Angela Woodford wrote:Miss Jukes completely dominated my Sixth Form days at CH.
I had unwisely decided to take Home Economics as an 'A' level, based on the facts that I had chosen English and French, and couldn't think of anything else in which I might succeed. Miss Jukes had seemed such a nice woman during our previous brief encounters. I'd always loved to cook. Rock Cakes, Viennese Whirls, Banana Flan with it's jammy edges covered in dessicated coconut - I had produced them as part of a large class without too much difficulty. What was more, my dear friend Deirdre Hobbs was also doing Home Economics. The two of us, and nice Miss Jukes! The 'A' level was going to be two years of interesting accomplishment!
Does anybody else still begin a list beginning "Order of Work"?
If anybody ever wants a Miss Jukes recipe, I have them all, in the original recipe exercise book. Well, Pineapple Pudding is almost illegible, thanks to spillage, rings from my Little White Bowl, smears and possibly tears.
Miss Jukes was an astonishing multi-tasker. Her standards were exacting, and the eyes in the back of her head saw the things ordinary eyes could not see. How did she cover every square foot of the tiled Cookery School at speed, seeing all, correcting all and predicting all? I was used to being held up as an object of scorn by the languid sarcasm of Miss Blench - I had almost enjoyed the extreme erudition of her scorn. Regularly, I emerged from the ghastly experiences of DR's blunt candour - but DR only beat one up in the privacy of her Study or at House Interview. Miss Jukes went for showing up my incompetency in front of an audience of extremely sensible girls. We'd got past the volcanic moments of my one-time failure to wear my glasses for Cookery, but generally after a reproof, her eyes would range around her audience, and there'd be the odd sychophantic titter. Oh, the shame.
Cookery Prac. in the LV1 was for the two of us - but in the UV1 the sessions included the LV1 Home Economics pupils too. There were another four or five girls to witness my humiliation! My bench was next to that of blonde, ultra-competent, rosy-cheeked Jane Erskine, much praised by Miss Jukes (with a scornful glance in my direction) for her wonderful efficiency. Miss Jukes loved efficiency. Oh, the shame.
Three hours of Cookery Practical had me in panic-attack mode from maybe mid-Tuesday afternoons to the rushing from Chapel at 09.30 to line things up ready for the exhausting ordeal, during which I'd be reduced to a perspiring and despairing jelly - why couldn't somebody put me out on the windowsill to set?
Cookery Theory wasn't too bad. There was only the two of us and the textbook "Hildreth" through which we worked our careful way - I can see now the distressing anatomical photograph from the "Vitamins and Minerals" chapter illustrating Derbyshire Neck. By Jove! Pieces of wisdom from Miss Jukes come back to me. "If you can't afford good furniture, buy junkshop furniture and paint it white". (I did.) "Everybody feels more cheerful and optimistic on a sunny day." "Creaming margarine and sugar together creates an air-in-fat foam". And, rather presciently, "One in three women will suffer from depression in their lifetime." I looked at Deirdre and I looked at Miss Jukes. It certainly wasn't going to be either of them. So.....
Miss Jukes had taken a liking to my father, who'd chatted her up at a Sale of Work. When he had to undergo a serious gastric operation, Miss Jukes was thoughtful enough to express concern. "He'll have to be put on a Milk Diet" she said, briskly. I nodded, but shuddered at the prospect. She was wrong, thank goodness. But I was grateful for the kindly interest.
When I see Miss Jukes in my mind's eye, however, it's not in the Cookery School. It's dressed up for Speech Day, or similar occasion, in the lovat-green perfectly-tailored suit which rumour had it she had made herself. She'd be wearing co-ordinating upswept-wing spectacles, shoes with a slight heel and a brooch pinned to her left lapel. An immaculate look, a brisk manner, and, for my father, a coy blush.
Miss Jukes made one comment which I will remember always. (I interpret this insight as recognition that she would never lick me into shape as a sensible practical down-to-earth girl. "I'm going to knock some sense into you..." she'd say). I had written and produced a music-and-dance comedy sketch for one of those Entertainments, and this had taken her fancy.
"Now, that's what you should be doing for a living" she said. Thank you, Miss Jukes.
AW - PLEASE put this in the Hertford book!! I love to read what you write!!