'School kids won't believe it but it's true when oldies say they are best years'

By Val Savage

My time at school was a lesson in how to be happy

I’ve loved seeing the children go back to school with their shiny shoes, slicked-down hair and pristine schoolbags.

None of them will believe it, but it’s true when oldies like me say they were the best years of their lives.

I adored every day of school because me and my friend Janet laughed our way through it. Even during exams.

On the day we sat our maths paper, we caught each other’s eye moments after looking over the questions and we both laughed.

We were so close, we felt telepathic and our laugh showed we both knew we would fail. Janet scored four per cent and I got one point just for writing my name.

Students at St Columba's High School, Gourock, wear protective face masks (PA)

We still laugh about it today, but it proves that perhaps the best thing about school is the wonderful, strong friendships that can last a lifetime along with memories that raise a smile six decades on.

Janet and I have fantastic plans for days out and because we know each other so well there is never any pressure.

She knows if we make arrangements and my legs are bad on the day, I will feel terrible for disappointing her.

Val drove up Horseshoe Pass hanging her head out the window (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

So instead, she calls every morning at 7.30am to check how my legs feel. If we’re both well, off we go.

This week we drove up Horseshoe Pass, with me hanging my head out the window to shoo away the sheep in case one wandered in to the road and we had to take it to the vet.

And we both laughed our heads off at silly things, just as we did in assemblies aged 12 – even though now a good laugh, for me, also means Tena Ladies.

Our bodies might have slowed us down and our lives know more love and loss than we did back then.

But in our minds we’re still schoolgirls and our bond is as strong as it was then. And we’re both still useless at maths.

Strange how only the best of pals can be so rude…

Val's friend Sheila did her shopping at Sainsbury's (Getty Images)

It’s funny how good friends can speak to each other in a bad way.

Sheila has been an endless help to me since the beginning of lockdown by bringing me everything from home baking to supermarket shopping.

On the shopping list I gave Sheila last week, I added a bunch of flowers, but she turned up without them.

She knows me so well, she knew the flowers were for her. So, because I’m as stubborn as she is, I ordered her flowers from Interflora.

When Sheila received them, she phoned and said in a stern voice: “Why on Earth did you do that? What were you thinking?”

And I said, in an equally cross tone: “If you’d got me the flowers from Sainsbury’s in the first place, I wouldn’t have had to spend a fortune on delivery through Interflora. Now shut your mouth and be grateful.”

Only the best of friends can get away with speaking to each other like that, because they know behind the harsh words is real affection.

***

Strictly Come Dancing win at the NTA’s (ITV)

Never mind the NTA awards, I hereby present the VAL awards for the best telly of the year.

Strictly gets all the awards going, because when the nights get dark it brightens our lives with charm, dignity, sequins and glamour.

Line of Duty misses out on a gong because, despite being lectured by Jonathan in every twist and turn of the complicated plot, even he felt let down by the ending.

The new drama Vigil has me transfixed because Suranne Jones can act in anything, even though the submarine is so dark it makes it hard for me to see (and means Jonathan gave me a big lecture on the reasons submarines are dark).

British tennis ace Emma Raducanu (Getty Images)

Piers Morgan would have been awarded one if he hadn’t been so mean about lovely young tennis player Emma Raducanu.

And although I adore Ant and Dec when they present I’m a Celebrity, they’d win nothing because they’ve won enough already.

Instead I’d give their awards to the Antiques Roadshow, not just because it takes me to the antique fairs I can no longer visit but for touring Britain and showing our nation at its best.

Vigil stars Rose Leslie and Suranne Jones (BBC/World Productions)

***

One look at my back garden proves I’ve been naggy this week.

Over beside the trees is a roll of Sellotape. I was trying to send a birthday card but the envelope wouldn’t stick. I found my Sellotape but lost the end of it. So I opened the back door and threw it out in a temper.

Just over the fence and in the farmer’s field lies a tin of corned beef.

Val chucked a tin of corned beef when the key broke (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The key broke as I was opening the tin so that was chucked too. I’ll have to ask my eldest son Jonathan to bring it in for me.

My mobile will be hurled next because it drives me mad when there is no reception.

For years now I’ve been putting up with these irritations and I’ve had enough. Simple things need to be better before my garden ends up with more food and household items than a branch of B&Ms.

***

It’s nine years since I lost my husband Colin and I sometimes think he wouldn’t recognise me because I’ve got so many wrinkles all over my body.

But although we both changed physically in our years together, it didn’t change how much we felt for each other because there’s truth in the cliche that love is blind.

So I when I heard that a make up expert called Charlotte Tilbury said the secret to keeping the magic alive is never letting your husband see you without make up I thought: that’s ridiculous.

If I told Colin I wouldn’t be coming to bed until I’d put on my mascara and eyeliner, he’d have fallen asleep by the time I’d got there. And my face full of make up would have made a right mess of my pillows so I’d have been in a rotten mood the next day.

Husbands and wives see each other at their best and worst. A little bit of lippy won’t change their feelings if those feelings run true.

***

I’m sad to report that Hollywood star and Macclesfield Football Club investor Ryan Reynolds has not been in touch after I invited him to my home for a cuppa and a Blue Ribband. Isn’t he a meanie?

If you would like to contact Val, email features@mirror.co.uk or write to Val Savage, PO Box 7290, E14 5DD.


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