical purpose in wearing a noose around my neck all day. I got smart and bought a clip-on tie and most of the days I let it droop only fixing it when necessary, that is, when a master or prefect passed by.

The uniform was high maintenance. The khakis were starched and ironed until they shone with creaseless pride. The seams on the khaki shorts could almost cut you. The maintenance on white shirts was intensive. We were all relieved and happy when terrylene shirts became available, no more ironing! At the insistence of my mother I got the long flannel pants when I became a Senior. She insisted that flannel was the School uniform and so it should be. I wore that pants on the first day of fifth form to please my mother and I never wore it again! I had my grey “terrylene and wool” pants in waiting and that became my uniform. Our Phys Ed whites had to be shiny and our sneakers scrubbed and polished white with “blanco”. Then we went out to play soccer in a mud pit and then our whites had to be made clean again for the next physical education class. This made no sense to me.

I often toyed with the idea of redesigning the school uniform. If I had the authority to do so I would abolish the sharp differentiation between the Junior and Senior school. As a Junior, I was intimidated by the Senior uniform. I felt like I was part of two separate schools and that I had not yet quite arrived. My idea would be to use the school colours of green and gold to design three or so distinctive golf shirts perhaps with BGS embedded in the fabric weave. They would be worn with lightweight grey long trousers. These same golf shirts would be worn with soccer shorts in the house colours of red, blue, green and gold for physical education. The short brimmed cap would be replaced by a baseball style cap in school colours, the large brim offering protection from the sun. The white “soft mash” will be forever banished in favour of running shoes of any ilk. For formal occasions the white shirt and school tie will still be required. The Junior School will have a green vest with the School Coat of Arms purely because it would be expensive to have a child go through three or more blazers as he grew. The Senior school will have the green blazer but in a material other than flannel. I believe it is an idea that should still be considered.

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