THERE were no limousines back then.
No mock fire engines or horse-drawn carriages.
Certainly no chocolate fountains, £500 makeovers or being papped by the local press during a red carpet entrance.
School proms were still in their infancy.
Not like now, when still in February, Christmas barely having packed its bags and left us in peace, the build-up has already kicked off with a summer ball trade show to be held at Hellaby Hall next month.
Our old head of year 11 wouldn’t have been having any of that.
He was a blackboard and mortar board kind of man. He held no truck with alien concepts like Prom.
Teenagers weren’t at school to have a good time. Americanised orgies of self congratulation and excess, he said. And we all agreed. That’s why we wanted one.
He wasn’t for budging, though.
There was a leaving assembly and that was it.
Some teachers made some speeches, some pupils made some music, and then – with signed shirts and year books – we left our school days behind.
Those who looked old enough went to the pub. Those of us who didn’t went to the park. We sat on the swings and ruminated on what kind of an upside-down world we were being thrown into where a boy could be man enough to get a job but not a pint of ale.
Two years passed. Sixth form came, then came to a close.
The same teacher, perhaps mellowed by thoughts of retirement, relented and organised a prom.
Forty rowdy 18-year-olds thanked him at the end of the evening by questioning – in chant form – both his parentage and his diet. All in good humour, of course.
Ace night, that was.
A little different to today’s balls.
Our preparation didn’t involve trade shows or four months of planning. It involved hiring a bow tie and lining our stomach.
We arrived, not by helicopter or Ferrari, but on a coach, and the only people taking pictures were students lucky enough to have those then new-fangled camera phones.
Perhaps it was a good job there were no photographers there, though.
The first casualty ruined his suit before we even arrived at the venue. Travel sickness, he said, as he rinsed his mouth from a hip flask.
And that was a teacher.
I jest. They were all on their best behaviour. That year, they were, at least.
Different story a couple of proms later when, as I understand it, one teacher’s wife slapped a student for making an emotional farewell to her husband.
An over-reaction maybe but, to be fair, he should have known better than to allow the farewell to involve tongues.
Happy days. For us. Probably not for him. Not for a few sofa-bound nights, anyway.
And, now, for some, all those shenanigans still to come. And for us only the chore of seeing the photos in the local papers each summer, and then all summer long.
Not exactly newsworthy maybe but I guess teenage girls in dresses that don’t cover their shoulders sell papers. I guess that’s the way it is. I guess that’s one thing that doesn’t change.
And so, a little jealous and a lot bored, I always sit reading.
Ehh, I hear myself mutter, it wasn’t like this in my day.