Thursday, 7 January 2010

From 16 to 60

How did I get from 16 to my 60s? Seems like such a short time ago that I was in my teens, listening to the Beatles at the local Alkham Valley Youth Club. We lived at Ewell Minnis at the time, which was a tiny village up a steep hill along the valley between Alkham and Dover (in one direction) and Folkestone (in the other).

At the time, I went to school in Folkestone at the Folkestone Grammar School for Girls, which was partly a boarding school, although I was a day pupil. I remember playing tennis on the courts at the boarding school building, although my clearest memory is of the smell of the spent hops that were used as fertiliser on the flower beds. I still detest that smell! I also had my Zoology A-level lesson in the little laboratory next to the boarders' building, and loathed the part of the syllabus that involved dissecting a dogfish...

...as the specimens were kept in formaldehyde in big dustbins, for the length of time (several weeks) it took us to complete the dissection. The smell of the formaldeyde used to make me feel sick, but this was pooh-poohed by the teacher as a pathetic attempt to avoid the dissection. I am somewhat mollified to find that formaldehyde is now recognised as a 'toxic' chemical and I guess there is some other method used to preserve specimens in today's litigious world.

In the London Hazards Centre Factsheet formaldehyde is cited as causing "... sleep disturbance, impaired memory, reduced concentration..." so it looks as if I might be able to blame all those symptoms that my children blame on my increasing old age on my A-Level Zoology lessons!


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