My mother visited Fawcett after my parents had arranged for me to have a place in the school. She had lunch with Miss Manning, reporting that the House had a lovely warm atmosphere and that all the girls seemed very happy.
I remember little of Miss Manning but a few incidents spring to mind. On a Sunday afternoon we were due to go out for a walk “but do we have to go? It’s pouring with rain.” The reply was that we would not melt and that the rain would do us no harm. With this she returned to her snug study which we thought very mean.
I was occasionally off school with terrible colds. I had to stay in bed and from time to time Miss Manning came to the Dormy to see if I was alright. I hated the whole procedure, the cold empty house when everyone had gone to school and my nose so sore. The visits from Miss Manning were not heartening. She had a gadget that I had never seen before and have never seen since. Designed to clean combs, like a small hammock with many fine strings running from the opposite bars, allowing one to hook one end onto the tap and then to run the comb to and fro so that the strings cleaned the teeth.
I was no fine pianist but I was told one evening to play the piano for the hymn to be sung at House prayers. I was so nervous playing all kinds of wrong notes and feeling very uncomfortable sitting more or less behind the Head of the House, that Miss Manning swept the length of Big Sit, told me to get up, sat at the piano and with great assurance played for the singing. I was embarrassed greatly.
During my Lower IV year I became plump and my school skirt got tighter and tighter. Eventually Miss Manning wrote to my Mother telling that my skirt was “riding up” because it was too tight and that I really must have a new one. I do not remember the “riding up” worrying me – but our family was amused. What a frightful responsibility the staff had. Enemy planes overhead and the girls all having to pick up their bedding in the middle of the night and to go down to the Basement. I do not remember Miss Manning being worried about all this: this is what had to be done and she did it – a very good example.
I was sorry when Miss Manning left, although I was only in the Upper IV I felt that she was the main stay of my life at school. I did not ever really get to know Miss Payne, this is disappointing because I know other girls were able to develop real friendships with her. When I was in Little Sit and the VI form Miss Lemarchand came to Fawcett for a term or so, perhaps Miss Payne was ill. I liked Miss Lemarchand very much and we became close friends; a friendship that lasted all her life.