I know, I know - that’s not what you want to be called. (A bit too different when you’re in a class with all those Helens, Heathers and Kathleens – to say nothing of the Annes, Lesleys, Rosemarys and Alisons. Ooops, nearly forgot the Margarets…) You stand out when you want to blend in and long to be called something like Janet.
Your nickname – Topsy – is not entirely conventional either. It’s the name you’ve been known by since you were a teetering toddler – and it was fine in the rough and tumble world of home but in the more sophisticated surrounding of Kings High School it’s not quite right either. Keep your thumb over the name on your bus pass – it’s one thing for your friends to give you a nickname – but when bus drivers replace ‘Hello muy duck’ with ‘Hello Fliss, Flick or Fizz’ it’s time to be assertive. You will be assertive won’t you? And Felicity? You will grow to like its difference.
And how is school? Hockey? I didn’t think you’d get much pleasure from hurtling up and down a muddy field on a foggy afternoon in pursuit of a small wooden ball. I quite understand that you could never see the point. I am glad you gave it a try though. I suspect you will always avoid anything remotely sporty involving teams and ugly clothes. How are the other subjects going? Hopeless at maths? That’s unlikely to change! When you have children of your own try to sound convincing and encouraging about the importance of the sciences.
Art though, that's a different matter - I’m sure you’re in your element in the Art Room. I think that’s all you ever really wanted to do – make marks and play with colour and shape. Don’t give up on Latin – believe me, in years to come what seems like a pointless exercise now will later pay dividends.
I imagine that you wish you lived in the town like most of your school friends. The concept of ‘cool’ hasn’t been invented yet but I think we’ll agree that living surrounded by what your mother describes reasonably accurately as ‘a sea of mud’ is not ‘cool’. You are drawn to those beckoning city lights. I know that deep down the countryside’s slow and regular pace has entered your soul and taken hold of all your senses. There will be sights and smells and sounds in 40 years time that will suddenly transport you back to Warwickshire – leafy then before Dutch Elm disease took its toll – and you will feel you’ve come home again. You will eventually learn to love, and live with, mud. And poultry too believe it or not.
I suppose I should advise you to heed the wise words of your parents – but I can’t do it very convincingly. As B Dylan will shortly bring to your attention - ‘The Times they are a-changin’. His words will speak for your generation:
'Come mothers and fathersHow lucky you are to be young now. The country has finally shaken loose from the privations of wartime and the austerity which followed. The social order is changing. By the time you reach adulthood - and don't laugh - the fact that you're a woman shouldn't hold you back either. So get out there and seize every opportunity. Throw caution to the wind. These are such exciting times.
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Your old road is
What else can I add? Travel, see the world. Measure twice, cut once. Enjoy.
With love and best wishes,
It is an interesting exercise - if you're up for a challenge consider yourself tagged!