Lusher’s College for Ladies was the most exclusive girls’ school in the state and Sky was a proud old-girl. The sight of Jane entering the shop dressed in a brand new uniform of her old school triggered a Pavlov like response in Sky, who immediately broke into a rendition of the school war cry, complete with full hand gestures.
“Gee up, gee up,
Cap and ticker,
Blue up, blue up,
Gold and glitter.
Rouse us, rouse us,
to the test.
We are best.”
The sight of Sky in her flowing clothes, flapping around like a penguin attempting semaphore struck Mrs Thomas as absurd and funny. Her daughter however, was not amused. Jane didn’t go much on either Sky or the school her father had insisted she attend for the next two years.
“The product of a ‘good’ school,” Jane sarcastically remarked to her mother. “Is that what Dad wants?”
“No dear,” Madge replied. “We only want to do what’s best for you”.
“Terrific! Come on Mum, time for me to go and learn how to drink tea properly and curtsy for the Queen.” Jane said, causing a look of anguish to spread across her father’s face.
“And maybe learn some manners!” Dean snapped before reminding Jane that both he and her mother had worked hard to make sure she had the chance to enjoy the type of education they’d never had.
Flushed with embarrassment Jane quickly apologised to her father, but wasn’t about to give up entirely. “I really am grateful, Dad, honest. But there was nothing wrong with the high school. My marks were always good.”
“Good marks aren’t everything.” Dean replied. “A school like Lusher’s will give you the right start in life.”
During the years of saving and going without, Dean had conjured up a network of old school chums for his daughter. Friends who knew about society and would help her find her feet; Friends who could always be relied on should she need a hand; Friends from well connected families. His daughter however, had no desire to be part of any old boys’ network, or girls for that matter.
“If you say so Dad,” Jane snorted with a soft laugh, bringing her father back to the real world.
“Besides there’s nothing wrong with Lusher’s, Sky did pretty well there.” Dean said indicating to their customer. “Her marks were high enough for her to go to Uni if she’d wanted to.”
“I could have too Mr Thomas,” Sky agreed enthusiastically. “Don’t worry Jane you’ll have a great time. Your Dad’s right, Lusher’s is the best. But watchout for Miss Anthony, she always tries to get the new girls to join the choir.”
“Sure,” Jane replied sourly. “See you later then Dad”, she said before tapping the glass front to the cabinet. “Don’t worry about this melting Sky, glass isn’t a liquid – it’s a fluid.”
“That’s right,” exclaimed Sky, “I knew it was like water.”
Jane looked up in exasperation at her smiling mother. Just as they were about to go out the front door Jane suddenly turned back to Sky, “No risk that your windows will melt either, but if you’re not careful all the glass will flow to the bottom. That’s why you should always clean them with upward strokes.”
“Is that right?” Sky asked, but Jane didn’t answer.
As Sky watched Jane and Madge leave the shop, she wondered why window cleaners always work from the top down. “Mr Thomas, do you think window cleaners get a commission if they can wear the glass out quickly?” She asked.
“Oh you’re cruel,” Madge jokingly told to her daughter as they walked around the corner.
“She deserves it; she’s such a flake I don’t know why Dad listens to her.”
“You know your father, easily impressed by the idea of a rich girl forsaking all to start a business on her own.”
Jane smiled as they crossed the road to the family car, a fifteen year old Holden Ute that was mainly used to carry supplies to the shop. Jane threw her school bag into the back and opened the passenger door of the cab.
“I reckon you ought to put her in the freezer, mum.” Jane suggested.
“Oh come on, she’s not that bad.” Madge laughed, as she settled behind the steering wheel and started the engine.
With a rattle of rusted panels the Ute pulled away from the kerb, taking sixteen year old Jane Thomas off to her first day at the historic Lusher’s College for Ladies.
In the next episode, “Lushers College for Ladies”, as Jane and her mother pull into the school drive way, a woman with hands of a forty five year old, the face of a twenty year old and the clothes of a fifteen year old, orders them to use the trades’ entrance.