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I have always felt jealous of anyone who is clever and privileged enough to receive an Oxford/Cambridge education. Now as a 75 year woman who has had to go through life with no formal education at all, and most women of my age had to do this, Lady Di is a good example, she got just two GCEs and had to be Princess of Wales, I envy anyone male or female who has achieved and survived this exalted education.
The Oxford Undergraduate experience is considered the pinnacle of education and will lead on to an enhanced status for the rest of their lives so what makes it so special?
By Molly's age, I had mixed with princes and spent time at the local Labour Exchange with the unemployed. I was often one of the unemployed. I had travelled the length and breadth of UK on a train. I saw the poverty and hopelessness of the way many citizens lived. Bradford was an awful wasteland in 1964 and still is today. Glyndebourne, where I wined and dined, was very different. I became an Equity deputy and I admired Venessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson with whom I worked.
The May Ball, which I had been lead to believe was the height of sophistication looked disappointing too. In a tent with earphones. Now Sandhurst Ball was quite something in my day. Very elegant. I had expected the May Ball to be like that. First night of theatrical productions in the West End are good too with lots of champagne and flowers whether they are successes or not.
My life was so different.
I worked full time for a living and learned on the job. You have to be better than the best. There are no second chances in the West End and London Theatre. This started young. At 12, I got up at 7am, walked a mile to the station, took the tube from Canons Park, Changed at Wembley Park for Baker Street, then walked or took a bus to Portman Square all by myself. Ballet class was at 9.30 am followed by another vocational subject. After lunch, school till 4.30, the English was excellent. I can parse my way out of a paper bag. Then off to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden for the ballet performances. This usually finished at 10.30 pm where my mother would come up and take me on the long journey home. Ballet dancers have to be ready for professional work at 16 and some become ballerinas at 18. Life is short in ballet. Ballet dancers are brilliant, know how to work and deferred gratification. Very different from Oxford essays. I did this for two years.
I have three O levels which I taught myself as I had to change to a school that did not do GCE's. I had a brilliant headmistress who taught me the three English Lit books in just three weeks. I got 87% and the remark that "as my spelling was so bad we would never know your true academic value". Yet I am considered uneducated. Many of my schoolmates were in the same position. One Jackie Collins went on to have quite a career. She never passed anything.