In the fourth year we were allowed to change the tunic for a navy skirt, the grey socks for ‘American tan’ tights. Tights had just come in, replacing the awful stockings. I am photographed again, looking at the camera, with a bit more of a smile, but still a diffident air. My hair has been cut by a hairdresser inspired by Vidal Sassoon’s geometric styles, and I can make it fall, curtain-like, over half my face. I like this arrangement as it gives me something to hide behind.
I know now that there are things I am good at, but I am often tongue-tied in social situations, and I spend a lot of time alone. I alternate between despair about not having a boyfriend or having greasy hair and spots, and the elation of learning, the joyous sense of life stretching out interminably in front of me. The fear of death that haunted my early teenage years has gone, replaced by a belief in my immortality, as powerful as it is illusory.