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Distilling - Mary Quant Socks

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
Distilling - Mary Quant Socks

Everything I know about distilling will fit inside one tiny test-tube, with room Everything I know about distilling will fit inside one tiny test-tube, with room to spare, so forgive me if I float off topic.

There was something we did in third year science at school which involved making a mixture of salt water then slowly heating it with a Bunsen burner – lots of science lab apparatus was fastened together for this experiment – steam turned into condensation which dripped from a tube into a flask as pure water, or rather, distilled water with the salt now removed. I don’t know what the object of this lesson was. My attention was distracted by the showing-up I’d just been given by my form teacher because of the socks I was wearing. I arrived at Science still in tears and being comforted by a couple of friends.

School was fairly liberal when it came to uniform. As long as we kept within the given choices, wore our ties properly tied and looked presentable, we were fine. The choice of socks was knee length, white or navy. This particular day I was wearing navy – with a pattern of Mary Quant flowers in the knit. Oh dear. I’d been to stay with family in Roehampton at half term and my aunt had taken me to London’s trendy shops where I got these lovely socks. They failed to appeal to my form teacher. First, he asked what team I was playing for then he pulled me out of line and told the rest of the class to look at my socks. This generated lots of mockery, more than I could cope with and to add to my embarrassment, I started crying. I think I took the teacher by surprise because I wasn’t generally thought of as sensitive, but neither was I considered to be a rebel. He pushed me back into the line with “Don’t wear them for school again.” I sobbed all the way to the science labs. Accumulated worries of home, family and school just burst in that instant, like they do when you’re fourteen, hormonal and half-orphaned.

Years passed, well, decades I suppose, and someone suggested I look up my school on Friends Reunited. I did, and amongst some recognised names from my year, was the form teacher. I made contact, mentioning the socks. It was ages before he replied. He was glad to hear from me, didn’t remember the sock incident, but did remember me as a clever girl with a talent for writing. Oh, that’s ok – probably mixed me up with someone else. By this time he had moved his family to the south of England and had become a parish priest in the Anglican Church, bless him. I was a Sunday School teacher in the Methodist Church so we shared common ground and we were on first name terms on our emails. He's at least twenty-five years older than me, so if he's still with us, I hope he’s still doing fine.

As for the science lesson, I copied notes from classmates and drew the set-up, as required. The socks remained at home, never mentioned again.

On our visits to various places in Scotland, we’ve looked at visiting whisky distilleries. One, in the Highlands somewhere, was quite big and we didn’t want to leave the dog in the car too long, so we gave it a miss. There is one at Bladnoch near Wigtown in Dumfries & Galloway which we decided to have a look at. The day we went, the distillery was closed to visitors, only the gift shop was open. The distillery remains on our ‘to do’ list.

I found this poem. It was in Seattle Magazine, USA, by Joseph O’Leary.

Whisky, Drink Divine

Whisky, drink divine!

Why should drivellers bore us

With the praise of wine

While we’ve thee before us?

Were it not a shame,

Whilst we gayly fling thee

To our lips of flame,

If we could not sing thee?

Joseph O’Leary

Thanks for reading, stay safe and keep well. Pam x

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