Life away from home

Angela Smith: Have You Been?

Angela was born in 1962 in London. Her parents came to England from Guyana and settled in Walthamstow where Angela lived with her eight brothers and sisters. At age five Angela went to a local special school. Then from the age of ten she attended two residential special schools run by the Spastics Society (now SCOPE), in Lincolnshire and Kent.

Here Angela recalls aspects of dormitory life at school.

  • Angela Smith
  • Angela Smith
  • Angela Smith


Yes, you know they always had a smell: Carbolic, 'cause when I used to go home, my mother used to dump me in the bath to get the smell off. She said, 'Oh the stink, the smell is on you, the Carbolic!' It's good now but, but when you don't wanna smell like Carbolic. Oh dear.

Another hideous thing they used to do, I laugh now but it wasn't funny: 'Have you been?' They would keep a record of how many times you emptied your bowels and if you'd say you hadn't been, the Sennapod came out. The best part of it was, they used to give it to us, and when, when do you think the thing would work? Tell me what time of day do you think it would work? What part of the twenty four hour clock would you not want to be dying for a crap? (In the middle of the night?) Yeah, and the best part of it was, half of us couldn't walk! Isn't that the most evil thing? But I soon wised up, I said 'What they're asking me, how do they know I haven't been? Unless they're gonna look up my bum.' So I thought 'I'm gonna lie!' and that's what I did. What kind of nonsense is that? 'Have you been?' I said 'I've been.' I said I'm not putting up with this, you go when you go, unless you're ill like you've got a bad stomach ache, you don't need that every night and day. Nonsense.

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